HC Deb 27 July 1967 vol 751 cc964-5
Q2. Mr. Baker

asked the Prime Minister if he will make arrangements to coordinate the activities of the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and of the President of the Board of Trade in relation to the production and import of eggs; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friends already work closely together on matters of common concern and no new arrangements are needed.

Mr. Baker

Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to exclude the import of foreign eggs during peak periods of British production? Does he realise that the small egg producers of north-east Scotland and elsewhere face ruin unless these steps are taken?

The Prime Minister

I am aware of the problem, though imports in the first half of this year, about which concern has been expressed, are hardly any higher, on average, than in the past six years. The hon. Gentleman will have seen the announcement made by my right hon. Friend yesterday about the stablishment of a Reorganisation Commission to go into the whole question of egg marketing Of course, questions about imports and other relevant matters will be the sort of things that it can discuss.

Sir Frank Pearson

Will the right hon. Gentleman take it from me that his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has very strange ideas as to what constitutes dumping? Will he take steps to assure himself that British egg producers are getting the protection for which they can legitimately ask?

The Prime Minister

While starting off with the utmost willingness, I am afraid that that is something I cannot take from the hon. Gentleman. My right hon. Friend is very realistic about this and he has certain statutory duties in the matter of dumping which must be fulfilled. The right thing here is, as I say, that the Reorganisation Commission will be able to consider this as well as other matters affecting the prosperity of egg producers in this country; and, of course, there will be continuous discussions between the Departments concerned and the representatives of the farmers' unions.

Mr. Godber

Can the Prime Minister say that those Ministers are co-ordinating their activities? Is he aware that while the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is trying to curtail over-production, the President of the Board of Trade is at the same time actively considering a 45 per cent. grant for 1 million-bird units in development areas? Surely they are working contrary to each other?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I do not think there is any conflict between their policies. The right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber), who is, I think, concerned with the import situation, will know that whereas the figure this year, as a percentage of total United Kingdom supplies, was 2–6 per cent., it was 3–3 per cent. in 1963, when he had some responsibility for it.

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