HC Deb 28 July 1983 vol 46 cc1312-3
2. Mr. Colin Shepherd

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied that there will be sufficient United Kingdom grown wheat available to the United Kingdom poultry industry for the harvest year 1983–84 at prices which will enable fairly based competition with other European Community-based poultry producers.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Michael Jopling)

Unless yields are unexpectedly low, there should be more than enough wheat to cover the needs of United Kingdom poultry producers and other users. On present indications, market prices for wheat will be lower in the United Kingdom than in other European Community countries in the early part of the season. This will give an advantage to our poultry industry.

Mr. Shepherd

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is substantial anxiety in the poultry industry that last year's circumstances might recur in the coming year, in that more favourable prices for feed wheat in France led to exports from this country, leading to United Kingdom poultry producers having to pay higher prices than they would otherwise have had to? What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to try to establish uniform interpretation of the differences between hard and soft wheats, especially by the French, because this is where the root of the problem lies?

Mr. Jopling

The Government will do all that they can to ensure that the United Kingdom cereals market is supported to the same extent as markets elsewhere in the Community and to prevent excessive exports from this country. This season, the answer is very much in the hands of the buyers, sellers and users of grain. We are likely to have low prices for wheat at the beginning of the season, and I hope that all those who use the grain will take advantage of these low prices to cover their needs later on.

Mr. Hardy

The Minister may want our cereals industry to operate on a competitive and fair basis, but will he explain why French eggs are brought into Britain and sold at prices which must be below the cost of production both here and in France?


It is difficult to make a case for saying that French eggs are dumped here. This year we have exported more eggs than we have imported.

Mr. Spence

On competition generally, will the Minister keep an eye on the other inputs that are available elsewhere in the Community and which are equally capable of distorting competition for our poultry industry, which is a highly productive and efficient industry?

Mr. Jopling

We shall continue to do all we can to make sure that the competitiveness of our poultry industry is not undermined by unfair practices in other parts of the Community.