HC Deb 12 April 1973 vol 854 c1496
18. Mr. Farr

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the rate of expansion of the national beef herd in recent years; and what is its rate of growth at the latest available date.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

In the five years up to and including 1971 the beef breeding herd expanded at an annual average of between 4 per cent. and 5 per cent. In the year ending December last an increase of 10 per cent. was recorded, and the number of beef heifers in calf for the first time increased by 60 per cent.

Mr. Farr

May I congratulate my hon. Friend upon those remarkable figures? Will he confirm that it is fair to say that if this level of expansion had been reached by the previous Government more home beef would have been available for slaughter now, with the result that beef prices would be lower?

Mr. Stodart

My hon. Friend is absolutely right.

Mr. Burden

That is all very well, but is my hon. Friend aware that it is not very satisfactory to know that the extra beef that is being produced is being sent abroad for slaughter, on the hoof, in conditions which are intolerable to the people of this country? Does he not agree that it would be better to retain these animals here instead of having to replace them by imports?

Mr. Stodart

The amount going out is so minimal that it would make no difference and would put us in the greatest difficulty in getting supplies elsewhere, because others would have taken our place.