To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will give an estimate of the amount of venison sold in the United Kingdom.
No central records are kept. However, we estimate that about 2,300 tonnes of venison are produced annually in the United Kingdom of which about 1,700 tonnes are exported.
Does the Minister agree that although only small quantities of venison are consumed in Britain, large tracts of land are designated as deer forests? Does he also agree that these large tracts of land have a deleterious effect on tourism, because access to that land is restricted, especially during the stalking season? Therefore, will he consider reducing the amount of land designated as deer forests and restricting the extent of the stalking season?
Will the Minister reconsider the answer that he has just given to my hon. Friend? Does he not recognise that as venison is a low-cholesterol red meat there would be considerable advantage to public health if his Department encouraged its production and consumption? Can he tell the House whether his Department has considered introducing support mechanisms such as those for sheep and beef production?
The first supplementary question went entirely contrary to that and suggested cutting down on the amount of venison that is available. Venison is a useful and low-cholesterol meat. A wide range of grants are available under the agricultural improvement scheme for approved investments in deer enterprises. Grants are also available for certain environmentally beneficial works. Leaflets setting out the eligibility for these grants are available from the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service.