HC Deb 11 April 1974 vol 872 cc628-9
24. Mr. Dykes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on his proposals for the reorganisation of the sugar industry in Great Britain.

Mr. Peart

I am considering this matter urgently, but I am not yet in a position to make a statement.

Mr. Dykes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that answer is as complacent as the answer given by the Minister of State about the pig industry? Is he further aware that there is an acute shortage of the sugar needed for manufacturing industry in this country—so much so that it will not be long before it begins to affect housewives? When does he think that will be? Will he consider taking much more urgent action than he has so far contemplated?

Mr. Peart

I hope the hon. Gentleman realises that the current shortage of sugar is not caused by any arguments about the reorganisation of the industry. I am having urgent talks with the industry, sections of which I have already met. Discussions under the previous Government went on for a long time. I must be responsible for my decision, and it is therefore right that I should have proper discussions.

Mr. Pym

Does the right hon. Gentleman expect any difficulty, from the Commonwealth point of view, in supplying the 1.4 million tons? Will he assure the House that he is negotiating the maximum possible increase in the sugar beet acreage quota in Europe? Does he not think, in view of the present situation, that it is a matter of urgency that a speedy conclusion should be reached about the industry's reorganisation?

Mr. Peart

The right hon. Member has raised wider issues on this question. I am dealing specifically with reorganisation. I shall note carefully the points that he has made. I have already met Commonwealth Governments on this subject and I have been to Brussels. I give the right hon. Gentleman my assurance that I am aware of the urgency of the matter. I hope to make a statement as soon as possible.

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