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Baroness Byford: My Lords, we feel that the Government have been somewhat dilatory in this area and so we welcome the announcements made by the Minister today. Four issues follow on from the noble Baroness's Question: first, the 2 million light lambs flooding into our market which cannot be exported; secondly, the store lambs, which the Minister may wish to consider; thirdly, the cull ewes; and, fourthly, the sheep that would normally come down to the lowland for the winter. Can the Minister enlarge upon these very urgent matters because time is not on the Government's side?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, clearly the timescale is acute. However, we need to get European clearance on a number of issues we have been discussing with farmers and others. Light lamb is the most acute problem as almost all of it goes for export, and no export market is likely to be there in the autumn. That is where the various disposal schemes come into play. As to store lambs and cull ewes, the adaptation of the welfare disposal scheme is appropriate. That is a matter that we are also discussing with the industry and the Commission.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, will the Minister give the House, and the farmers, a general assurance that the 2 million lambs that are to be slaughtered will not go to waste, and that the Government will make an all-out effort for a marketing campaign? We welcome the fact that the department is looking into the possibilities of cold storage. However, does the Minister accept that the processing of light lamb in particular will present difficulty? It will not be economic, as lamb will be flooding the market. Do the Government have a plan to deal with the processing of lambs? Do they intend to subsidise them? And are they satisfied that the capacity exists to deal with such large numbers?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, with reference to the various potential schemes, it is clear that there is a surplus of lamb. We export 30 per cent across the board and virtually all light lamb. There is a potential market for some light lamb, but it is relatively small compared with the total amount that is likely to come on to the market. I welcome particularly the announcement by Tesco--if I am not advertising too much--that it is promoting new cuts of light lamb. Other supermarkets have discussed similar promotional campaigns with the Meat and Livestock Commission. But we should not deceive ourselves. There may be significant take-up of those promotions, but it will not represent a significant proportion of the total number of lambs. We shall therefore need to deal with the disposal of some of the surplus, particularly in the light lamb sector. I cannot, therefore, give the blanket assurance that the noble Baroness seeks.
Lord Elis-Thomas: My Lords, will the Minister continue to hold urgent discussions with his colleagues, the agriculture Ministers in the devolved administrations, to ensure that the interests of areas of the United Kingdom such as the one in which I live--which is dependent on the livestock industry as its only source of income--are fully represented to the European Commission?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, the situation in Wales--the main producer of light lamb--is particularly acute. I assure the noble Lord that we are in constant contact with the Ministers for the devolved administrations. Indeed, Carwyn Jones was here for a meeting with myself and other Ministers only last night.
The Duke of Montrose: My Lords, I declare an interest as someone who receives support as a hill farmer. The Minister is no doubt aware that, even if he manages to get the market sales going, the 21-day restriction will cause immense upset in the normal marketing pattern, particularly for hill farmers. Unless some new regulation is introduced, most of the trade will probably take place by private bargain. In that case, the traceability will have to be through the system that was introduced following the outbreak of BSE. The one weakness in the system is that at present it is not properly policed. Will the Government not agree that the proper implenentation of this policy is the most practical system for the future?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, taking into account the situation that will arise in the autumn, it is clear that although there may be some relaxation in disease-free counties, in general, movements will be under licence and under control. That raises questions of the proper administration of the restrictions. In the long run, we shall have to take a decision on the long-term 21-day standstill, but the restriction will continue in the autumn. I hope that we can address the administrative problems referred to by the noble Duke.
Baroness Williams of Crosby asked Her Majesty's Government:
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): My Lords, the G8 Summit will focus on managing globalisation so that poor countries share in its benefits, thereby reducing inequalities. We shall work with our G8 partners to launch a new trade round and improve market access; to establish a global health fund to help to tackle HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis; to strengthen the international financial system; and to push forward on debt relief, under which 23 countries have now received 53 billion dollars in relief.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that constructive Answer. However, does she accept that sealing off protest trains cannot seal off a great sense of indignation that arises from the fact that 7.2 million dollar millionaires in this world own and control one-third of the entire world's resources? Can Her Majesty's Government express a view so far on Mr Bush's new initiative regarding grants instead of loans from the World Bank? Also, will the Tobin tax will be considered by the G8 countries?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I cannot at this stage say anything about the two specific points raised by the noble Baroness. I shall reply to her in writing once we have a clearer view on them.
This weekend's G8 Summit will prioritise issues relating to development and poverty reduction. The fact that the leaders of the G8 countries are to spend a considerable amount of time talking about questions of inequality is something that we in the development community take extremely seriously.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, does the Minister accept, as the evidence suggests, that the globalisation of finance and trade, far from worsening inequalities, is actually narrowing inequalities in some areas and can bring vast benefits to many of the poorest people in the world? Does she agree that that message should be strongly conveyed to the rabble and the well-organised mob converging on Genoa this weekend? Should it not be explained to them that their protests are aimed in exactly the wrong direction?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, we must accept that there is a right to peaceful protest. What we do not accept is the violence that has marred a number of summits. As regards the noble Lord's comments about finance and trade, we made clear in our globalisation White Paper at the end of last year that we saw
Viscount Waverley: My Lords, more specifically, is it government policy to retain the quota system for as long as it takes to ensure a level playing field?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, the Government have worked long and hard to promote access in terms of trade. The noble Viscount will be aware of the European Union's Everything But Arms initiative, which gives access to least developed countries. We have been working hard to ensure that the next trade round at Doha is seen as a developing round.
Lord Razzall: My Lords, does the Minister accept the analysis in the Economist magazine last month that global inequalities are widening rather than narrowing?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, this is a complex question and one that we have been examining. In some areas of the world inequality is widening; in others it is narrowing. We seek to learn lessons from those countries where inequality is lessening and to apply them to such areas as sub-Saharan Africa in order to improve matters and ensure that such countries are able to meet international development targets, and to work towards narrowing income inequality.
The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, does the Minister accept that many of those who voted to re-elect this Government were in favour of a much enhanced aid programme, including the completion of the heavily indebted poor country initiative? Will the Minister confirm that at the summit in Genoa a genuine lead will be taken by the United Kingdom on the issue of debt relief in particular?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, the noble Earl is aware of the lead that we have already taken with respect to the HIPC initiative. Twenty-three countries have qualified. We are concerned that a number of the countries that could qualify are mired in conflict and we are working hard with the World Bank and the IMF to see what we can do in terms of the initiative as it currently stands to take on board the additional fact of conflict. We see our role as being to stay with the initiative as it currently stands but to examine why it is that some countries have been unable to qualify because of the particular circumstances affecting them.
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