HC Deb 28 July 1983 vol 46 cc1317-8
6. Mr. Nicholas Baker

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent representations he has received about the state of the poultry and egg industries.

Mr. MacGregor

I am aware of concern among producers about the present problems of the egg and poultry sectors, and have received a number of letters as well as one recent representation.

Mr. Baker

Does my hon. Friend agree that the problem affecting those industries stems principally from a decline in consumption, especially in the egg industry? Will he consider asking the European Commission to set up an organisation dealing with eggs and poultry to regulate supply and demand on a Community basis?

Mr. MacGregor

I agree that one of the problems stems from a decline in consumption. However, the other side of the coin is that last year's increase in the flocks has led to increased production. Thus, supply and demand are currently out of balance. However, I am not at all sure that my hon. Friend's solution is likely to be right on a European-wide scale. The marketing of eggs and poultry is important, together with the use of egg products. As my hon. Friend will know, a sectoral scheme for the processing industry in England and Wales is currently in preparation, and it may well help to deal with the problem.

Mr. Robert Atkins

Is my hon. Friend aware that many people involved in the production of both eggs and poultry in my constituency see French poultry, for example, being sold in Liverpool markets more cheaply than they can produce such poultry on their farms?

Mr. MacGregor

The problem is that producers in Britain have had to sell eggs at lower prices than they can produce them, as have French producers. Recently French egg prices have been hardening and as a result French imports have been falling off. However, it is important not to exaggerate the situation. So far during 1983 imports have been running at an average of 9,000 boxes per week. I am glad to say that exports from this country over the same period have averaged 25,000 boxes per week, and have gone mainly to other member states.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Will my hon. Friend confirm that in recent weeks he has received representations from the chairman of the British Poultry Federation? Will he further confirm that the BPF has put forward proposals about cereal intervention and about changes that would greatly benefit our pig and poultry producers? What response will my hon. Friend make to those representations, which will prove most beneficial to our pig and poultry producers?

Mr. MacGregor

I can confirm that representations have been received from the BPF on that, and on one or two other matters. We are considering the representations that my hon. Friend mentioned.

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