§ 1. Mr. Strang
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he last met representatives of the Agricultural and Allied Workers National Trade Group to discuss the poultry industry; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Donald Thompson)
I have agreed to meet a delegation from the Agricultural and Allied Workers National Trade Group on 18 November to discuss the poultry industry.
§ Mr. Strang
Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that we are looking forward to the meeting with the delegation next month? Since we asked for the meeting, poultry and other agricultural workers in tied cottages have been hit by a bombshell from the hon. Gentleman's counterpart in the Department of the Environment in respect of the proposals for the private housing sector. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that assured agricultural occupancies, which the Department of the Environment intends to phase in as an alternative to the security offered by the Rent (Agriculture) Act, will mean that the farm worker will have less security, that he will be subject to market rents and that his family will have no statutory right to remain in their cottage? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this scandalous proposal is wanted by neither the National Farmers Union nor the National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers? Will the hon. Gentleman use his powers as an Agriculture Minister to resist that proposal?
§ Mr. Thompson
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has taken the unions under his wing. I discussed this matter when I met members of the union in Yorkshire. I am sure that what the hon. Gentleman has told me will be expanded upon on 18 November when his colleagues see me.
§ Mr. Hunter
I hope that great caution will be exercised in dealing with the poultry industry storm damage claims which are likely to reach my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Minister. Surely responsible farmers will have been adequately insured. Farmers were not the only ones to have suffered from the storm. Surely they should not receive preferential treatment.
§ Mr. Thompson
I am sure that my hon. Friend's points will be echoed repeatedly this afternoon and in the weeks to come. I agree with the gist of his comments.
§ Mr. Haynes
Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that there is poultry farming in my constituency? I want to know what is going on in his Department. Apparently it has been stated that finance for research establishments will be cut. There is one such establishment in Nottinghamshire which helps the poultry industry in my constituency. I want to know what is happening in respect of the reduction in employment in poultry farming in my constituency and others.
§ Mr. Thompson
I detect a note of concern in the hon. Gentleman's question. I should be delighted if he would talk to me in the Ministry, when we can discuss the whole aspect.