HC Deb 19 April 1990 vol 170 c1536
3. Mr. John Marshall

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the future of the United Kingdom sugar beet industry.

Mr. Curry

The United Kingdom sugar beet industry grows and processes about half the United Kingdom's sugar requirements. We will seek to ensure that British sugar interests are defended in the forthcoming review of the Community's support arrangements.

Mr. Marshall

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is in the British interest that British Sugar should remain a British-owned company? Does he agree that foreign acquisition of it would be bad for employment and bad for British sugar beet growers?

Mr. Curry

The ownership of British Sugar is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the Office of Fair Trading. My function is to ensure that the interests of British beet farmers and British beet production are safeguarded. I shall pay close attention to that in the negotiations.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Has the Minister discussed the representations concerning the future of the British sugar beet industry with the Chairman of the Select Committee on Agriculture?

Mr. Curry

No, Sir.

Sir William Clark

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the Government intend to continue to import the present tonnages of cane sugar?

Mr. Curry

Yes, I can give that assurance. The importation of 1.3 million tonnes of cane sugar from the developing countries is important to the United Kingdom. It constitutes half our supply and a major outlet for cane producers. Next month, I shall address the ministerial meeting of the African, Caribbean and Pacific producers on precisely that subject.

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