HC Deb 06 May 1976 vol 910 cc1448-9
3. Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent discussions he has had with Messrs. Tate and Lyle, Messrs. Manbre and Garton and the British Sugar Corporation about the refining of sugar.

The Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. E. S. Bishop)

We are having a series of discussions with the interested parties, which we hope to conclude by the end of May. However, further consultations after then will no doubt be needed before all the necessary decisions can be announced.

Mr. Taylor

Is the Minister aware that under the plans discussed with the Government several hundred jobs in Greenock and Liverpool will be lost, because we are prevented by EEC regulations from importing more than 1.4 million tons of sugar? In view of the serious unemployment in Greenock and Liverpool, will the Minister and his colleagues approach the EEC with the request to be allowed free imports of cane sugar?

Mr. Bishop

The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the negotiations that are under way between the Community and the ACP countries. I appreciate his natural concern and that of many others about the future prospects of the industry. My right hon. Friend is in close touch with the trade unions and others in the consultations that are taking place.

Mr. Ward

Have the trade unions representing the beet sugar industry been a party to these discussions? Will my hon. Friend confirm that there will be the fullest discussion with all those interests, particularly in eastern England, as part of his overall presentation?

Mr. Bishop

Yes. I appreciate the concern of the unions involved. I have one beet sugar factory in my constituency. The unions have been in touch with our officials on this matter, so that their point of view can be taken into account.

Several hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Mr. Adley. Question No. 4.

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. It is very unfortunate for hon. Members to make a noise like that, because we spent a long time on the previous Question. If we moved at that pace, Question No. 12 would not he reached, and it would be unfair to hon. Members who have put down later Questions.