HC Deb 19 November 1987 vol 122 c1194
11. Mr. Baldry

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the latest progress being made within the European Community to reduce agricultural surpluses.

Mr. MacGregor

As I said earlier, the Council of Agriculture Ministers is currently considering Commission proposals directed at tackling surpluses and their associated budgetary costs and bringing the common agricultural policy within a framework of greater budgetary discipline.

Mr. Baldry

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is essential to continue to insist on a legal framework of binding rules to ensure budgetary discipline for agricultural spending if the future of the European Community is not to be imperilled? Such controls must ensure strict production controls on every major product area.

Mr. MacGregor

I certainly agree about the importance of providing a budgetary framework that really works to keep the CAP within the budget allocated to it. At the present time—this is one of the problems—the proposed Commission expenditure on agriculture for next year is £3,000 million above the guidelines calculated under the current rules. That is why it is important that we get effective stabilisers next week, and that means having clear figures and a mechanism that obviously works. I would not go along with my hon. Friend in saying that there must be production quotas for every sector. I believe that, in many sectors, price restraints and the kinds of proposals that we have before us at the moment, represent a much more effective way of tackling the problem.

Mr. John Evans

Will the Minister confirm that some of the stockpiled food is now unfit for human consumption?

Mr. MacGregor

Obviously that is so, since quite a lot of the stockpile is in feed wheat, which never goes for human consumption. We regularly monitor stocks, for example, of beef and other products. In our case, I do not believe there is any evidence that we are causing those stocks to deteriorate to the extent that they are unusable.

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