HC Deb 13 March 1980 vol 980 cc1542-4
9. Mr. Spearing

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his latest estimate in sterling of the amount likely to be spent by the EEC during 1980 on the disposal, storage, or subsidised sale of all surplus agricultural produce; and what is his estimate for cereals, sugar and milk products, respectively.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

It is too early to make firm estimates, but in its revised draft budget for 1980 the Commission's estimates for export refunds, subsidised sales within the Community and intervention purchase and storage total £5,300 million. Of this, milk and milk products account for £2,500 million, cereals for £1,000 million and sugar for £400 million.

Mr. Spearing

Can the Minister confirm that none of the surpluses arises from United Kingdom activities? Will he confirm that the United Kingdom's share of the costs of disposing of the surpluses is about the same as the net budget deficit? Is it not clear, therefore, that virtually all our monetary and budget disadvantage in the EEC come from the CAP? Is it not time to decide to get out before the going gets even worse?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

It is precisely because of the need to control the surpluses that we are opposing price increases for those products which are in surplus. The price increases last year, when the Conservative Government were in power, were lower than those achieved when the Labour Party was in power.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Does my hon. Friend agree that the United Kingdom dairy industry does not contribute at all to the surplus of dairy products within the EEC? Will my hon. Friend ensure that the Government do not make any concession to the EEC in respect of the implementation of a co-responsibility levy? Will my hon. Friend seek to persuade the EEC that bulk sale of liquid milk through the daily pinta is the best way to remove the surplus and that, therefore, we must not damage our daily pinta in any way?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

My hon. Friend is right. That is why we are closely questioning the type of co-responsibility levy which the Commission proposes. The effect of that levy is to tax all countries and all producers, regardless of whether they contribute to the overall surplus. The United Kingdom milk producers are not contributing to the overall surplus.

Mr. Jay

How much of the £5 billion is being used to subsidise food exports to the Soviet Union at the expense of the British taxpayer?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, and as we have made clear on a number of occasions, we oppose the use of funds to subsidise exports to Russia and Eastern Europe. We shall continue to do so.