HC Deb 19 January 1971 vol 809 cc700-1
7. Mr. Strang

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the future of the Meat and Livestock Commission.

Mr. Prior

As I indicated in yesterday's White Paper on the work of my Ministry, my right hon. Friends and I are satisfied that the Commission has a useful rôle to play at the present time.

Mr. Strang

While I welcome the Minister's acceptance of the important contribution which the M.L.C. can make, will he assure the House that the Corn-mission will not be debarred from evaluating the products of livestock breeders, as it wants to do? If it is not to be debarred from this function, why is it right for the M.L.C. to evaluate the current market products of breeding firms but wrong for the National Institute of Agricultural Engineering to evaluate the machinery of agricultural engineering firms?

Mr. Prior

I regret to say that I shall have to write to the hon. Gentleman about this. It is a very technical matter and I require notice of it. As for the M.L.C., for the moment the position stands as it is set out in the White Paper. But I will write to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Peter Mills

Will the Minister bear in mind that British agriculture has not always been able to practise good husbandry for the reason that farmers have not had good enough end prices? In future, will my right hon. Friend ensure that they have good enough prices?

Mr. Prior

Yes, Sir. The need in British agriculture at present is for a higher end price. If it were not for a prosperous British agriculture, the housewife would have to pay a lot more for food than she does pay.

Earl of Dalkeith

How much is the Meat and Livestock Commission costing the taxpayer?

Mr. Prior

The only charges on the taxpayer are those for the salaries of the members of the Commission. The rest of the costs are borne by the industry by means of the levy.