HC Deb 02 December 1982 vol 33 cc381-2
3. Mr. Parry

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has received any representations from the edible oil industry on Merseyside concerning the Lyons Maid factory.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith)

No, Sir.

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.