HC Deb 08 February 1972 vol 830 cc1119-20
7. Mr. Milne

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will give details of the revised Commonwealth Sugar Agreement and the arrangements made for the Commonwealth sugar-producing areas following Great Britain's entry into the European Economic Community.

Mr. Prior

Protocol 17 to the Treaty of Accession sets out the conditions under which sugar purchased under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement can continue to be imported until 28th February, 1975. Subsequent arrangements for the developing Commonwealth countries concerned will be settled in the context of association or trading agreements between them and the enlarged Community.

Mr. Milne

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that is only half an answer? What he has failed to show in it is that the price of Commonwealth sugar has risen by £7 per ton and can rise by a further £11 under the agreement, which was commended because his Government have decided to join the E.E.C. Will the Minister also take into account the fact that there is an increase in ex-refinery prices as well, which is a further commentary on his answer to the previous Question that retail prices had risen by 15 per cent. since June, 1970?

Mr. Prior

The increase in the Commonwealth sugar price which has just been negotiated ought to find some sympathy with right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite because it is to meet the needs of developing countries which have had no increase in sugar prices for some years. I think that that would be a reasonable point of view for right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to support.

Mr. MacArthur

When my right hon. Friend is considering these arrangements, will he bear in mind that Scotland is part of the Commonwealth?

Mr. Prior

I will not only bear it in mind. In this House, it is hardly likely that one would ever be allowed to forget it.

Mr. Alfred Morris

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we on this side of the House are concerned with quantities as well as with prices? Will he give an unqualified and definitive assurance to the House that there will be access to the Common Market for 1.4 million tons of Commonwealth sugar?

Mr. Prior

The hon. Gentleman spent a long time while going round the West Indies trying to undermine the agreement. I can assure him that the agreement which was reached at Lancaster House last June is regarded as a firm assurance of a continuing market for present quantities, and Commonwealth countries intend to plan production on that basis.