HC Deb 21 October 1982 vol 29 cc496-8
16. Mr. Marlow

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a comparison between the current United Kingdom market price and world market price for(a)wheat, (b)beef,(c)butter and(d) sugar.

Mr. Peter Walker

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I shall publish the information in theOfficial Report; but my hon. Friend is aware that world prices fluctuate substantially—for example, only a short time ago the world price of sugar was 40 per cent. above the Community price.

Mr. Marlow

Does my right hon. Friend agree—we shall see later in theOfficial Report—that for most of these commodities the European prices are much higher than world market prices? Inasmuch as the United Kingdom is a net importer of European foodstuffs, is this difference in price not a heavy tax on the British consumer over and above our net budget contribution? Would my right hon. Friend—on a slightly different matter—

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is enough to get on with.

Mr. Walker

On the general scene of food prices, I am sure that my hon. Friend will be pleased to know that during the period of this Government farm gate prices have increased at only half the rate of inflation in general. With regard to the Community agriculture budget, whereas under the Labour Government this went up by more than 200 per cent. , under this Government it has gone up by only 26 per cent.

Mr. Buchan

Has the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs drawn the Minister's attention to the publication known as "The Budget Problem"? Does he agree with it when it states that Britain buys food from other member states at Community prices which are higher than world prices because of the price support mechanisms of the CAP and …the resulting cost to Britain is not matched by equivalent gains on the industrial side"?

If the right hon. Gentleman agrees with that, why the hell do we not get out?

Mr. Walker

I know that that has been the constant view of the hon. Gentleman, but perhaps he should reflect on what my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Colvin) said. There may be many people in the Socialist economies of Eastern Europe who would prefer to have the surplus problems of the CAP to the shortages of the Soviet Union.

Following is the information:

United Kingdom price* Estimated world pricer†
Wheat 113 74.7
Beef 1,769.82 923
Butter 2,307 1,224.1
Sugar 405.9 111.4


*Average United Kingdom market prices for week ending 11 September 1982.

Wheat: First hand buying price for all types.

Beef: Certified cattle converted to deadweight using a killing-out percentage of 53.8

Butter: First hand price for sweet cream, salted, 10 kg cartons.

Sugar: Refined, granulated, in bulk: 50 kg paper sacks.

†"World prices" have been taken as minimum offer prices of imports underlying the calculation of the variable levies and have been calculated by subtracting the common levy in ecus applicable on 16 September 1982 from the appropriate threshold or guide price in ecus. The beef price is also adjusted for duty. These "world prices" have been converted from ecus at the market rate used for calculating MCAs on 16 September: £1.183075 ecus.