To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his policy towards the ceiling on headage payments as proposed in the European Commission's review of the sheepmeat regime.
I am opposed to the proposal to limit ewe premium payments to the first 500 ewes in each lowland flock and first 1,000 ewes in each LFA flock.
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the effect in Britain's less-favoured areas of the European Commission's proposals for the sheepmeat regime.
The proposal to phase out the variable premium would remove the assurance of the guide price for those LFA producers who sell finished lambs and it would also affect the price they receive for stores. But the annual ewe premium would be set at a higher level so increasing its benefit to LFA producers; and clawback on exports would end so enabling the industry as a whole to benefit increasingly from the export market which already takes 20 per cent. of our output. The proposal to limit ewe premium to the first 1,000 ewes in each flock in the LFAs would have an adverse impact on larger sheep flocks.
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on British sheepmeat exports.
Our sheepmeat exports are encouragingly strong. Exports in 1986 amounted to some 72,000 tonnes, valued at £133 million and accounting for over 20 per cent. of home production. A further increase is forecast for 1987.
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the sheepmeat regime proposals.
I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave today to the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong).