HC Deb 05 December 1974 vol 882 cc542-3W
19. Mr. Hoyle

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what provision he has made for extra storage facilities if the intervention purchase of beef leads to a demand that exceeds normal storage capacity.

Mr. Bishop

As my right hon. Friend said on 21st November—[Vol. 881, c. 1535]—there is no likelihood of a "beef mountain" being accumulated in the United Kingdom. Under the conditions negotiated in Brussels on 18th-19th November support buying at relatively low prices is only supplementary to the other measures taken to provide a guarantee to producers. The Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce is in continual consultation with the trade interests concerned about availability of storage and other necessary facilities.

57. Mrs. Chalker

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how his scheme of 21st October for the subsidising of the private storage of beef will be affected by his proposals for a return to an intervention system as announced on 21st November.

Mr. Bishop

The two schemes are separate and will remain in operation side by side. The use that is made of either will depend on the commercial judgment of the meat trade and the movement of market prices.

Mr. Pym

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will explain how the wholesale intervention measures for beef announced on 31st October will help producers; what is to happen to the beef so stored after the six-month period; and how these measures are affected by the negotiations in the European Council of Ministers on the 18th-19th November.

Mr. Peart

The announcement of 31st October referred to the scheme for aids to provide storage of beef. This provides for meat traders to continue to store meat for periods of from four to six months. The purpose is to relieve the current pressure of supplies and thus strengthen market prices, in the expectation that the supply situation will be easier by the time the meat comes out of store. Keeping some beef on the hook rather than the hoof should also help relieve the demands on fodder supplies.

Beef stored under these arrangements remains in private ownership. Its disposal at the end of the storage period will be a matter for commercial judgment. This scheme is not affected by the arrangements agreed at the Council of Ministers' meeting on 18th-19th November.