HC Deb 01 April 1976 vol 908 cc566-7W
Mr. Fitt

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will make a statement about the operation of beef support arrangements in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Peart

I have decided on a set of measures to meet current problems arising in the beef market in Northern Ireland. These are:

  1. (a) from Monday 12th April Northern Ireland producers will receive at least the same premium as in Great Britain. This will immediately reduce the effective buying in price for beef offered to intervention in Northern Ireland;
  2. (b) arrangements are being made to confine certification to deadweight sales and to eligible live beef animals 567 exported to Great Britain: this will operate from Monday 12th April; and
  3. (c) payments under the Meat Industry Employment Scheme, which came into operation on 5th January 1976 to continue until 10th July 1976, are intended to offset the effect at the border of the differences between the United Kingdom and Irish Republic green pounds. The rate of payment since January has been 0.65p per lb. To take account of the increased gap between the two green pounds since 15th March the payment is being increased to l.55p per lb.

This is a package of linked measures directed to securing a fair balance between the interests of producers, the meat trade and the consumers in Northern Ireland and Great Britain and to ensure the effective control of premiums and intervention under Community provisions. These measures should help to reduce the impact of intervention in Northern Ireland and the evasion of Community controls on trade across the Border. Beef markets are currently firm throughout the United Kingdom. Given the premium available, in my view significant intervention is neither appropriate nor necessary at the present time, and I am keeping the situation under review throughout the United Kingdom.

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