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Volume 940: debated on Thursday 1 December 1977

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent representations he has received on behalf of the British pigmeat industry; and what reply he has given to such representations.

There have been continuing discussions with the National Farmers Union in the context of the annual review. I have met representatives of the Bacon and Meat Manufacturers Association and have urged them to support me in my representations to the Commission on the unfair way monetary compensatory amounts are calculated in this sector.

Is the Minister aware that bacon curers are currently losing about £4 per bacon pig cured and that that is not in anyone's interest, least of all the long-term interest of the British housewife?

I do not know the exact figure, but the economic position of bacon curers is bad. I should not have thought that it was in the interests of the economics of the country as a whole, either, and that is all the more reason why we should press on with trying to obtain a change in the calculation of the MCAs. As I said in answer to an earlier question, we now have the French and the Italians with us on that matter.

As the contraction of the meat manufacturing and bacon curing industries will cause widespread unemployment in those industries, will my right hon. Friend agree to co-ordinate the opposition in the EEC to the present system of MCAs? I understand that both France and Italy are in a position similar to ours. Will he therefore try to coordinate this opposition to force the Common Market Ministers, at their December meeting, to alter the MCA set-up?

The question will certainly come up at the December meeting. The House need have no fear of that at all. It is right that not only the Government but the industry should now be coordinating their efforts.