HC Deb 12 July 1979 vol 970 cc654-5
16. Mr. John Evans

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how much sugar is stockpiled in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

As an insurance against shortage sugar producers are required, under EEC regulations, to maintain minimum stocks equal to 10 per cent. of production. At the end of May this stockholding requirement was about 220,000 tonnes. This is in addition to the Government emergency stocks.

Mr. Evans

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that the United Kingdom stockpile is only a part of the enormous EEC stockpile of over 3 million tonnes? Does he agree that if market forces were applied to the sugar sector the EEC mountains would be reduced and the price of sugar for the housewife would come down?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

There is no sugar in intervention in the United Kingdom. We believe that more drastic action has to be taken to control sugar surpluses in Europe generally and that that is best done through the quota system. We shall be working towards that end in the autumn.

Mr. Hawkins

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind the importance of the sugar beet industry to the whole of East Anglia not only from the farming point of view but in terms of employment in factories, in the haulage industry and on the farms?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I acknowledge what my hon. Friend says. Sugar beet is an important agricultural commodity in the United Kingdom. It is especially important in specific areas such as the one that my hon. Friend represents. In our discussions in Europe we shall bear in mind the interests of our producers.

Mrs. Dunwoody

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there has been a positive increase in the cultivation of sugar beet in the Community and that that will undoubtedly damage the long-term interests of cane sugar producers with whom we have associate agreements?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The hon. Lady probably knows that the agreement to import from ACP countries has been taken over by the Commission and that it is maintaining those imports.

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