HC Deb 15 May 1968 vol 764 cc1197-9
6. Mr. Peter Mills

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in the light of recent new outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, he will now review the Government's policy on the importation of South American beef.

36. Mr. Ridley

asked the Minister of Aviculture, Fisheries and Food if, in view of the further outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, he will reimpose the ban on imports of Argentine meat.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

The recent cases of foot-and-mouth disease are all connected with the main epidemic and there is therefore no reason to review the Government's policy in relation to imports of South American beef.

Mr. Mills

Surely the Minister will agree that if there is another serious outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease the consumer will suffer? Is it worth taking this risk? Will he bend on this and see what can be done to alter the decision of the previous Minister of Agriculture?

Mr. Hughes

Certainly I would not under-estimate the gravity of the recent outbreaks which caused the whole House grave concern. But the House has debated the matter, and the developments of recent weeks have done nothing to justify reversing my predecessor's decision.

Mr. Ridley

Is the Minister aware that the Minister of Technology has said that the reason why the ban could not be imposed was because the Government wanted to sell some Beagle aircraft to the Argentine? This is a shabby and not very convincing reason. Will the Minister have a word with his right hon. Friend and tell him not to say such silly things?

Mr. Hughes

I think that supplementary question is very unfair. The ban on mutton has been maintained, as the hon. Gentleman knows; but, for reasons which have been fully explained in the House, the ban on beef was lifted.

8. Mr. Monro

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what tonnage of chilled and frozen beef was imported from South America into the United Kingdom during April, 1968.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

I regret that this information will not be available until the Overseas Trade Accounts for April are presented to the House towards the end of this month.

Mr. Monro

Is it not extraordinary that the Government do not know how much meat was imported in April? Can the Minister say whether it was more or less than was forecast by his predecessor on 3rd April?

Mr. Hughes

Information from trade sources about cargo space booked can sometimes be useful in estimating future arrivals, but cargo space booked is not always filled, so it is difficult to give precise figures.

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