HC Deb 18 July 1973 vol 860 c481
21. Mr. W. H. K. Baker

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what were the figures for the most recent cattle census for Scotland.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The provisional results of the 1973 June census indicate that there are 2,580,000 cattle, 1,920,000 in the beef herd and 660,000 in the dairy herd, representing increases of 8, 10 and 3 per cent. respectively compared with June 1972.

Mr. Baker

Are not these most encouraging figures? Does my hon. Friend agree that the industry is indeed working in the interests of the consumer of beef in Scotland?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I am grateful for what my hon. Friend has said. The expansion of the beef herd in Scotland in the last 12 months is the biggest annual increase ever recorded. My hon. Friend is absolutely right that increased self-sufficiency of this nature helps to protect the British housewife and consumer from the full effects of world shortages.

Mr. Strang

When will the Government stop this nonsense of pretending that one of the arguments for British agricultural expansion is that it will reduce food prices? That was never true. In the Common Market it is doubly untrue. Of course we are in favour of expansion, but that does not mean lower food prices, so the Government should stop kidding the public.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The implication of that supplementary question is that the hon. Gentleman and his party do not want a greater degree of self-sufficiency for Britain. That will be noted by farmers and housewives, whose interests an expanded British agriculture can help, in respect of prices.