HC Deb 16 April 1981 vol 3 cc424-5
24. Mr. Peter Lloyd

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has come to a decision on the question of temporary aid for the United Kingdom glasshouse industry while it is facing competition from growers in other parts of the European Economic Community who enjoy subsidised fuel prices.

Mr. Peter Walker

I am giving the matter urgent attention and hope to reach a decision shortly.

Mr. Lloyd

I thank my right hon. Friend for that encouraging reply. Does he accept that speed is now of the essence?

Mr. Walker

I appreciate the serious situation of the glasshouse industry. As I said earlier, I had hoped to have the details of the Dutch gas prices so that the appropriate comparisons could be made. I hope that we can act quickly once the announcement is made.

Mr. Stephen Ross

I urge on the Minister the need for urgent action in this connection. Will he confirm that there is no truth in the rumour that foot and mouth disease was brought to the Isle of Wight in horticultural packaging of any sort?

Mr. Walker

I take advantage of that supplementary question to say how pleased I am that we have been able to lift the appropriate restrictions. I was grateful to receive a letter from the farmer who was originally primarily concerned, and whose stock had to be destroyed, in which he paid tribute to the swift action taken by veterinary staff in my Department.

Mr. Beith

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Through you, I thank the Minister for making that statement on foot and mouth disease. However, is it not a great discourtesy to the House that so many Conservative Members who profess a great interest in agriculture are not present?

Mr. Speaker

Order. Even on Maundy Thursday it is not a point of order if hon. Members are not here now.

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