§ 2. Mr. Nicholas Winterton
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what consideration was given during the recent price review negotiations to the "stocktaking" document on the common agricultural policy.
§ The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Peart)
The European Commission's stocktaking report, and the conclusions drawn by the Council from its examination of it, were taken fully into account.
§ Mr. Winterton
Is the Minister aware that in the recent review there was no major attempt to reduce the structural surpluses that exist? When will some measure of co-responsibility be introduced so that the consumer may enjoy the benefits of such surpluses as exist?
§ Mr. Pym
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that one embarrassing result of the review, in respect of milk, is that by not taking into account the recommendations of the stocktaking document the milk powder mountain across the Channel is likely to grow? Will he say what progress is being made with the scheme in this country? Are compounders able to take their money out of deposit? Is the skimmed milk powder available for them to use? Is not the real point that the arrangements made for milk across 1447 the Channel will, unfortunately, allow the mountain to remain?
§ Mr. Buchan
Is it not the case that whatever proposals may have been made to deal with the existing surpluses of skimmed milk, other decisions continue to add to the mountain? As for any achievements that we had in the negotiations on the question of a premium system for beef, surely this too is not succeeding, because we are beginning to see a beef mountain developing in this country also?
§ Mr. Torney
Has my right hon. Friend been into a butcher's shop recently, or has his wife, perhaps, told him about the tremendously high price being charged for prime English and Scottish beef, while large quantities of this commodity are going into intervention and storage?
1448 Does he agree that this shows the stupidity of the CAP, which was advocated by right hon. and hon. Members opposite who are now criticising my right hon. Friend?
§ Mr. Peart
I have always argued that we should not rely on permanent intervention. I sought to negotiate in the Community something similar to our deficiency payments system. We have got the variable premium, but we have had a little difficulty over intervention. However, I took immediate action and withdrew from intervention meat of a certain category. In other words, intervention will not apply to it. That action has been criticised by other people, but I think it was right to take it. We have achieved success in that respect.