HC Deb 06 March 1986 vol 93 cc432-3
5. Mr. Maclennan

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the future funding of Food from Britain.

Mr. Jopling

I have made clear the extent of Government support for Food from Britain until 1991 provided industry is also willing to contribute. Discussions on industry funding are continuing and I am hopeful that satisfactory arrangements will be agreed soon.

Mr. Maclennan

Does the Minister regard it as satisfactory that the budget for Food from Britain is being cut from £6.3 million to £4.8 million in the forthcoming year? Will the Minister step in to make good this shortfall, or will he allow this attempt to promote British foods abroad languish through lack of finances and lack of Government backing?

Mr. Jopling

The hon. Gentleman has not done his homework. He will remember that originally the Government promised £14 million over the first five years as pump-priming funds. Out of that arrangement, there remains for 1986–87 the £3 million that was promised, and that will be paid. For 1987–88 there is £2 million, which will be paid.

Mr. Ashton

Is the Minister aware that in agriculture there is always satisfactory funding for everyone except farm workers? Is he aware that farm workers now receive a basic wage of £89 a week? That is for a week, not the figures which are usually given for a week and a half, including overtime. When will the Minister answer the justified demands of the farm workers union for a decent living wage for the profits that its members have created?

Mr. Speaker

That was a bit wide of funding Food from Britain.

Mr. Jopling

I was wondering by what stretch of the imagination that supplementary question could attach itself to this question, which is about Food from Britain. If Food from Britain is allowed, as I hope it will be, to continue its good work, that will be in the interests of farmers, farm workers, the consumer and the taxpayer alike.

Sir John Farr

I remind my right hon. Friend that Food from Britain was launched when our food supply was more or less in equilibrium. Is there not now a need to strengthen our export efforts as we have a large surplus in most commodities?

Mr. Jopling

I agree with my hon. Friend. He has put his finger on it. It is important, as marketing becomes more and more essential, that the industry should—as I know it is trying to do—give Food from Britain its full support so that it may do its job properly.

Mr. Home Robertson

How can Food from Britain survive as an effective organisation in the present circumstances? I agree with the Minister that the industry ought to provide more funds for it, but failing that, how can it survive? Is it the Department's intention to guarantee the future of Food from Britain? If not, how can we have an effective organisation to promote the sale of food from Britain at home and abroad?

Mr. Jopling

The hon. Gentleman should recall that last October I announced that when the £14 million pump-priming funds ran out in 1987–88, up to £2.5 million would be available in each of the subsequent years to 1990–91, and that would be done on the basis of £1 for every £2 from industry. The industry greeted the announcement with a great deal of enthusiasm and gratitude, and I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman is so carping about it.