§ 7. Sir A. Meyer
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the current EEC subsidy on food imports as a percentage of their real cost.
§ Mr. Peart
The United Kingdom monetary compensatory amount resulting from the difference between the market rate and the representative rate for the £ sterling is now 20.9 per cent. of the Community support price in the United Kingdom for the products affected, except for common wheat, for which it is 28.4 per cent. of the support price.
§ Sir A. Meyer
Do not those figures indicate that the common agricultural policy is being used by the Government to conceal real increases in the cost of living? Does not the inexorable fall in the value of the pound suggest that the Government are relying ever more on the patience of our European partners to conceal their failure to grapple with inflation?
§ Mr. Pym
Is the Minister aware that the value of the EEC subsidy referred to in his reply is equivalent to between 4 per cent. and 5 per cent. on the Retail Price Index? That is a considerable subsidy, much higher than it has ever been. For how long does the Minister think it will be possible for the consumer to enjoy such an enormous EEC subsidy?
§ Mr. Spearing
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the subsidies described are on prices which are very high? Is not the position comparable with that of a housewife who has perforce to shop in a supermarket which charges very high prices but in return she gets Green Shield stamps?
§ Mr. Marten
Does the Minister agree that there is something slightly dishonourable in claiming credit for the difference of 5 per cent. in the Retail Price index because of the level of the green pound? It is a curious argument to claim that the devaluation of sterling benefits the Common Market.