HC Deb 02 July 1969 vol 786 cc399-400
1. Mr. James Davidson

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at current levels of imports of meat, cereals and dairy produce, how much he estimates the United Kingdom will pay in a full year into the Common Market Fund in respect of these commodities.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. James Hoy)

An estimate on the basis suggested has not been made because it would be unrealistic and, therefore, misleading.

Mr. Davidson

I thank the Joint Parliamentary Secretary for that reply. No doubt he saw a recent article in the Financial Times in which a certain correspondent estimated that the cost would be about £800 million per annum, Whether this is an accurate or an inaccurate figure, does he not agree that this is evidence that we must become self-supporting in these three groups of commodities? Does the right hon. Gentleman also agree that the reason for this is that we must strengthen our bargaining position and save £200 million to £300 million per year? I should be most grateful if the right hon. Gentleman, in answering this question, could also assure the House that imports from Rumania, which have been agreed very recently as part of a larger deal, will not include—

Hon. Members

Too long.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Long questions prevent other hon. Members from asking questions.

Mr. Davidson

—goods in these three categories.

Mr. Hoy

I can hardly connect the last part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question with the main Question. New arrangements for financing the Common Agricultural Policy are due to come into effect on 1st January, 1970. Therefore, it is misleading to proceed on the basis of the present arrangements.

Mr. Jay

If these estimates could be made and published in 1967, why cannot they be made now?

Mr. Hoy

An estimate was made then. My right hon. Friend knows that circumstances have changed considerably since then. I would prefer to deal with that question when my right hon. Friend puts it to me later.

Mr. Turton

Is no attempt being made to bring the 1967 White Paper up to date?

Mr. Hoy

Obviously it is kept under review all the time. In view of the substantial changes which are bound to take place as from 1st January, 1970, it would be unrealistic to try to do it at present.