HC Deb 16 November 1971 vol 826 cc196-9
8. Mr. Boscawen

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on foot-and-mouth regulations in the European Economic Community, should Great Britain join.

39. Mr. Scott-Hopkins

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether the existing animal health regulations of the United Kingdom will continue unchanged after United Kingdom entry into the European Economic Community.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

As my right hon. Friend told the House during the debate on 21st October, we are still negotiating on a number of problems arising from differences between our systems of disease control and those which operate in the Community. I cannot at present add to what he said.

Mr. Boscawen

Will my hon. Friend reassure the industry that he is not prepared to negotiate any arrangements allowing stock vaccinated against foot-and-mouth disease to be imported? Furthermore, will he reassure the industry that he will not bargain our animal health regulations in any way against those of the Continent, but will seek with our future European partners to tighten up their regulations and to bring them up to our standards?

Mr. Stodart

I certainly subscribe to what my hon. Friend said, and I would remind him that my right hon. Friend has made it clear that he will agree to nothing which will give rise to unjustifiable risks to the standards which have been achieved here.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

Will the hon. Gentleman expand his answer? Is he saying that the Government will oppose any importation of vaccinated stock into this country?

Mr. Stodart

Having followed the words of my right hon. Friend, the right hon. Gentleman must know that this is a matter for negotiation and discussion at present. My right hon. Friend informed the House about a group being formed in Brussels to go into this matter.

12. Mr. Drayson

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the future of the Milk Marketing Board, should Great Britain enter the European Economic Community.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

I expect the essential functions of the Milk Marketing Board to continue.

Mr. Drayson

Does my hon. Friend envisage the continuation of the two-tier system on prices incorporating a standard quantity?

Mr. Stodart

On such matters as the pooling of prices, it has been agreed with the E.E.C. that producer organisations of this kind may do virtually as they see fit in order to get the best return for their money.

Mr. Hooson

Have there been any negotiations about the pooled transport price arrangement, which appears contradictory to E.E.C. regulations? Can this be expected to continue if we join the Common Market?

Mr. Stodart

The question of transport costs is another matter about which agreement has been reached with the E.E.C. An organisation of this kind can send its milk where it likes in order to get the best return for its producers.

14. Sir Clive Bossom

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on hill farming prospects when Great Britain enters the European Economic Community.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

Entry should give our hill farmers a stronger market for their stock. Producer prices for beef, mutton and lamb are higher in the Community and the consumption of meat per head in the existing Member countries is rising faster than it is here. The Community also recognise the need for special action in areas with special difficulties, and I am satisfied that we shall be able to give the continuing assistance needed to maintain the incomes of farmers in the hills.

Sir Clive Bossom

While thanking my hon. Friend for that encouraging reply, may I ask whether he is aware of the growing importance of sheep husbandry in areas like Herefordshire and the Welsh Border? Will it be helped and encouraged further by this Government?

Mr. Stodart

My hon. Friend must have noticed the quite astonishing change in attitude amongst sheep producers between this year and last.

Mr. Swain

Having given that answer, is the hon. Gentleman aware that in West Germany it is almost impossible for the ordinary housewife to buy beef, which is a very important consumer product, at a price that she can afford, even with West Germany's enhanced level of wage rates?

Mr. Stodart

I do not know whether my experience of West Germany is greater or less than that of the hon. Gentleman, but that is not what I have heard.

17. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made on negotiations over fisheries policy with the European Economic Community; and what further representations he has received from the fishing industry.

31. Mr. James Johnson

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the latest position regarding the discussions with the European Economic Community over fisheries policy; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Prior

I have nothing to add to the statement by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 11th November.—[Vol. 825, c. 1238–46.]

Mr. Wall

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the industry is well satisfied with the Government's stated intention of maintaining the status quo and of not accepting any narrower limits than Norway? Will he comment on the statement which appeared in the Press that negotiations timed for the end of this month have been postponed and that the Commission is wholly unsympathetic to the Government's point of view?

Mr. Prior

I cannot comment on either of those points. I have had no information in that vein on either of those points. I think that, from the last talks which my right hon. and learned Friend had, there was a growing understanding, both at home and in the Community, of the case we had put and of what was necessary.

Mr. Johnson

In view of the shadow boxing display put up last Thursday by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, which was intensely disliked by my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself, will the right hon. Gentleman, if only for his own constituents in Lowestoft who are fishermen, give the House a firm assurance that we shall not accept any less or any worse terms than any other applicant?

Mr. Prior

We have always said—I said this very clearly in the debate—that we must and would expect to receive comparable treatment with Norway and the other candidate countries. I reaffirm that today in the strongest possible language.

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