HC Deb 24 June 2004 vol 422 c1435
2. Mr. David Cameron (Witney) (Con)

What steps she has taken to urge the EU to permit the import of queen bees from Hawaii; and if she will make a statement. [180205]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw)

We have approached the European Commission on a number of occasions about the import of queen bees from Hawaii. The trade will be able to resume when the United States can match European standards for bee health controls. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree that we must do all we can to protect our bees from foreign pests and diseases, such as the small hive beetle and American foul brood.

Mr. Cameron

Does the Minister share the frustration of my bee-keeping constituent, Mr. Burrows, who wants to import queen bees from Hawaii, as he has done before? Is the Minister aware that the Department has said that Hawaii has a high bee health status? While I am sure he would welcome a fact-finding mission to Hawaii, and I would gladly go with him, will he consult his wall map and see that Hawaii is 1,625 miles from mainland USA? So will he get down to Brussels and tell officials to amend their rules, which are stopping my constituent producing the best honey?

Mr. Bradshaw

I am aware that Hawaii is a very long way away from mainland USA, but I am afraid that Hawaii must be treated as territorially part of the USA for this purpose. I point out to the hon. Gentleman's constituent that there are alternative sources for queen bees: Argentina, New Zealand and Australia, and I understand that Slovenia and Greece, both in the European Union, also produce very fine queens.

Ann Winterton (Congleton) (Con)

While the British pig industry has managed to contain the fall in production, which has levelled out at 500,000 tonnes—

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