HC Deb 01 November 1979 vol 972 c1442
22. Mr. Torney

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proposals he has to assist the bacon industry in marketing its products in order to make the industry more competitive with the European bacon industry; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Monetary compensatory amounts are now much reduced so that the bacon industry is now competing with imports on fairer terms. It is primarily a matter for the industry itself to improve the marketing of its products, but the marketing advisers my right hon. Friend appointed in July are also examining this.

Mr. Torney

I thank the Minister for those remarks, but may I ask if he is aware that the bacon industry has gone through an extremely trying time over the last few years? There has been a shrinkage in the industry, and considerable unemployment. Will he take steps to change the common agricultural policy so that the situation is improved? Will he also take steps to take up the allowances from the EEC which will help to modernise our bacon industry?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will reflect on which party was in power over the last five years when the industry went through the distress that he has described. Monetary compensatory amounts, a subsidy enjoyed by European bacon coming into Britain, were at a level of £231 a tonne in March. They are £77 a tonne today. As a result of the policy of the present Government, the bacon industry is in a very much stronger position than it has been over the last five years.