HC Deb 08 June 1995 vol 261 cc313-4
11. Mr. Wilkinson

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will urge at the next European Council of Ministers for the termination of European Union moneys for the rearing of bulls for bull fighting. [25823]

Mr. Jack

The agenda for the next Agriculture Council does not include that item for discussion.

Mr. Wilkinson

I am hardly surprised. Waiting for an end to the European subsidy to the beef special premium is about as fruitful as waiting for the cows to come home. Would it not be much better for the Government unilaterally to stop subsidising the rearing of bulls for execution in the bull rings of Pamplona and Aragon? The qualities of these animals are hardly culinary; I would have thought that their qualities are much more combative.

Mr. Jack

I share my hon. Friend's concern about the repugnant practice of bull fighting. He must take into account, however, the fact that British specialist beef producers gain, to the tune of about £119 million, from the scheme. In the way in which the scheme is constructed, it would not be possible unilaterally to implement my hon.

Friend's suggestion. We shall be asking the Commission, in appraising the effectiveness of the beef special premium scheme, to re-examine the matter.

Mr. Tony Banks

If the Minister of State shares the concern of his hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson), why does he not raise the issue directly? If he did that, we would know that he is serious in what he says. We shall judge Ministers by their actions and not their words. It is appalling that we should be subsidising bull fighting. It is a barbaric activity. Will the hon. Gentleman join me in encouraging British tourists who go to Spain to stay away from bull fighting?

Mr. Jack

The hon. Gentleman makes his own point. Those considering holidaying in Spain—perhaps even Opposition Members—will listen to what he has to say.

We have already had one go in attacking the practice by reducing the overall level of expenditure on the scheme. We have made it clear to the Commission that we would welcome its positive proposals on the issue. As I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood, we shall urge the Commission to appraise the worthwhileness of the beef special premium scheme in this context.