HL Deb 23 July 1973 vol 344 cc1611-3

6.44 p.m.

THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY or STATE, NORTHERN IRELAND OFFICE (LORD BOLSTEAD) rose to move, That the Draft Pig Production Development (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 1973, laid before the House on July 11, 1973, be approved. The noble Lord said: the Pig Production Development Act (Northern Ireland) 1964 established the Pig Production Development Committee whose functions are to provide services and facilities intended to benefit pig producers, to make pig production more profitable and to encourage the genetic improvement of pigs in Northern Ireland. The members of the Committee are appointed by the Minister and are representative of the various agriculture interests.

The expenditure of the Committee is met from the Pig Production Development Fund established under Section 3 of the Act. The Committee makes payments to the owners of nucleus breeding herds to encourage them to test pigs at the pig testing station and to keep farm records; it provides two-thirds of the capital costs of the testing station and 100 per cent. of the running costs; it pays incentives to encourage the dissemination of high-quality breeding stock; and it is underwriting a pig artificial insemination service for a 2-year trial period. The only source of income of the Fund is the levy on each pig sold to the Pigs Marketing Board. At present this levy is fixed at 5p per pig, the maximum level permitted under Section 4 of the Act. The income provided by this levy is insufficient to allow the Committee to meet its present commitments and proceed with its plans, which include the building of an extension to the Northern Ireland Pig Testing Station.

This Order amends the Act to allow a levy of up to 20p per pig to be collected. However, the intention in the first instance is to raise the levy to 10p only The Ulster Farmers' Union and the Pigs Marketing Board are content that the Act should be amended in this way and that the levy should be raised from 5p to 10p per pig, although the Order is an enabling one for a larger rise later if necessary. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Draft Pig Production Development (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 1973, laid before the House on July 11, 1973, be approved.— (Lord Belstead.)


My Lords, the House will welcome the very clear statement made by the noble Lord, Lord Belstead. The uses to which this levy are to be put are doubtless very admirable. Nevertheless, I think note ought to be taken that it is a pretty tremendous increase from 5p to 20p—something of the order of 400 per cent. One can only hope that the results of the services will justify the increased expenditure. I did take note of the explanation given by the noble Lord and of the care that would be taken with regard to the increase. Nevertheless, the Order does permit an increase of the size I have indicated, and I think it is proper that we should take due note of that fact.