HC Deb 15 July 1981 vol 8 cc1160-1
3. Mr. Myles

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the competitive position of the poultry sector of the agriculture industry in Scotland.

Mr. Younger

In the free Community market which applies to eggs and poultry meat, I am concerned to ensure that the Scottish industry—which is undoubtedly efficient—is able to compete against imports on a fair and equitable basis.

Mr. Myles

Does my right hon. Friend realise that although a poultry processing plant in my constituency received a FEOGA grant from Europe of £39,000 recently, it is finding it difficult to compete with the level and cost of imports?

Mr. Younger

I appreciate the problem that my hon. Friend mentioned. We are concerned about reports that we have received about overseas subsidisation in this sector, which is affecting our home industry. We have raised the matter with the Commission and hope that it will look into it urgently.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Is the Secretary of State aware that his right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food maintains that there is no mechanism by which the Government can police imports of poultry meat? Not only poultry factories, but hatcheries, feed mills and everything else in the industry are closing. What action will he take, other than simply asking the Commission to investigate the matter?

Mr. Younger

That is the first step open to us. We expect the Commission to take the point seriously and to take action. We operate within Community law, and we intend to continue to do so.