§ 15. Mr. Gourlay
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many clean home-bred and Irish cattle have been exported to Europe since 1st March, 1964, to the latest available date.
§ Mr. Gourlay
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this is a substantial increase over the two months January and February, during which period about 740 cattle were exported, and in respect of which about £10,000 in subsidies had been paid, at a time when there was a great shortage of beef in Scotland, thus putting up prices to the housewives? Does not he think that it is scandalous for farmers to receive subsidies while meat contractors are permitted at the same time to export cattle? Does he intend to take steps to stop this practice?
§ Mr. Noble
I do not agree with him that this sort of export—although it has risen considerably since I last answered a Question by him on the subject—has a material effect on prices. It is only 1.5 per cent. of the total supplies. As he may realise, it is very difficult to blame the farmers for this, because the meat passes from one hand to another and the person who exports it may be very far removed from the farmer.
§ Mr. Clark Hutchison
Will my right hon. Friend support the Bill, which is being brought in by my hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn (Mr. Bullard), to prevent the export of cattle for slaughter? I strongly support the Bill.
§ Mr. Gourlay
Surely it is a matter of principle and not of degree. Is it not wrong that the British taxpayer should subsidise beef which is exported so that people on the Continent may get cheaper beef? On this ground alone will he take steps to prevent the export of this cattle?
§ Sir J. Gilmour
Does my right hon. Friend agree that, with the shortage of world meat supplies, if we do not supply the meat somebody else will and that that will mean less meat coming into this country? Is not the hon. Member begging the question altogether?
§ Mr. Ross
When farmers are demanding that they should be given more specific shares in the home market, and when we are paying subsidies and production grants and the rest, surely the home consumer is entitled to have the advantage of the other side of the bargain and see that the home market is provided?