Mr. Wm. Ross
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) if, in the light of the changed conditions due to the removal of the monetary compensatory amount payments on cattle moving between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, he will now make a payment equal to the current amounts under the Meat Industry Employment Scheme on live cattle exported to Great Britain from Northern Ireland;
(2) if he will now raise the Meat Industry Employment Scheme payments to the same level as the monetary compensation amounts available on cattle exported from the Irish Republic to Great Britain, as monetary compensatory 357W amounts have been abolished on cattle moving between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic;
(3) in the light of the changed conditions due to the removal of monetary compensatory amounts in the cattle trade between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, if he will remove at once the remainder of the domiciliary period on cattle imported into Northern Ireland from the Irish Republic before the removal of the monetary compensatory amount payments on such cattle, so that they will stand on an equal footing for Meat Industry Employment Scheme payments with cattle imported after 14th June 1977.
§ Mr. Dunn
The suspension of MCAs on cross-border trade in live cattle between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic came into effect on Wednesday 15th June. It is too soon to assess fully the effects of this change.
The primary objective of the Meat Industry Employment Scheme is to enable the Northern Ireland meat industry to compete for livestock and thus to protect employment within Northern Ireland. There is no justification therefore for extending the arrangements to include cattle shipped live to Great Britain.
The current rate of payment under the Meat Industry Employment Scheme for cattle was announced on 28th April for the period ending 30th June. In reviewing the rate thereafter I will take into account all relevant factors including the suspension of MCAs on live cattle.
Animals imported into Northern Ireland before 15th June cannot qualify for payments under the Meat Industry Employment Scheme until they have been 20 weeks in Northern Ireland, but they can now freely be marketed in the Irish Republic; however, these animals did qualify for an MCA payment on entry whereas those entering after 15th June do not.
I am aware of the uncertainty in the meat industry following the suspension of the MCAs on cross-border trade in live cattle. I will continue therefore to keep the whole situation under close scrutiny.