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Cattle And Sheep

Volume 884: debated on Thursday 23 January 1975

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the numbers of cattle and sheep in Great Britain at the last available date; and what were the numbers at the same period two years and four years ago.

The number of cattle and calves in Great Britain in June 1974, the latest date for which full information is available, was 13,607,000; in June 1972, 12,040,000; and in June 1970, 11,261,000. The number of sheep and lambs in June 1974 was 27,703,000; in June 1972, 25,873,000; and in June 1970, 25,114,000.

I am grateful for that interesting information. Would my hon. Friend care to comment on the recently-expressed suspicions that the remarkable and sustained improvement in livestock quality over recent decades has not been maintained in the past two or three years?

Yes, Sir. We are aware of this and are taking the necessary steps to reverse the trend.

Will the Minister bear in mind that there will be a reduction in sheep and beef production if the Chancellor's tax proposals are continued and that agriculture will go into reverse? What representations is the Minister of Agriculture making to the Chancellor, who is destroying British agriculture in this way?

The matters that the hon. Gentleman has raised are matters for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor.

Does the Minister agree that until such time as we have a meat marketing board we shall have a succession of slumps and booms in the beef production industry?

That is the basis for another question. It is a matter for the industry as well as for us.