HC Deb 18 June 1969 vol 785 cc470-1
31. Mr. Gardner

asked the President of the Board of Trade if, in view of the recommendations of the Northumberland Committee on the importation of carcase meat from countries where foot-and-mouth disease is endemic, he will so reduce the 20 per cent. duty on imported boned meat as to ensure that the present levels of beef prices are not increased.

70. Mr. Willey

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a further statement on the proposed reduction of import duty on boneless meat.

Mr. Dell

It is the Government's intention that the duty should be reduced so that a reasonable amount of trade may flow. Before recommending the new rate, I shall take account of all relevant factors, including the probable effect on prices. Discussions with the interests concerned are continuing, and a statement will be made as soon as possible.

Mr. Gardner

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that his Department is responsible for consumer protection, and will he assure us that the duty will be reduced to an extent that will maintain beef prices? Will he resist pressure from sections of the agricultural industry which appear to want meat imports to be stopped altogether?

Mr. Dell

I note what my hon. Friend says. I hope that we shall be able to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion which will have a minimal effect on prices.

Mr. Jopling

Is the Minister aware that many South American countries which supply us with this meat run appalling trade deficits with us? Will he try to reduce this drain on our currency, in particular by encouraging home meat production instead of buying from overseas?

Mr. Dell

We are encouraging home meat production. What we are here considering is the duty on boneless beef.