HC Deb 09 May 1991 vol 190 cc819-20
15. Mr. Ralph Howell

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list (a) overall European Commission expenditure as a percentage of overall European Community gross domestic product, (b) net European Commission expenditure on agriculture as a percentage of overall European Community gross domestic product and (c) the net United Kingdom expenditure on agriculture including net receipts from the European Commission as a proportion of United Kingdom gross domestic product, for the last year for which figures are available.

Mr. Gummer

The figures are 0.9 per cent., 0.6 per cent. and 0.24 per cent.

Mr. Howell

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Does not it prove that some of the statements that he has made about the high cost of agricultural support have been grossly exaggerated? Will he also bear in mind the fact that British agriculture is supported even less than European agriculture and we are spending less than a quarter of the amount on agricultural support than we were in 1960 and only half what we were spending in 1973 when we joined the EC?

Mr. Gummer

My hon. Friend must accept that the budget is likely to go up by 30 per cent. next year, which cannot be sensible in the present circumstances. It must be reasonable to bring the budget under control and ensure that a higher proportion of it reaches the farmers whom it is supposed to support. I do not think that we help the situation by arguing on the basis of the percentage of gross national product.