asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the level of support for the British Wool Marketing Board wool prices for the coming year.
My right hon. Friend announced on 23 March that the guaranteed price for wool will remain at its present level of 115p per kilogram for the next marketing year.
In view of the importance of the wool clip to certain farmers, will my right hon. Friend keep a close watch on the market with a view to increasing prices as soon as the stabilisation principle permits?
As my hon. Friend acknowledges, there is the important question of stabilisation. That is the nature of the wool guarantee. The fact that the stabilisation fund is at present in considerable deficit is clearly a factor. My right hon. Friend and I met the chairman of the Wool Marketing Board this week. We discussed the situation very fully with him and shall continue to do so.
As the Scotch blackface is the most numerous breed of sheep in Britain, will my right hon. Friend use his good offices in every possible way to promote the wool of this hardy hill breed, especially in the Italian mattress trade?
I am sure that the Wool Marketing Board will note what has been said and will ensure that the interests of the Scotch blackface breed are fully and properly taken into account.