HC Deb 19 June 1974 vol 875 cc452-3
2. Mr. Fairgrieve

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from the Scottish beef and pig producing industries concerning the effects of Her Majesty's Government's policies and if he will make a statement.

Mr. William Ross

I have received representations from the National Farmers' Union of Scotland and others. The Government have started discussions with the unions about longer-term support measures. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will be making a statement today about decisions which were taken on beef and pigs at the recent Council of Ministers' meeting.

Mr. Fairgrieve

Does the Secretary of State appreciate that only last week there were further falls in the market in the price of beef, making the situation even more difficult than for the last three months?

Mr. Ross

Market prices until recently have been fairly firm, but there has since been some seasonal reduction. We have already taken action and we gave the pledge that we would take further action if that was necessary. The hon. Member should await the statement by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture later.

Mr. Monro

Will the Secretary of State accept that the Minister of Agriculture's statement in Luxembourg yesterday did absolutely nothing to restore confidence to the agriculture industry? Will he say whether the variable premium has been fixed for beef in this country, and how quickly it will be introduced, because at present all farmers are gravely concerned at the lack of speed shown by the Minister of Agriculture and the Secretary of State, who seem to equate with a tortoise?

Mr. Ross

I have seen the Scottish Farmers' Union and the Ayrshire farmers. Their concern was more related to the failures of the previous Government who did nothing while things got worse.

Mr. Monro

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the completely unsatisfactory nature of the reply I give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on another occasion.

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