HC Deb 07 February 1974 vol 868 cc1357-8
10. Mr. Julius Silverman

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the present import levy on butter imported into the United Kingdom from outside the EEC.

Mrs. Fenner

After applying the monetary compensatory amounts, the general levy applied to imports of butter from third countries is £167.06 per ton. Imports from New Zealand are subject to the special arrangements provided for under Protocol 18.

Mr. Silverman

Does not the levy, even if it does not apply to New Zealand, regulate the price of all butter sold here? When the Minister goes to Brussels to seek a review of the CAP will he press for the abolition of this levy, and in any event will he or the succeeding Government abolish it?

Mrs. Fenner

Imports of butter from countries outside the Community, that is, countries other than New Zealand, have effectively ceased and the retail prices of butter are currently lower than at 1st February last year because of the EEC's consumer subsidy.

Mr. Deakins

Is it not disgraceful that at this time of high food prices we should be putting further taxes on food imports in order to keep up the price of food to the housewife?

Mrs. Fenner

During 1971 when there was a general shortage of dairy products butter was much more expensive than it is now. It has been 7p a lb. down on the prices for the first half of 1972.

Mr. Jay

But why do the Government impose this tax of £167 on butter?

Mrs. Fenner

This is a Community levy on third countries, but as we do not import from third countries, other than New Zealand, which is subject to special arrangements, it does not involve an imposition on the housewife.

Mr. Farr

As the price of butter today is about 10 per cent. below what it was in 1959, why do the Opposition not acknowledge that fact?

Mrs. Fenner

I cannot add anything to what my hon. Friend said.