HC Deb 26 January 1965 vol 705 cc144-6W
Mr. Snow

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will state what his policy is in the matter of domestic production of sugar relative to existing commitments for the importation of cane sugar; and whether, in the interests of the national need to reduce imports, the United Kingdom interests will predominate over foreign and Commonwealth importations.

Mr. Peart

Our purchases of cane sugar from the Commonwealth are governed by the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement which at present runs to 1972. Domestic production of beet sugar is regulated by decisions taken at the Annual Reviews held under the Agriculture Acts. The total quantity of sugar obtained from these two sources nearly satisfies United Kingdom requirements. To increase domestic production of sugar at the expense of imports from Commonwealth countries would not only involve a breach of a longstanding commercial agreement, but would react most unfavourably on the economies of a number of under-developed territories which depend largely on sugar production for their livelihood.

Mr. Snow

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the average daily intake of unprocessed sugar beet in the 1963–64 season; what is the daily intake capacity in respect of each of the sugar factories in the West Midlands; and what is the estimated actual daily intake for 1964–65.

Mr. Hoy

The following information has been provided by the British Sugar Corporation:

Actual Daily intake 1963–64 tons Daily intake capacity 1964–65 tons Actual daily intake 1964–65 tons
Allscott 2,219(a) 2,450 2,523(b)
Kidderminster 2,344(a) 2,600 2,342(c)
(a) In 1963–64 both Allscott and Kidderminster were engaged in concurrent refining i.e. raw sugar was being processed at the same time as sugar beet with a consequent reduction in the tonnage of beet that could be taken in.
(b) In the event, it proved possible to put through rather more than the calculated capacity for this factory.
(c) In 1964–65 the rate of intake at Kidderminster had to be reduced because of the exceptionally high sugar content of this year's beet. The factory could have sliced a larger daily tonnage of beet but the subsequent purifying processes would then have been overloaded. Accordingly, the factory had to operate for a slightly longer period to cope with the sugar beet to be processed.

Mr. Stainton

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether, as a contribution to steadying the cost of living, he will instruct the Sugar Board to reduce the level of surcharge on refined sugar for United Kingdom consumption to the current difference between the free world price of raw sugar and the Commonwealth and home beet producers' contract prices.

Mr. Peart

The present rate of surcharge includes a relatively small element designed to eliminate by June this year

15th October, 1964 15th December, 1964
Bread, flour, cereals, biscuits and cakes 109 112
Meat and bacon 114 115
Fish 106 109
Butter, margarine, lard and cooking fat 112 115
Milk, cheese and eggs 102 108
Tea, coffee, cocoa, soft drinks, etc. 105 104
Sugar, preserves and confectionery 121 120
Vegetables, fresh, dried and canned 105 106
Fruit, fresh, dried and canned 85 85
Other foods 108 108
ALL FOOD 108.0 109.9

Within the meat group, although the prices of some cuts have risen, others have remained stable or fallen. In recent weeks, there have been decreases in the prices of all sizes of eggs and in the price of bacon.

the deficit incurred by the Sugar Board in 1964. The Sugar Act, 1956, requires the Board to balance its books, taking one year with another. It would be improper for me to instruct the Board to disregard its statutory duty.