HC Deb 23 May 1977 vol 932 cc990-2
3. Mr. Geraint Howells

asked the Secretary of State for Wales when he next intends to meet the EEC Commissioner with responsibilities for agriculture.

Mr. John Morris

I have no plans to meet Mr. Gundelach in the immediate future.

Mr. Howells

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the ruling of the European Court over the weekend to forbid the Government to pay the subsidy to pig producers in Wales will have a disastrous effect on the industry? What plans has he in mind, short term and long term, to help the pig industry in Wales?

Mr. Morris

My right hon. Friend and I are conscious of the real difficulties of the pig sector. My right hon. Friend has done his utmost to try to help it. I have not yet seen the text of the judgment delivered in the court on Saturday, but my right hon. Friend and I, and other ministerial colleagues, will consider the matter as soon as may be.

Mr. Kinnock

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that resentment against various policies of the Common Market goes way beyond the unfortunate case of pig breeders in Wales and extends to every household and every consumer—indeed, to all those who are now faced with ever-rising prices? Will he tell Mr. Gundelach that it is fast becoming the majority opinion in this country that we made an absolutely crazy mistake to stay in the Common Market and that a great deal of support is being given to the idea of withdrawal from the CAP?

Mr. Morris

That does not arise from the Question put by the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Howells). We may differ on whether it was right to stay in the EEC, but I can assure the House that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will do his utmost for the whole of British agriculture and for the consumer.

Mr. Gwynfor Evans

When the right hon. and learned Gentleman meets the Commissioner will he make clear to him that one of the main anxieties of farmers in Wales these days is the future of the boards, especially the Milk Marketing Board? Will he make it clear that the Government will not tolerate their disappearance, or even their erosion?

Mr. Morris

I can assure the hon. Gentleman on that score. Time after time my right hon. Friend has made it abundantly clear where the Government stand on the future of the Milk Marketing Board. It is an organisation that has brought immense good to Wales over a long period. I know its significance as well as anyone.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the chickens are now coming home to roost for British farmers who supported British entry into the Common Market? Does he agree that we had a perfectly efficient agriculture industry, giving a fair deal both for the consumer and for the farmer? Is it not time that the Government give notice that we shall contract out of the common agricultural policy?

Mr. Morris

I am not sure whether chickens coming home to roost arise from a Question about pigs. I am confident that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will do his utmost both for agriculture and the consumer, who is dependent upon agriculture.

Mr. Marten

As the pigs are now coming back into their pig sties, as it were, is this not a good example of the need for a national agricultural policy so that we may do what we think is right for British pig producers?

Mr. Morris

We know the stand that the hon. Gentleman has taken on the whole issue of the CAP. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that in this case my right hon. Friend was seeking to do his utmost to help the pig industry.