§ 1. Mr. Marten
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what would be the estimated effect upon the prices received by British farmers for livestock if Great Britain were to join the Common Market in existing conditions.
§ The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Fred Peart)
It is not possible to give precise estimates. Assuming no change in the present E.E.C. arrangements, producer prices for fat cattle, pigs and sheep in the United Kingdom may well be higher than now. The profitability of livestock production would also be affected by the increased prices of animal feeding stuffs resulting from the Community's high cereals prices.
§ Mr. Marten
Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that, if the Government go ahead with their negotiations, the profit margins for livestock producers will at least be maintained at their present level?
§ Mr. Peart
The hon. Gentleman appreciates that we are now conducting a probe into the matter; negotiations have not taken place. I recognise that prices for fatstock could be misleading. As the hon. Gentleman has said, profitability is the important thing, which is what concerns producers, and that would be affected by the cost of feed.
§ Mr. Biffen
When making these assessments, does the Minister assume that Denmark also will become a member of the Common Market should Britain be successful?
§ 14. Mr. Jopling
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what 587 active studies he is making on the implications to the British agricultural industry of joining the European Economic Community.
§ Mr. Jopling
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his reply is most disappointing? If his Department is studying the subject, can he explain the actions of his Parliamentary Private Secretary, sitting behind him, who, in this House and in broadcasts, seems to be leading a campaign to denigrate Britain's entry into the E.E.C.?
§ Mr. Peart
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Before I answer that supplementary question, may I ask you whether it is not rather discourteous of the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. Jopling) to attack a Parliamentary Private Secretary who traditionally has not the right to speak on matters affecting his Minister's Department? Is it not a disgraceful thing for the hon. Member to have done?
§ Mr. Jopling
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I understand that the appointment of a Parliamentary Private Secretary is the gift of the Minister, and I imagine that he is responsible to the Minister.
§ Mr. Manuel
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Many of us take attacks of this kind very seriously. Did the hon. Member for Westmorland give notice to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Private Secretary that he intended to make these slighting remarks?
§ Mr. Peart
May I answer the supplementary question put to me by the hon. Member for Westmorland? He said that my reply was disappointing, but even in Europe the situation changes from week to week in relation to the Common Market agricultural policy and regulations, and, therefore, it is right to have this continuous study.
§ 22. Mr. Newens
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the implications of joining the European Common Market for horticulture in the Lea Valley.
§ Mr. Peart
Assuming no change in the present E.E.C. arrangements, our tariffs on imports from the rest of the enlarged Community would in due course be abolished, our imports from non-members would bear the common external tariff, and our domestic production of fruit and vegetables would be subject to the Community's regulations providing for common standards of quality, support-buying for some commodities and aid for setting up growers' co-operatives.
§ Mr. Newens
Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that the interests of the Lea Valley horticultural industry will be fully borne in mind in any discussions which take place on the detailed terms of entry? Will he press for the provision of transitional period during which the industry may adapt itself to any new conditions if the decision to enter the Common Market is eventually taken?
§ Mr. Peart
We are not engaged on negotiations now. The hon. Member should not be too hypothetical on this matter. We are conducting a probe. The horticultural industry could be seriously hit. [Laughter.] I would have thought that hon. Members who jeer now would bear in mind that this might have serious consequences for many honourable people. For that reason we are bearing in mind all the problems.
§ Mr. John Wells
When he is looking at the details of this, will the right hon. Gentleman particularly bear in mind the apple growing section of the horticultural industry? When it comes to negotiations about apple growing, will he take into account the particular difficulty of Cox's Orange as an apple in the Common Market grading system?
§ 34. Mr. Brewis
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will 589 give an estimate of the profitability of barley growing if Great Britain were immediately to join the Common Market.
This would depend on the arrangements agreed for barley in an enlarged Community. Assuming no change in the present E.E.C. arrangements, barley growing in this country would be substantially more profitable than now. It is not possible to give a precise estimate, but some very broad indication of the effect on profitability may be inferred from the fact that the Community's target price for 1967–68 is about a third higher than our present guaranteed price.
§ Mr. Brewis
Is the right hon. Gentleman looking into the effects that this will have upon the livestock rearing industry, and is he making inquiries which lead him to attempt to insulate the price of liquid milk from that in the Common Market?
Mr. J. T. Price
In the Answer that he has just given, my right hon. Friend has told the House that the price of barley on the Continent and in the Community is about one-third higher than in this country, and that therefore barley production here would be more costly to the consumer. Does this mean that joining the Common Market will put up the price of beer?