HC Deb 21 June 1973 vol 858 cc856-8
12. Mr. Jay

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what foodstuffs imported into the United Kingdom from outside the EEC are now subject to import duties or levies.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Joseph Godber)

The answer is the same as that given to the right hon. Gentleman in reply to his Question on 14th June.

Mr. Jay

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the Government have themselves imposed food taxes on mutton, lamb, pork, bacon, eggs, fish, butter, cheese, fruit and vegetables?

Mr. Godber

I confirm precisely what was in the answer to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. I also tell the right hon. Gentleman that on entering the European Community we accepted certain obligations, which we are now carrying through.

Charges are imposed on the following items of food which were not subject to charges before: pork offals, canned pigs' tongues, whole hams, lard, butter, beef, beef sweetbreads, beef tongues, and rice other than whole rice. Those are the only items on which taxes were not imposed before.

Mr. Hicks

Will my right hon. Friend say what effect changes in the level of import levies have had on food prices?

Mr. Godber

Since our entry into the Community, I have made it clear on various occasions that the effect has been minimal so far. The expected cost in 1973 is an addition of 1½ per cent. on food costs.

Mr. David Clark

The right hon. Gentleman referred to charges being imposed on certain items. Is that the same as taxes?

Mr. Godber

I do not think that "taxes" is the correct word. These are charges. There are levies in certain cases, and compensatory amounts in others; there has to be a balancing effect in regard to some, because some reduce the price of Community food coming to this country. Therefore, there are charges and balancing compensatory amounts. It is not so simple as to enable one to put it in the way that the hon. Gentleman did.

Mr. Cockeram

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that at the same time as levies were introduced on these few items, purchase tax and SET were reduced on all food items?

Mr. Godber

Yes, Sir. It is true that the Government have removed the food taxes imposed by the previous Labour Government.

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