HC Deb 11 December 1975 vol 902 cc640-1
10. Mr. Hardy

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has received representations concerning the possibility of large quantities of eggs being imported from France in the first quarter of 1976; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Bishop

My right hon. Friend has received representations on these lines. Sales of French eggs in this country have, however, recently been at relatively low levels and the sales in other markets have increased. I have no evidence to suggest that this trend, which has in part been encouraged by Community action, will be reversed.

Mr. Hardy

I congratulate my hon. Friend on sorting out the tangle of difficulty with arsenical additives and so on. However, will he bear in mind that there are fears that the continuing over-production of eggs in France seems likely to lead to dumping in this country in the early part of 1976? Will my hon. Friend also note that a recent attempt to sell British eggs in France has been entirely unsuccessful, and will he draw this fact to the attention of British consumers in the hope that they will not overlook that reaction?

Mr. Bishop

I appreciate my hon. Friend's concern and I take note of his comment about the difficulty of selling British eggs in France. However, by changing the situation with regard to the use of arsenical additives we have at least now made it possible to export eggs to France. But it is a matter of being competitive. My hon. Friend will be pleased to note that France sent us only 2,100 boxes of the estimated total of supplies in the week ending 23rd November—total supplies that week were 727,000 boxes—representing only .38 per cent. of our total supplies. There are also other indications that export restitutions are encouraging the export of eggs from France to third countries, and I understand that check placings in the Community in the first half of this year were down on last year's figure.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

Actual size in this matter is not important. Will the hon. Gentleman assure the House that exports in both directions are being treated by Governments on both sides of the Channel in exactly the same way?

Mr. Bishop

We are very sensitive about the importance of this matter. Now that we have made it possible for British eggs to be exported, we want to make sure there is freedom in this situation. We are in touch with the French authorities and, indeed, with the Community to bring about a greater stability in supply and demand in relation to eggs.