HL Deb 16 October 1984 vol 455 c973
Lord Chelwood

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their estimate of the acreage devoted to grain this year and of the tonnage harvested; approximately how much is surplus to our domestic requirements; how these figures compare with 1983; what will be the cost to the British taxpayer of subsidies this season; how much of this is likely to be recovered from our EEC partners, and what proposals they have for cutting this waste and extravagance.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Belstead)

The information requested on United Kingdom production and demand for home-grown cereals in seasons 1983–84 and 1984–85 is as follows:

1983–84 1984–85
Estimated cereals area 3.96 4.05
(million hectares)
Estimated production 21.3 26.2
(million tonnes) (1983) (1984)
Surplus: Difference between production and estimated domestic usage in the season
(million tonnes) 4.0 8.9

The cost of support to the cereals industry, and the level of public expenditure involved, depends on a number of factors. These include in particular the proportion of United Kingdom exports going to Community and non-Community countries respectively, the strength of demand for cereals on the world market, and the relationship between Community and world market prices. The U.K. contributes to the cost of the Community budget as a whole and not to individual régimes. Currently the average U.K. contribution rate is 22 per cent.

The way to get the Community's cereals régime back into a better balance is to take action on prices, and the U.K. will be urging that the Community act strongly on the price level at next year's price fixing.