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Volume 927: debated on Monday 7 March 1977

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has held further discussions with the EEC Commission on the problems of the pig industry; and if he will make a statement.

I reported to the House on 7th February that the Commission had opened the procedure provided for in Articule 93(2) of the Treaty of Rome in respect of the temporary pig subsidy which I announced on 20th January. The Commission completed that procedure and on 17th February issued its decision that the aid should be terminated immediately. I have since met the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Gundelach, to discuss the situation. I told him that the Government had never regarded national aids in this context as a solution to what is a Community problem and that we intend to end the subsidy as soon as practicable. For his part, Mr. Gundelach advised me that the Commission would need to consider referring the question of legality of the subsidy to the European Court but reaffirmed the Commissions intention t do its utmost to find a permanent solution to the problems in the pigmeat sector.