HC Deb 12 July 1979 vol 970 cc637-9
1. Miss Richardson

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what obligations he has entered into concerning devaluation of the green pound at the next EEC price determination.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Peter Walker)

None, Sir.

Miss Richardson

I find it difficult to understand that answer because, in agreeing to the present devaluation, does it not follow that there is a commitment for a further devaluation? How does that fit in with the Tory Party manifesto commitment?

Mr. Walker

The hon. Lady is mistaken. If there had been a special green pound devaluation on pigmeat, a further devaluation in other commodities would have followed. However, as there was no special devaluation, that no longer applies.

Mr. Lawrence

Is my right hon. Friend aware that pig farmers in Staffordshire are particularly pleased with the result of the last devaluation, but that the true revival of the pig producing industry in Staffordshire, and probably in the rest of the country, will not come about unless an extra effort is made and there is a further devaluation, particularly in the pigmeat sector?

Mr. Walker

It has to be appreciated that there has been an improvement. Four months ago the positive MCAs in pigmeat were at 8 per cent., and they are now down to almost 5 per cent. There are considerable problems in the industry, but I do not believe that there is great scope for further devaluation. We have to concentrate much more on the processing and marketing problems in the industry.

Mr. Mason

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that, on the question of butter prices, he has misled the House and, indeed, the British housewife? To what extent, since his last price deter- mination, have butter prices come down in the shops? As a 5 per cent. devalution increases butter prices by 3.5p per pound and there have been two devaluations this year, was it not a false promise to make?

Mr. Walker

The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly right. I misled the House when I said that butter prices would come down by 6p. I checked butter prices this morning. Tesco's New Zealand butter has come down by 7p, Fine Fare's English butter has come down by between 7p and 10p, Sainsbury's butter—I agree—has come down by 6p, Associated Dairies' Irish butter has come down by 7p and the Co-op reductions vary between 6p and 10p around the country.

Mr. Mason

In view of the two devaluations to which I referred, which should increase the price of butter by 6.10p, how long will those reductions last?

Mr. Walker

The difference between our two parties is that when the right hon. Gentleman was a member of the Labour Cabinet that Cabinet agreed to a 5 per cent. devaluation with no increase in the butter subsidy. We have obtained a butter subsidy that pays for both his devaluation and mine.