§ 3.13 p.m.
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are concerned about the profitability of pig production and the closure of several large pig processing plants in the United Kingdom, particularly in view of the expansion of the pig populations in Denmark and Holland.
The MINISTER of STATE, MINISTRY of AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES and FOOD (Earl Ferrers)
My Lords, the profitability of production and the closure of some processing plants in the United Kingdom, coupled with the expansion of the pig populations in other Member States of the Community, have been a cause for some concern in recent years. One of the Government's objectives is to ensure that United Kingdom pig producers and processors are able to compete on fairer terms with those in other countries. The Green Pound changes made earlier this year and the changes announced yesterday are a major step towards this objective.
My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. Is he aware that the last costing published by the Meat and Livestock Commission shows that all types of pig production are still running at a loss?
My Lords, my information is that although they have been running at a loss they have in fact now turned round and are becoming more profitable, and the figures which I have indicate that.
My Lords, in thanking my noble friend for that further answer, may I ask him whether the Government are still pressing for a change in the method of calculating the pig MCA's?
My Lords, we have always felt that the method of calculating the monetary compensation amounts is not very satisfactory, and we should wish to see an alteration; but the fact is that, in order to achieve the alteration, you must have the agreement of the other members of the Community. But we have been concerned to see that our producers can compete on fairer terms, and the way in which this is best done at 1365 the moment is by ensuring more strict parity with the Green Pound. I would remind my noble friend that in 1976 the Green Pound was out by no less than 45 per cent., that in January of this year it was out by 28 per cent., and that it is now out by 3.7 per cent. If I may give him this further bit of information which he may find helpful, the MCA on Danish bacon was £235 a tonne in March and with the alteration of the Green Pound it will be £35 a tonne as from this next week.