HC Deb 10 June 1982 vol 25 cc381-2
9. Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the European Economic Community Council of Ministers last discussed the export of subsidised food to the Soviet Union; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

On 5 February 1980.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Is it right or tolerable that we still export millions of tonnes of food and wine to the Soviet Union at knock-down prices, when our consumers must pay Common Market taxes of up to £1 per pound on beef and 50p per pound on butter? As the Government have been talking about that matter for years, is it not intolerable that the export of subsidised food and wine to Russia is greater than ever before?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told my hon. Friend on 8 April this year, we are not happy about that. My hon. Friend is quite right to raise the matter. I should have more respect for what he said if he did not exaggerate, but showed some appreciation of what we have already achieved. We have opposed any special subsidy—no special subsidies favouring Russia are in force. On two commodities that have caused anxiety—butter and butter oil—there is no subsidy and therefore no exports. I should respect what my hon. Friend has said more if he acknowledged what had been achieved.

Mr. Geraint Howells

We all know that there are surpluses in the Community. Do the Government have any plans to give such surpluses to the young, the needy and the elderly in Britain?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will acknowledge the butter subsidy that we have achieved, the fact that we operate premium schemes on beef and sheepmeat that are of direct benefit to British consumers, and that, last but not least, at the last price fixing we considerably improved—by 25 per cent.—the sum available under the school milk scheme. All of those demonstrate our interest in the matter.