HC Deb 25 March 1976 vol 908 cc604-5
2. Mr. Gould

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what consideration he gave to consumer interests in reaching agreement on the common agricultural policy price review proposals.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Fred Peart)

I gave the fullest possible consideration to the needs of consumers within the overall national interest.

Mr. Gould

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the proposed package of food price rises is bad news not only for the consumer but for the taxpayer, who will have to pay to get rid of food surpluses which consumers cannot afford? Does not this further turn of the CAP screw undermine the whole basis of the Government's counter-inflation policy?

Mr. Peart

I cannot accept that. The effect by the end of the year of the price review, details of which I announced on 8th March, may be to add 1¼ per cent. to the retail food index. I remind my hon. Friends that the farm workers' leader, Mr. Reg Bottini, has said that he believes that farm workers will benefit from this deal.

Mr. Michael Latham

Is it not important in the interests of consumers that there should be a steady expansion of our domestic agricultural industry, and does not that mean realistic prices?

Mr. Peart

I fully accept the hon. Gentleman's point. Hon. Members who criticise the deal must realise that it conforms with the Government's policy in the White Paper "Food from our own resources".