HC Deb 28 July 1983 vol 46 cc1311-2
1. Mr.Spearing

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will state the names of three principal countries receiving cereals grown in the United Kingdom in 1982 on which export subsidies were paid, with the round tonnage and subsidy in each case, respectively.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. John MacGregor)

It is not possible to give figures for the 1982 crop yet, as exports from this crop are still in progress. There are also difficulties in establishing reliable figures.

Mr. Spearing

Is not that answer surprising, in view of the written answer that the Minister gave me on 21 July in which he set out the recipients of British surplus cereals —including Algeria with 11 million tonnes, Cuba with 10 million tonnes and Saudia Arabia with 12 million tonnes—who received a total of £80 million worth of grain? Is this not a bizarre state of affairs, and will the Minister confirm that that £80 million is, in EC accounts, receipts to the United Kingdom?


I am aware that I gave a written answer, but that was in relation to exports for 1982, and the hon. Gentleman is asking about United Kingdom cereals grown in 1982. On his second point, there are aspects of this that worry us. We feel chat the cost of exporting the Community's cereal surplus is excessive, and that is why we have welcomed the fact that in the last three price fixings the increase in intervention prices for cereals has been below that for other products. We are in favour of measures to continue reducing the gap between Community and world prices, which will help to deal with this.

The hon. Gentleman will know that the countries that he mentioned, and some eastern European countries, are among the world's largest markets for grain and that, therefore, it is an inevitable part of the process that Community exports will to some extent, go to those countries. We should be against any proposals to sell grain on preferential terms to specific countries.

Mr. Marlow

If, as my hon. Friend says, he would like to bring Community cereal prices more into line with world prices, will he confirm that Her Majesty's Government have no intention of discussing an increase in own resources until we are much closer to those prices than we are now?

Mr. MacGregor

My hon. Friend will know that discussions will be taking place over the coming months on the post-Stuttgart situation and that part of the discussions will be on the common agricultural policy. We have not yet seen the Community proposals, but our attitude is in line with this approach.