HC Deb 25 May 1989 vol 153 cc1113-4
12. Mr. Michael Brown

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will make a statement on the public's response to the Hyde park festival of food and farming.

Mr. MacGregor

The festival of food and farming was a great success. Attendance was about 1 million, and visitors clearly enjoyed themselves thoroughly and were impressed. Great credit is due to all concerned in the planning and execution of that most imaginative event.

Mr. Brown

I congratulate my right hon. Friend's Department on its work on the festival. Does my right hon. Friend intend to repeat the festival? In view of his question, I suggest that the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes) should be invited to open another festival.

Mr. MacGregor

A most distinguished guest opened the festival. As my hon. Friend knows, that guest could not have been more distinguished. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments. I fully recognise what is behind his question, which is the importance of getting over to the public at large, and particularly the urban population, the great contribution that the farming industry makes to our food and to the attractiveness of our countryside. The festival was a great success in that respect. It was the first major Hyde park festival for nearly 150 years. There are obvious difficulties in repeating it year by year. I have noted my hon. Friend's support for the idea of doing it again.

Mr. Alan W. Williams

Is it not the case that British food and farming has been rather soured by salmonella and listeria scares? Does the Minister agree that the British public want cleaner, healthier and pesticide-free food and a system of agriculture with a lower input of fertilisers and pesticides?

Mr. MacGregor

The British public quite rightly want an increasing range of high-quality, safe food. There will always be some problems throughout the world about dealing with safety, because salmonella and listeria are in the air that we breathe. As the hon. Gentleman will know, in the past few months we have taken a wide range of measures to deal with the new problem of one particular type of salmonella. The festival showed the very high quality of food that British farmers are producing, and the consumers' response was extremely good.

Mr. Paice

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the festival was a marvellous opportunity to celebrate the centenary of his Department and to recall the excellent work that his Department has done and is doing on behalf of the British consumer in its polices, which it is pursuing vigorously, for the reform of the CAP?

Mr. MacGregor

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for those remarks, and in particular for underlining the dual role which we have and which is correctly done in one Department—that of pursuing the best agricultural production that we can possibly have and ensuring that the consumer interest is completely taken into account.

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