HC Deb 10 June 1982 vol 25 cc379-80
7. Mr. Flannery

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he intends to have further discussions on the common agricultural policy with his counterparts in the European Economic Community.

Mr. Peter Walker

Yes, Sir, on 14 June.

Mr. Flannery

May we assume that in any discussions with his counterparts the Minister will again raise vigorously the whole question of the veto? Did the right hon. Gentleman not hear the Foreign Ministers say yesterday that the re-establishment of the right of veto was something for which Britain would have to fight? What will happen if our rights are violated, as they already have been, and our people are hurt and injured by the CAP? What will we do in those circumstances if the right of veto is not forthcoming? Will he consider withdrawal at least from the CAP, or, as many of us would like, from the Common Market?

Mr. Walker

As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has made clear in his Council of Ministers—the Council that is primarily responsible for the procedures of the Community—the matter will be raised at the next meeting. We have had major discussions and my right hon. Friend has clearly expressed the Government's views.

Mr. Geoffrey Johnson Smith

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is some anxiety about the impact on British agriculture and horticulture of the inclusion of Spain and Portugal in the EEC? Has he made an estimate of what that impact might be? If so, will he publish it?

Mr. Walker

No, Sir. At present, negotiations must examine the various formats of a transitional arrangement. In general, there will be some considerable advantages as well as problems from Spanish accession to the EEC, as many of Spain's food imports are produced in Britain. When finalising our negotiating position we must examine both the advantages and the disadvantages.

Mr. Buchan

Will the right hon. Gentleman ask Mr.Dalsager or another Commissioner to obtain a copy of the text of the letter that the right hon. Gentlman, extraordinarily, does not seem to have read? It was published verbatim in the last issue of Agra-Europe. Is the Minister aware that it says that they have seriously underestimated the cost of the price agreement and that it will cost several hundred million pounds more? Does the Minister agree that he has concealed that cost from the British people?

Mr. Walker

I have sought and will continue to seek the most updated. figures on the estimates of the Commission. I asked at the last meeting what the exact costs were. I also asked for a detailed assessment of the updated costs, post the agreement from the Commission. As soon as they are available to the United Kingdom I shall see that they are published and made available.

Sir Anthony Meyer

Will my right hon. Friend explain slowly and carefully to the Opposition that there is no way in which Britain, a major exporting country, can secure the larger share of the home market that it needs without accepting in return some form of CAP?

Mr. Walker

Having almost doubled the proportion of the agricultural budget that comes to Britain during the past three years, we are now in a rather stronger position than we were three years ago to support the advantages as well as to recognise the disadvantages of such a policy.

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