HC Deb 14 March 1963 vol 673 cc1518-9
30. Mr. Bullard

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will take measures to prevent sudden and excessive increases in the shipments of beef from the Argentine such as occurred in January this year, in view of their unsteadying effect on the market for home-produced beef and the consequent increase in the cost of the farm price guarantees to the Exchequer.

50. Sir A. Hurd

asked the President of the Board of Trade to what extent imports of chilled beef from Argentina and beef from other sources have increased in recent weeks, in competition with home-produced beef; and what steps Her Majesty's Government are now taking to contain beef imports.

Mr. Erroll

The latest statistics available are for January, and show an increase in imports. As regards our future policy towards such imports, I would refer to the statement by the Prime Minister on 11th February on the review of agricultural policy and to the Annual Review White Paper published yesterday.

Mr. Bullard

Is it not extraordinary that there is not some machinery for co-ordination between the exporting countries and ourselves, in order to see that these sudden increases, which are not really in the interests of anybody, do not occur? Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there was ample notice of the fact that these increases were likely to take place, and as the cost at which this beef has been sold in this country was almost certainly below its cost of production in the country of origin, does not this amount to dumping? Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the present procedure is anything like adequate to deal with occurrences of this sort?

Mr. Erroll

I think that the present arrangements are adequate. During last year approaches were made to the Argentine and the other main meat supplying countries, requesting them to exercise restraint in the level of exports of beef. We do not want to turn away supplies too readily in times of abundant supply, in case these countries cease to send them to us in times of shortage.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

I quite understand what my right hon. Friend has just said, but does not he agree that there is a case, in order to improve the situation, for seeing whether O.E.C.D. might not be enlarged to include the Argentine, thus ensuring that Europe, America and Britain are all brought into the same organisation, with a consequent steady flow of exports and imports?

Mr. Erroll

My hon. Friend's interesting suggestion goes much wider than the original Question. I would rather not try to answer it by way of a supplementary answer.