§ 34. Sir I. Fraser
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to state the Government's policy in respect of the importation of Argentine meat, setting its relative advantage against the disadvantage and loss occasioned by foot-and-mouth disease.
§ Mr. Godber
The Argentine provides about 15 per cent. of all our meat and about 20 per cent. of our beef. Apart from considerations of international trade, the loss of these supplies would create a serious shortage and would increase substantially the cost of meat to the consumer. The duty alone on this meat greatly exceeds the compensation payable in respect of outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease. My right hon. Friend is satisfied that the balance of advantage is 599 decisively in favour of allowing these imports to continue, while taking all practicable steps to minimize the risks of infection to our own livestock.
§ Sir I. Fraser
Will my hon. Friend ask the Minister and the Department to consider the obvious ideal of growing our own and to see whether, by mechanisation and fertilisation and any other means, including, if necessary, higher prices, it might not in the end pay this nation to grow a much larger amount of its own meat?
§ Mr. Godber
I sympathise with that, and we have stepped up production of meat in recent years. We are hoping to see it increased still more.