HC Deb 24 January 1991 vol 184 cc439-40
1. Mr. Thurnham

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what he is doing to encourage the production of regional food specialities; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. David Curry)

Grant aid has been available since March 1987 to encourage the formation of groups marketing speciality and regional foods.

Mr. Thurnham

When my hon. Friend next meets the bureaucrats in Brussels will he tell them how pleased we were when our hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food opened the national black pudding competition in Bolton? Will he tell them also that we wish to encourage such regional delicacies rather than have all our food homogenised?

Mr. Curry

I shall certainly pass on that message. I happen to know that one can get extremely good black pudding in Brussels, with apple sauce, its preferred accompaniment. We certainly wish to promote our regional foods—they are just as good as anybody else's. We will be on the watch to ensure that recipe law in Brussels does not produce precisely the protectionism to which my hon. Friend refers.

Mr. Hunter

Despite the desirability of regional food specialities, surely the problem lies not so much in production but in the absence of profitability—something which applies not only to regional foods? Surely that is the matter which should be addressed.

Mr. Curry

I am not sure whether it is up to the Government to address the profitability of certain items. The Curry household purchases a considerable number of speciality foods and the Minister with responsibility for the housekeeping money makes adequate provision for the speciality foods that his wife persists in buying—that is, a Frenchwoman buying English speciality foods.