HC Deb 29 July 1974 vol 878 cc4-5
2. Mr. Wyn Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list his functions relating to agriculture in Wales in connection with the EEC.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. John Morris)

My responsibilities for working out agricultural policy for Wales are shared with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and are precisely the same as those of my immediate predecessor, although I have decided as Secretary of State for Wales to exercise these responsibilities personally. These joint arrangements provide for full consultation on all agricultural matters relating to the EEC so far as they affect Wales.

Mr. Roberts

Is the Secretary of State aware that I tabled a Written Question to him on 11th July asking him to take steps to ensure that Gwynedd was included as a priority agricultural area within the EEC and that this Question was transferred to the Secretary of State for Industry, who gave me a very inadequate reply? Is he not aware that the farmers in Wales will be rather surprised to hear that he does not have direct responsibility for them within the EEC and will be shocked to hear that they are the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Industry?

Mr. Morris

The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood the position. Had the Question been transferred to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, he might have had cause to be shocked. The Question was transferred to the appropriate Minister, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry.

Mr. Alec Jones

Can my right hon. and learned Friend indicate, with regard to the functions which he exercises in agriculture, what sort of control, if any, he has over the activities of the Forestry Commission, since he will probably agree that there is much concern in some urban valleys of South Wales concerning recent developments by that body?

Mr. Morris

That is another question, but I am aware of the concern to which my hon. Friend refers and the particular case he has in mind. My right hon. and hon. Friends and I are looking into points he has raised during the past few weeks.

Mr. Geraint Howells

Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that Welsh agriculture is facing another crisis? I am sure he is aware of the Written Answer I received from the Minister of Agriculture stating that he is not reintroducing the guaranteed price system for beef. Does not the Secretary of State agree that this is an opportune time to have a Minister of State for agriculture in Wales?

Mr. Morris

I understand that the hon. Gentleman has previously canvassed for a Minister of State for agriculture. I have made the point clearly when he was absent from the House that I am Secretary of State for Wales and that I have taken personal responsibility for agriculture in Wales. I would also point out that a Secretary of State ranks before a Minister of State. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be aware of the welcome received in Wales to the proposals put forward by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture in his latest Brussels proposals.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

How many meetings of the EEC Agriculture Ministers has the Secretary of State attended? Does he plan to attend any further such meettings before the end of the year, unless there are intervening circumstances?

Mr. Morris

With regard to agricultural discussions in Brussels, the interests of the whole of the United Kingdom are represented by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture. I have been to Brussels recently to examine for myself the whole range of issues concerning the Principality.