HC Deb 28 July 1983 vol 46 cc1320-1
11. Mr. Gould

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the trend in the level of imports of New Zealand lamb into the United Kingdom over the past two years.

Mr. MacGregor

Imports of lamb from New Zealand have been declining for many years, but there are fluctuations from year to year and they rose by about 40 per cent. last year from their lowest ever level in 1981. This year's figures are expected to show a decline on 1982, but still be above the 1981 level.

Mr. Gould

Are we not entering a cycle that is familiar in other EC food regimes, whereby tax is imposed upon food so prices go up and consumption falls and everyone —the taxpayer, our traditional suppliers and consumers —suffers?

Mr. MacGregor

The problem this year is somewhat different. The problem is that the low price for fresh lamb is affecting New Zealand exporters'decisions. In this instance the hon. Gentleman's point does not arise.

Sir John Biggs-Davison

Do the Government wish to maintain, or progressively extinguish, imports of New Zealand lamb?

Mr. MacGregor

My hon. Friend will know that the voluntary restraint agreements are to be reviewed in the coming months. We shall be anxious to guarantee continued access for adequate supplies of New Zealand lamb and to ensure that the Community honours its international trading obligations.