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Volume 175: debated on Thursday 28 June 1990

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what effect the EEC directive on minced meat will have on the future of the British sausage.

The Government will fight to ensure that future Community measures will have no adverse effect on the British sausage.

Does my hon. Friend agree that, as currently drafted, the EC proposals endanger the future of the British sausage after 1990? Does he agree that it is a safe, succulent, satisfying snack and with mash it is almost superlative? The British public enjoy £500 million worth of sausages each year. The proposals will do nothing to improve food hygiene and are likely to increase the cost of this most estimable product to the British consumer. If we have no objection to other countries' salami and bratwurst, why can they not leave our toad in the hole alone?

My hon. Friend has made a number of valid points. Many of us in the House have moved straight from the baby's bottle to the British banger. The proposed draft directives will have no effect on hygiene requirements for the existing British sausage. People in the House and outside who want to eat raw minced beef or steak tartare can choose to do so, but the millions of people in Britain who want to eat cooked British sausages do not need unnecessary EC rules.

Does the Minister accept that the logic of the rules may not be to improve hygiene, but to achieve unfair competition and commercial advantage at the expense of manufacturers in this country, which could lead to the loss of valuable jobs in many areas, including my constituency? Will the Minister ensure that he stands up and fights for the future of those jobs?

I will certainly do that. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will take to task the Opposition agriculture spokesman who said that he would refuse to eat British beef sausages, when there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. We all understand the necessity for tougher rules on minced beef which might be eaten raw, but there is no need for the rules about cooked sausages.