§ Mr. Parry
I thank the Minister for his reply. The closure of the Lyons Maid factory will represent a reduction of only 2,000 tonnes of edible oil a year on Merseyside, but is the Minister aware that there will be further job losses in an area that can ill afford them? Will he give a clear assurance that the Government intend to defend the edible oil industry against any EC regulations that could bring about more unemployment?
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
I share the hon. Gentlman's concern about the closure of this factory. It is a wholly commercial decision by the company concerned. On Merseyside overall it should not have any dramatic effect. The amount of edible oil involved is 500 tonnes a year—not all of it from Merseyside—compared with a total production of over 200,000 tonnes. It is not all that significant. However, any loss of jobs is significant.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned the possibility of a Community tax on the import of such oils from outside the Community. This was suggested a year ago. We strongly opposed it then and shall do so again if it is proposed in future.