HC Deb 28 March 1972 vol 834 cc219-21
16. Mr. Scott-Hopkins

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his latest estimate is of the United Kingdom contribution to the European Economic Community Agricultural Fund, in view of the rise of 8 per cent. proposed by the European Economic Community Commission for farm prices.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

The Council of Ministers reached decisions at the end of last week on farm prices for the coming year. We are still studying the implications of these decisions. There are a number of other factors to be taken into account as well as the Council's decision, notably the course of world prices.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the average figure should be 6½ per cent. and not 8 per cent.? In view of the rising prices in the world market and, indeed, our own prices, which are going up, the increased contribution could be minimal. Will he give the House his estimate of the effect on the cost of living, which should be only minimal as well?

Mr. Macmillan

I accept what my hon. Friend has said. I think that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is to answer a Question on the effect of food prices tomorrow.

As to the effect on the cost of entry, the White Paper estimates were based on the long-term assumptions of a relation between Community and world prices over a period over which both Community and world prices will move. As my hon. Friend suggested, the present movement does not look like being very significant in making any impact on the long-term assumption.

20. Sir B. Rhys Williams

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement following his recent discussions in London with M. Werner.

Mr. Barber

Yes, Sir. We had a full discussion covering both international and European monetary matters. This meeting prepared the way for the further discussion which I had with E.E.C. Finance Ministers in Brussels on 6th March.

Sir B. Rhys Williams

In view of M. Werner's laudable interest in procuring more stable conditions in European currency markets, may I ask my right hon. Friend to initiate a detailed study of the conditions which make for variations in the real value of currencies so that if changes in currencies have to be made they can be made as small and predictable as possible?

Mr. Barber

I will certainly consider what why hon. Friend has suggested.

Mr. Taverne

Will the Chancellor convey to his colleagues in the E.E.C. and to the Commission that Britain has a great deal to gain from monetary and economic union if, but only if, regional policies are adequately pursued by the Community? Will he state what representations he has made on the need for proper regional policies?

Mr. Barber

The Community has always stressed the importance of an effective regional policy, and those in the Community recognise the particular problems of some of the older industrial conurbations of the United Kingdom. I had a meeting with the Finance Ministers of the Six and the other acceding countries in Brussels on 6th March. It was a private meeting, but I did certainly discuss the whole question of regional policy and I made clear what the wishes of the United Kingdom were.

22. Mr. Judd

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will make a statement on the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards the proposal that developing countries should be represented at the Group of Ten.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

As my right hon. Friend has said on previous occasions, we sympathise with the desire of developing countries to play a proper part in discussions of international monetary questions. They already do so in the I.M.F. Board. The Government support the discussions now taking place within the I.M.F. to find ways in which they can be given a more effective voice

Mr. Judd

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that the Group of Ten exclusively represents a minority of nations but that its decisions have far-reaching implications for the majority of human society, which is in no way represented at its meetings? Does this not amount to economic imperialism? What are we going to do about it?

Mr. Macmillan

I do not think that it is correct to draw that conclusion. The Group of Ten is a group of countries which have a formal agreement to lend their currencies to the I.M.F. It is very difficult to add to it very readily. Certainly, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor would pay full attention to the views of the other countries when he is dealing in the Group of Ten. Other arrangements are being discussed. The problem, of course, is to devise a body which is small enough to be effective and yet also meets the desire of a large number of countries to have their say.

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