§ Mr. Soames
It is difficult to estimate with any precision what supplies will be, and I am not in any case in a position to give figures for individual countries. But comparing the second half of 1964 with the first, I would expect no further fall in total imports of fresh and chilled beef; a rise in frozen beef; a considerable fall in the lamb where we depend far less on imports in the second half of the year; and little change in our relatively insignificant imports of pork. Most of these imports are likely to come from the same countries as in recent years, though not necessarily in the same proportions.
§ Mr. Peart
In view of a previous answer relating to obtaining information through agricultural attachés, may I ask whether it is not rather absurd that this information should be obtained from veterinary officers, who deal with animal disease and have no influence on commercial policy? Can the Minister say what is the position of attachés in the various countries? If the right hon. Gentleman is to be more precise about his information he must have attachés in our main supply countries.
§ Mr. Soames
What the hon. Gentleman should say, and what in justice I would accept, is that we should be satisfied that we are getting the information we require. Whether this involves the need for an agricultural attaché in a particular country surely depends upon the decision of the Government. What is essential is that we should get the information. We are getting this information. Further, I can tell the hon. Gentleman that the Governments of our major overseas meat-supply countries—the Argentine, Australia, the Irish Republic, New Zealand, Uruguay and Yugoslavia—to whom, as I said on 20th February, we were making representations to this effect, have agreed that their representatives should participate with the United Kingdom officials in a meat study group. This group will review regularly the United Kingdom market situation with reference to levels of imports and will discuss the implications relating thereto.
§ Mr. Gibson-Watt
Is it a fact that what the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) said has little bearing upon the Argentine? Does my right hon. Friend not agree that it is particularly important that we should have veterinary officers in the Argentine because of the great problem which exists with regard to foot-and-mouth disease? Is it not a fact that very often it is far more important to have a veterinary person there than to have someone who calls himself an agricultural attaché?
§ Mr. Soames
We not only get our advice through veterinary officers but from our embassy and through our contacts with the Argentine Meat Board.