HC Deb 25 May 1966 vol 729 cc442-3
2. Mr. Peter Mills

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is aware of the fall in pig gilts from 119,000 to 71,000 and a 10 per cent. drop in all breeding stock; and if he will take steps to restore confidence in the pig industry.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. John Mackie)

As fewer marketings are forecast, the third successive 9d. increase since February was restored to the guaranteed price last week. This, together with the addition of 400,00 pigs to the "middle band" at the recent Price Review and the fact that more pigs will be required as the Plan progresses, should give this confidence.

Mr. Mills

Surely the Joint Parliamentary Secretary must agree that this is a very serious drop in the number of pig gilts and that it will lead to a serious shortage of store pigs later on? Will he do something to restore confidence so that this muck or money cycle can be stopped.

Mr. Mackie

The figures the hon. Gentleman gives in the question are earlier figures than those which we have. Gilts are rising slightly, although the total numbers are still down a little, which shows some growth of confidence. The hon. Gentleman must admit that the figure I mentioned of 2s. 3d. per eight-score pig, which is 18s. a pig, will help considerably.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

In view of the fall in the size of the breeding herd, which is a direct result of the stringent policy of the Government, can the Joint Parliamentary Secretary say whether home producers will be able to meet their share of the bacon sharing agreement?

Mr. Mackie

Yes; I think that up to now they have met it. I see no reason why they should not continue to do so, providing that they produce the quality pigs for the job.