HC Deb 07 December 1970 vol 808 cc20-1
21. Mr. Moyle

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has received representations from the United States of America on the question of the imposition of levies by the United Kingdom on grain imports; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Godber

Yes, Sir. As large grain producers, the United States are naturally concerned about the possible effect that our cereals proposals could have on them. We are engaged in consultations with the United States Government and with other Governments who are parties to the Five Power Agreement relating to cereals.

Mr. Moyle

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that a sympathetic attitude will be taken towards these representations, since the imposition of levies, combined with trade protection and the predatory dumping of the Common Market, is creating an international climate of protection which is against this country's interests?

Mr. Godber

No, I could not give the undertaking for which the hon. Gentleman asks. All we are doing here is changing over the cost of support to this country from the taxpayer to the consumer. The effect on American or other suppliers can easily be exaggerated.

Sir H. Harrison

Does not the Minister agree that the Government will take the steps which are in the best interests of this country and British farmers?

Mr. Godber

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Peter Mills

Will the Minister bear in mind that there is a case for imposing levies on feed grains, which we can grow ourselves, but not such a good case for imposing levies on hard wheat, which would cause bread prices to rise considerably? Will he see that there is a differential?

Mr. Godber

I am interested in the point which my hon. Friend has put forward. I think that the commercial difference in price is sufficient to distinguish between the two.