HC Deb 25 May 1989 vol 153 c1110
8. Mr. Jim Marshall

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for how long he expects the lamb variable premium to continue.

Mr. Donald Thompson

There are complex negotiations ahead. We must ensure that the future regime, whether through variable premiums or some other means, enables our industry, including that in Northern Ireland to prosper and gain full advantage from the excellent structure, efficiency and expertise that it already has.

Mr. Marshall

In the light of the need to continue to reduce consumption of animal fats, does the Minister accept that any scheme succeeding the present premium should also encourage and favour the production of lean meat?

Mr. Thompson

Yes, in fact we have just reduced the maximum weight payable on fat lambs from 26.5 kg to 21 kg, which does exactly what the hon. Gentleman has requested.

Rev. Ian Paisley

As the Minister mentioned Northern Ireland in his answer, what does he see as being the future of the sheepmeat regime as we move towards 1992?

Mr. Thompson

I see the sheepmeat regime, especially that in Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, moving forward with greater exports and greater efficiency. We have already exported 23,572 tonnes of sheep and mutton this year and we hope that that will continue.

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