HC Deb 07 February 1974 vol 868 cc1347-8
4. Mr. Orme

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether intervention buying of beef for storage is now proposed in the EEC countries.

The Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Anthony Stodart)

It has been possible to offer beef for sale to intervention agencies in the EEC since July last year.

Mr. Orme

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this hoarding of beef, which I understand the Government have already undertaken to do, has meant that old-age pensioners have had their consumption of beef reduced by 25 per cent. since 1970? That is outrageous. Why do not the Government release the beef that is available?

Mr. Stodart

Because intervention, as I have told the House several times, is an alternative method of supporting the market. If producers do not get a worthwhile price for producing beef, none will be produced.

Mr. John Wells

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that there has been an overall increase, however small, in meat consumption in the past two years?

Mr. Stodart

I certainly take the opportunity of saying that the propaganda put out by the hon. Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) is either foolish or determined to distort. I believe it to be the latter, because the consumption of meat is higher than it was at the date that he says.

Mr. Paget

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at this moment calves that a year ago were fetching £60 are being sent to kennels for the hounds, and that this is a wonderful example of how to pass from one shortage to another?

Mr. Stodart

The hon. and learned Member should not exaggerate the position.

Mr. Paget

It is true.

Mr. Moate

Will my right hon. Friend say whether intervention buying of beef in the United Kingdom has actually taken place?

Mr. Stodart

Yes, Sir—25 tons have been bought in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Shore

But do not the fact that we have already started intervention buying of beef and the fact that we have already had to introduce an 8 per cent. tax on imported New Zealand lamb since 1st January entirely blow the gaff on the Ministry's excuse that the increase in beef prices in Britain is due to world prices and not to the arrangements of the CAP? Will he undertake that in the last few weeks of this Government they will not enter into any further arrangements and agreements to increase food prices in Britain?

Mr. Stodart

I may knock the smile off the right hon. Gentleman's face by saying that despite what he says the price of lamb has fallen since the import duty was introduced.

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