HC Deb 18 November 1987 vol 122 cc1058-9
11. Mr. Wigley

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to pay an official visit to New Zealand.

Mr. Eggar

My right hon. and learned Friend has no plans at present to visit New Zealand.

Mr. Wigley

Can the Minister tell the House what representations the Government have had from New Zealand concerning the access of New Zealand butter to the United Kingdom, particularly after 1988 when the present agreement runs out and in view of the importance of this matter not only to New Zealand. but, from a different view, to the dairy producers in Britain? In particular, can he tell the House the Government's standpoint on the possibility of making the quota of New Zealand butter that currently comes to the United Kingdom available to the EEC?

Mr. Eggar

The questions that the hon. Gentleman has raised are, of course, a matter for the Community as a whole to answer, but, for our part, we shall continue to support the New Zealand case for access for its butter.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

Will my hon. Friend remind his right hon. and learned Friend that he called the New Zealand Government's attention to this country's extreme irritation at their attitude to defence and linked that, at that time, to the import of New Zealand butter?

Mr. Eggar

We were not very happy with the New Zealand anti-nuclear legislation that was enacted last June. There is no way in which Her Majesty's Government can change that legislation ; nor, because of that legislation, is there any way in which we can contemplate sending Royal Navy ships to New Zealand ports, unless New Zealand amends or repeals that Act.

Mr. Corbett

I thank the Minister for the support that he expressed a few moments ago for the continued access of New Zealand butter to the United Kingdom market. Will he confirm that, even if the Community were to change its view on access, that would not make any significant contribution to avoiding the problem of expensive over-production of dairy products within the Community?

Mr. Eggar

As regards over-production, the important thing is the steps that have already been taken within the Community to reduce Community production, but we must take account of New Zealand's ability to undercut production prices within the Community. That is an inevitable factor that will be considered.