HL Deb 17 December 1975 vol 366 cc1562-4WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they expect to be able to announce the decision following the recent EEC talks with the New Zealand delegation regarding the amount of duty-free butter to be allowed into the United Kingdom after 1977; the new arrangements for New Zealand cheese exports; the implications for New Zealand of the EEC's proposed sheep-meat regulations; and what the present arrangements are where all three commodities are concerned.


The present arrangements for the importation of New Zealand butter and cheese into the United Kingdom are set out in Protocol 18 to the Act of Accession. These arrangements provide for specified annual quantities to be imported into the United Kingdom up to 1977. These quantities are subject to special levies which are set at a level enabling the specified quantities to be effectively marketed without prejudice to the marketing of Community produce.

The European Council meeting in Dublin in March 1975 invited the Commission to prepare a proposal for the maintenance after 31st December 1977 of special arrangements for butter, and indicated that for the period up to 1980 the annual quantities of butter could remain close to effective deliveries in 1974 and the quantities then envisaged for 1975. The detailed arrangements for implementing this are under consideration in the Council of Ministers, and it is expected that the detailed arrangements will be agreed in the New Year.

As regards cheese, the European Council decided that the situation and the problems which might result from the ending of the special arrangements in 1977 should be given due attention with appropriate urgency. It is expected that this question will also be discussed by the Council of Ministers in the New Year.

The EEC's proposed sheep meat regulation is still under discussion, and no early resolution of the problems it presents seems likely. The Government are bearing in mind the importance of New Zealand lamb to the United Kingdom in these discussions. At present New Zealand lamb imports enter the United Kingdom subject only to the payment of the Common Customs Tariff which is, under the transitional arrangements for 1975, 12 per cent. ad valorem and the small United Kingdom duty of 0.3734p per lb.

House adjourned at twenty-five minutes before nine o'clock