HC Deb 20 October 1994 vol 248 cc415-6
8. Mr. Colin Shepherd

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent discussions he has had with the EU Agriculture Commissioner in respect of beef.

Mr. Waldegrave

I have already had three meetings with Commissioner Steichen, the first one on 5 September at my request, at which those issues were raised.

Mr. Shepherd

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the beef sector is very important to the farmers of Herefordshire and the marches? What progress has my right hon. Friend been able to make towards relaxation of the rules on trade which were imposed by the European Commission, particularly as they relate to the younger animal?

Mr. Waldegrave

My hon. Friend makes a very fair point. With the shape of the BSE epidemic now moving in the way in which it is, it would be fair to take action in relation to young animals. I have raised that matter with the Commissioner and I have some hopes of progress. I will report to my hon. Friend and to the House more widely on how the negotiations go.

Mr. Tony Banks

I add my welcome to the Minister. How appropriate it is to have a Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with his own herd of mad cows. Can he give an assurance that he has not been giving any of his home-made beef pies to Baroness Thatcher recently?

Mr. Waldegrave

Whether or not I have a herd of mad cows, that is much happier than being a Leader of the Opposition with a herd of mad Back Benchers behind me.

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