HC Deb 19 December 1991 vol 201 c446
13. Mr. Allen McKay

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he last met the National Farmers Union to discuss the MacSharry proposals for the reform of the common agricultural policy.

Mr. Gummer

I meet representatives of the National Farmers Union regularly to discuss a range of agricultural issues.

Mr. McKay

Does the Minister appreciate that his tenure of office as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is regarded by farmers as disastrous? Does he agree with his Parliamentary Secretary, the hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean), who said: Never have I known a time when farmers were more fearful of the future, and never has that fear been more justified"?

Mr. Gummer

In referring to the MacSharry proposals, my hon. Friend said what was true. I am happy to say that the farmers of the United Kingdom believe in this ministerial team and in the Government, who are fighting for them against the proposals of the European Community. They know that the Labour party, led by the right hon. Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock), would lie down and be run over by anything that the Community proposed.

Mr. Bill Walker

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the hill farmers and raspberry farmers in Tayside look on him and his team as the best champions of their interests? They regard the problems as being a result of the structure of the common agricultural policy. How wise we were not to allow the Europeans to extend their competence to other areas. Not only our farmers but everyone else would suffer if we followed the views expressed yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Gummer

My hon. Friend is right. The European Community's future is best served by those who believe in Europe and in putting forward strongly the position of their countrymen, farmers and those who have interests in the United Kingdom. We must ensure that that balance exists. It was upheld by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister at Maastricht, but it would have been undermined if the Leader of the Opposition had had anything to do with governing the country.