HC Deb 18 July 1991 vol 195 c480
1. Sir Michael McNair-Wilson

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which traditional British foods are affected by EC directives.

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

I have always argued very firmly in Brussels against burdening the food industry with unnecessary bureaucratic rules.

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson

Will my hon. Friend resist any further regulations from the Community that might interfere with the traditional names of favourite English foods? May we have an assurance that well-known English foods, using their generic names, such as Cheddar cheese, York ham or Devon or Cornish cream will not be brought within the regulations and that he will resist any attempt to change those names? Will he also defend the British kipper from any suggestion that the wisest cure constitutes a health risk?

Mr. Curry

The answer to the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question is that at the meeting of the Agriculture Council in Luxembourg last month, when I represented the United Kingdom, I gave a considerable peroration on precisely that subject. It is wholly unnecessary and perfectly silly that generic names should be included in any bureaucratic regulations. There are a very limited number of cases in which that sort of special protection could be afforded any sort of justice. We shall certainly resist that.

As for the kipper, I share my hon. Friend's predilection for that delicacy. I see no reason why any food should be interfered with, other than on health grounds, and there are no health grounds whatever to get in the way of the good old British kipper.

Mr. Pike

Does the Minister agree that it is daft that we should be spending so much time in Europe discussing, for example whether an Eccles cake has to come from Eccles? Does he further agree that it would be damaging if the directive were approved in its present form because it would restrict innovation and prevent the trade in, and export of, good British food? We should be making sure that consumers get what they want and at a good quality and that we are able to export good quality British food.

Mr. Curry


Mr. Cormack

Was my hon. Friend's peroration successful? If not, will he repeat it until it is?

Mr. Curry

The line-up comprises six states that prefer the original proposals and six states that support the alternatives that the United Kingdom has put forward. At present, it is a case of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object—we are part of the immovable object and we intend not to be moved on the subject.