HC Deb 15 March 1976 vol 907 cc934-5
29. Mr. Shersby

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what proposals he has put to the EEC on the position which the Community should take in the multilateral trade negotiations.

Mr. Shore

The Community's general line in relation to the multilateral trade negotiations was set out by the Council in a series of directives last year. These took into account various proposals I had made designed to remove trade barriers, which have since been followed up by my Department in the detailed preparatory work. Most recently we have proposed significant improvements in the offer that the Community will shortly be making on barriers to trade in tropical products.

Mr. Shersby

Will the Secretary of State tell the House what part he personally played in formulating that EEC point of view?

Mr. Shore

Yes. Some months ago we had a special meeting of EEC Trade Ministers to consider the mandate that the Commission should use as its authority in conducting these negotiations. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the views that I put forward on behalf of the United Kingdom were on that occasion substantially adopted.

Mr. Marten

According to an answer that I received on Friday, New Zealand butter is £300 a ton cheaper than Common Market butter. Is there any hope of reducing the trade barrier that keeps out New Zealand butter?

Mr. Shore

It would be wrong for me to give an optimistic reply, because butter prices come under the common agricultural policy. While I am hopeful of some progress in the multilateral negotiations on the food trade, I am more hopeful of progress in trade in industrial goods and tropical products than in temperate foodstuffs, of which butter is one.

Mr. Higgins

Will the right hon. Gentleman place in the Library details of the proposals he has made to the EEC? Will he ask his right hon. Friend whether we may have a debate on this important subject before the trade negotiations get much further advanced?

Mr. Shore

I shall consult my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House about the hon. Gentleman's latter request. I shall reflect on his former request, and unless there is any difficulty or any impropriety, or if any precedent is being created—although I do not expect such a situation—I shall do my best to oblige the hon. Gentleman.