§ 8. Mr. Hicks
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will give a progress report on the discussions that are taking place between representatives of the horticultural industry and officials of his Department on the subject of possible Government assistance to those sections of that industry that could 1104 be adversely affected as a direct consequence of United Kingdom membership of the European Economic Community.
§ Mr. Hicks
Is my right hon. Friend aware of the genuine apprehension felt not only by growers of apples and pears but by growers of early strawberries, and particularly by those in scattered and isolated rural areas such as the Tamar Valley, where any decline in this industry would have adverse social as well as economic repercussions?
§ Mr. Prior
Yes, Sir. I am well aware of the point my hon. Friend makes, particularly about Tamar Valley strawberry growers. It is too early yet to say how the negotiations which we are having with the National Farmers Union will turn out. Some of the problems in areas like the Tamar Valley are not caused by the import of strawberries but by new ways of producing strawberries in other parts of Britain.
—and from the Vale of Evesham, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to note that in Lancashire we have possibly the biggest section of the agricultural industry in Britain under glass and that I am informed by the N.F.U. in Lancashire that if the terms of entry into the E.E.C. are carried out in accordance with the prospective treaty arrangements with the Six, the industry in Lancashire will be completely crippled? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the fear of the Lancashire industry of the dire prospects that are likely if the Government's policies in this matter are carried out, fears that have been expressed in letters to me and which I will willingly give the right hon. Gentleman?
§ 9. Mr. Strang
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received regarding the latest developments in the fisheries negotiations with the European Economic Community.
§ Mr. Strang
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a letter which the Prime Minister is reported to have sent to the Norwegian Prime Minister prior to the last set of negotiations suggests that Her Majesty's Government are more concerned with completing the fisheries negotiations in time to sign the Treaty of Accession than they are about getting the best possible deal for our fishermen? May we be assured that the Government will not accept an agreement on fishery limits which is of temporary duration and will press for a 12-mile limit?
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes
Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that he is still approaching these negotiations in the manner of a joint approach with Norway, Denmark and the Republic of Ireland? Will Her Majesty's Government continue to press for a 12-mile limit as a matter of principle, if necessary independently of Norway? In other words, if Norway opts out, will Her Majesty's Government continue to press for a 12-mile limit?
§ 10. Mr. Peter Mills
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what changes in policy have taken place recently in the common agricultural policy and what will be the effect of these changes and future trends.
§ Mr. Mills
Does my right hon. Friend not agree that there are bound to be changes, with four new members coming into the Community, and that we have a part to play in these changes? Does he agree that, in any of these changes, the basic principles of British agriculture, such as the Milk Marketing Board, the hill cow subsidy, and the like, which we hold dear, must be maintained?
§ Mr. Deakins
Is it not a fact that food prices in the Community are going up and that this gives the lie to the confident prediction of the Government's Common Market White Paper that the gap between world food prices and those likely to be encountered in the Community was getting narrower?
§ Mr. Hardy
Is the Minister aware of the widespread concern about this matter? Will he not make it clear to the Six that our standards of hygiene and humanity are high and frequently much higher than the standards applying in the Six? Can he give a clear assurance that when harmonisation takes place it will not have an adverse effect on practices currently very satisfactory, or approaching that, in Britain?
§ Mr. Stodart
As to hygiene, I believe that on many matters the standards in the Community are as high as ours. On animal welfare, there is a convention before the Council of Europe on this matter of intensive rearing and we shall help to draft that, if we join. I certainly hope that we would allow no lessening of the standards we have at present.
§ Mr. Marten
As we have had to give way on so many points about the Common Market, could we not make this a test case on the question of humanity and say that we will not go in until they amend their rules to our standards?
§ Mr. Pardoe
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that animal welfare conditions in Europe are much more lax than here? Will he make it clear here and now that ours are right and theirs are wrong and, if no change can be brought about in their conditions, will he ensure that there are adequate tariffs to protect British farmers who have to conform to higher standards?
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes
Will the Minister state clearly that the aim of the 1108 Government will be to obtain harmonisation up to the standard of our animal welfare codes and not to be satisfied with less?
§ Mr. Stodart
I said in my first answer that I was most concerned that we should not allow any lessening of the standards that we have.
§ 27. Mr. Deakins
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what measures he proposes to use to control the level of the United Kingdom pig population during any transitional period before European Economic Community membership.
§ Mr. Anthony Stodart
It is proposed to continue existing measures which form part of the guarantee arrangements for pigs prior to accession and into the transitional period.
§ Mr. Deakins
Can the hon. Gentleman assure us that the flexible guarantee arrangements for pigs will continue unamended until such time as they can be replaced by equally effective safeguards as part of Community legislation?
§ Mr. Stodart
The changes in the guarantee are a matter for the next Price Review. We shall adopt the Community system in the first year of membership, and as market prices are increased farmers will increasingly get their return from the market, and deficiency payments will be phased out. The details of this are still to be worked out.