HC Deb 19 January 1971 vol 809 cc697-8
2. Mr. Farr

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the total cattle population of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Derbyshire at the June, 1970 census; and how this compares with the total in June, 1969.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Anthony Stodart)

The total cattle population of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Derbyshire at the June, 1970, census was 605,433 compared with 615,581 in June, 1969.

Mr. Farr

I thank my hon. Friend for that Answer. Does it not show the complete failure of the Labour Government's alleged expansionist policy? May we be assured that his right hon. Friend is con- vinced of the necessity to reverse this disastrous trend?

Mr. Stodart

The figures which I have given represent a fall of 1½ per cent. compared with the national England and Wales increase of 0.5 per cent., which means only a marginal change. To answer the second part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, I should have thought that the action which we took in October, with the injection of capital, should do much to correct this situation.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the beef expansion programme is going extremely well and according to the targets set in the expansion programme? I am, of course, speaking about beef and not about dairy cattle.

Mr. Stodart

I was asked in the Question about the whole of the cattle population. It is true that beef cattle show an increase, and I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is an improvement on the previous erratic performance.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Why refer to an injection of income of less than the increase in costs as an "injection of capital"?

Mr. Stodart

I was not aware that I had used the phrase "injection of capital" in that context. I should have referred to the injection in October, and nobody will deny the value of what was equivalent to an extra £1 per cwt.

Mr. Mackie

Is this not a false way to present figures? The United Kingdom beef cattle population is up and the dairy cattle population is about the same. Milk supply is up—and that is what we want. After all, we do not want an increase in the number of milk cows unless we get more milk from them. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this is a bad way to present figures? What conclusion can be reached based simply on figures for Nottinghamshire?

Mr. Stodart

I have answered the Question.