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Cattle Prices

Volume 884: debated on Thursday 23 January 1975

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the effect that the removal of the ban on the export of live animals would have on the average market price received by producers for cattle in the United Kingdom.

No such estimate has been possible. Because there has been no trade in live cattle from this country since July 1973 it is difficult to judge the potential export demand for cattle now, especially as the supply situation in the Community and world markets has changed considerably during the last 18 months.

I thank the Minister for his reply. Does he accept that the National Farmers' Union and the British livestock industry are most grateful to him and to his right hon. Friend for accepting the O'Brien recommendations and to Parliament for lifting the ban on the export of live animals? Does he agree that there is increasing concern about the amount of payments due on any animals that are exported. For instance, on a beast of 10 cwt. going from the United Kingdom to Holland the amount due could be as much as £80.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his compliments, which are always welcome from the Opposition benches. The NFU amongst others is aware that live cattle face a 9·6 per cent. ad valorem duty on imports into the EEC countries. There are transitional and monetary compensatory charges and the precise level varies, as the hon. Gentleman suggests, according to destination and fluctuations in currency ex- change rates. It may be necessary to levy an export charge on cattle corresponding with the current charge on exports of beef arising from the variable premium arrangements. My right hon. Friend will keep these matters under review.