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Food And Drink Manufacturing Industries

Volume 932: debated on Thursday 19 May 1977

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied with the means of representation to the EEC Commission available to the food manufacturing industry.

Yes, Sir. The United Kingdom's Food and Drink Industries Council plays an active part in the Commission for the Food and Drink Manufacturing Industries, which is the trade body that the EEC Commission consults on matters of interest to these industries.

Yes, but does the Parliamentary Secretary realise that some of us think that he does not really understand the very grave difficulties of some of the food manufacturers, particularly concerning pigmeat, sausages and bacon? Will he see that far better representation is made on their behalf in Europe on these matters as we do not want to see the destruction of that very big and important industry?

I agree that it is a very big and important industry and contributes in a very major way to the United Kingdom balance of payments. With regard to pigmeat, the hon. Gentleman will recognise that the Government are doing everything they possibly can in this connection. We hope that the draft regulations may form a basis for solving that particular problem.

Is my hon. Friend aware that, unlike Opposition Members, we believe that he understands the problems of the food manufacturing industry, and we would like to see rather more discussion openly of the purely negative taxes which are consistently being applied by the EEC to all forms of food manufacturing, whether it be isoglucose or any other form of manufactured food? My hon. Friend is protecting the interests of the consumer. Will he explain to Opposition Members that it is part of their task to support him in this?

My hon. Friend is on a fair point. As for the proposed isoglucose levy—and I wish to point out that we were the only member State which pressed this—although the Government were successful in reducing the maximum levy to 50 per cent., we are still opposed in principle to any isoglucose levy.