HC Deb 10 February 1965 vol 706 cc374-6
30. Mr. Farr

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what long-term steps he is taking to ensure adequate supplies of beef at reasonable prices in the shops.

34. Mr. Bence

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to increase the supply of meat from home sources.

Mr. Peart

Future policy on home production, which provides over 70 per cent. of our total consumption, is a matter for the Annual Review which I cannot anticipate. As regards imports, there is a current shortage on the world market due to a reduction in available supplies and the increase in demand.

Mr. Farr

While thanking the Minister for that Answer, may I ask whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Argentine now supplies most of its meat to Common Market countries and, furthermore, that the chairman of the veal producers in this country has forecast that for the next five years there will be a shortage of beef? In view of these two facts, may I ask the Minister whether, in the forthcoming Price Review, he will give a real incentive to traditional British beef producers to make good the threatened shortage?

Mr. Peart

I recognise the facts that have been mentioned but, obviously, I cannot comment now on Annual Review matters.

Mr. Bence

In considering what encouragement to give to British farmers, and particularly Scottish farmers, to produce more meat, will my right hon. Friend at the same time encourage his right hon. Friends to discourage the practice which was encouraged under the previous Administration of exporting some of the best of our beef to the Continent of Europe?

Mr. Peart

One has to keep this matter in the right perspective. If exports got out of hand, they might well then be a matter for decision and action.

Mr. Jopling

Is the Minister aware that there is one way in which he can quite quickly improve the supply of home-produced beef, and that is by extending the calf subsidy to Friesian heifer calves, and that it is time that this long out-of-date anomaly was ended?

Mr. Peart

As the hon. Member knows, this is a matter which will be considered.