HC Deb 12 July 1979 vol 970 cc640-1
4. Mr. Body

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will publish his proposals for the radical reform of the common agricultural policy.

Mr. Peter Walker

Improvements in the CAP will have to be pursued as opportunity offers in negotiation with other member States. But I shall of course keep the House informed of progress.

Mr. Body

Will my right hon. Friend be good enough to reaffirm that it is the firm intention of the Government to insist upon a radical reform of the CAP?

Mr. Walker

Yes. The two biggest problems in the policy are surpluses in milk and sugar. The autumn months will be very much taken up by the Commission's proposals for trying to reduce the substantial sugar quota which is in operation. If we can tackle those matters effectively, we shall bring about a transformation over the coming period.

Mr. Jay

Is the Minister aware that I checked with Sainsbury's about the price of butter this morning and was told that the reduction was 2p or 3p a pound? Is he sure that he is not misleading the House?

Mr. Walker

I am certain. Prices in all the stores were checked this morning. English butter at Sainsbury's is down by 6p a pound. I can give the right hon. Gentleman the exact prices for half a pound of butter. English butter at Sainsbury's was 36½p on the date on which the subsidy came in, and it is now 33½p.

Mr. McNamara

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that over the past few years we have had some very good years for wine, and that this year looks as though it will also be a very good one for wine? That will produce lakes from our Community partners. What steps is the right hon. Gentleman taking to ensure that the producers of industrial alcohol in this country are protected from the EEC regulations that allow wine growers to spill over into the industrial sector and affect employment and downstream products in the United Kingdom?

Mr. Walker

The point made by the hon. Gentleman is of immense importance to British industry and a number of constituencies. On the agenda for the September meeting of the Council is a regime not just for wine but for the whole alcohol industry. Obviously I shall be looking after the interests of British companies in those negotiations.