HC Deb 29 April 1993 vol 223 cc1145-6
18. Mr. Cryer

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what will be the estimated annual cost of the common agricultural policy for the United Kingdom in the current financial year.

Mr. Gummer

About £2.32 billion estimated market support expenditure in the United Kingdom for this financial year.

Mr. Cryer

Does that figure not demonstrate what a calamity the common agricultural policy was and is? In spite of successive Ministers saying that there has been root and branch reform of the policy, the fact remains that it costs families in this country at least £18 a week, that it is an obscene policy because it damages other developing nations and that even when starvation occurs, the massively increasing food mountains are never touched because the Common Market buys food from world markets and does not transfer the food surplus to the starving areas of the world. Is it not time for the British Government to recognise that the CAP is a failure and that the only way for us to avoid the CAP is to get out of the Common Market?

Mr. Gummer

The cost per family has gone down £1 since the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) put forward his view. If hon. Members ask a few more questions, we will get the figure down to nil, and that will be very convenient. There is a real cost involved in looking after the land and ensuring future food supplies in Europe. That cost is bound to be considerable. It is too high and that is why we have taken major measures to change the common agricultural policy, and that will cut prices in some areas by 30 per cent. The result will be that total resource costs will be considerably reduced. The hon. Gentleman hates the European Community. It is odd that his party still has him as a member.