HC Deb 15 May 1968 vol 764 cc1196-7
5. Mr. Biffen

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on recent discussions with the Argentine Government concerning the animal health regulations and their enforcement as it affects exports of Argentine beef and mutton.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

I am not yet in a position to make a statement about the veterinary mission to the Argentine, which also included discussions with the veterinary authorities in Brazil, Uruguay and Chile.

Mr. Biffen

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there will be widespread anxiety among the farming community whether there will be more stringent application of health regulations in the Argentine? Can he say what representations he has made to Professor Houssay during his recent visit to the United Kingdom?

Mr. Hughes

I saw Professor Houssay very briefly before he went into the infected area. It is difficult to say more than that about Professor Houssay's visit, because the purpose was stated by my predecessor on 13th March. However, discussions were held with my Chief Veterinary Officer and other senior officials. The Mission which went out to Argentina from my Department is at the moment awaiting further information from Argentina before completing its report. I hope that it will be to hand reasonably early.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

The right hon. Gentleman's predecessor stated that, though immunised, beasts not having the disease could be carriers and could spread it. Under those circumstances, what guarantee is there provided by inspection in the country of origin?

Mr. Hughes

It would not be proper for me to make any technical or scientific statement at this stage. I am awaiting the report from Mr. Beynon who went to Argentina. I shall make a statement to the House as soon as possible after I have received and considered his report.