HC Deb 13 February 1979 vol 962 cc468-9W
Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, what was the outcome of the Council of Ministers (Agriculture) meeting in Brussels on 12 February.

Mr. John Silkin

I represented the United Kingdom at a meeting of the Council of Ministers (Agriculture) in Brussels on 12 February.

The Council discussed a Commission working paper on the elimination of any new monetary compensatory amounts that might develop if the European monetary system were introduced and the European currency unit adopted for CAP purposes. No agreement was reached: there remains a basic difference of approach between France and other member countries; and I made it clear that the United Kingdom could not consider arrangements for the automatic elimination of new monetary compensatory amounts unless it were decided also to maintain a freeze on common prices until surpluses were eliminated. I joined Italy in seeking a decision on the Commission's proposals for moderate devaluations of the green pound and lira, but these were not substantively discussed.

Discussion of both these agri-monetary issues will be resumed at the next Council meeting on 5–6 March. It now seems possible that decisions on common prices for 1979–80 will not be reached before the scheduled beginning of the next milk and beef marketing years on 1–2 April. The Government's attitude to any proposals to extend the current marketing years will be strongly influenced by the outcome of future Council discussion of the Commission's proposals for early green rate devaluations.

I also pressed for early discussion by the Council of the Commission's proposals for a directive on provisions to protect the welfare of animals during international transport. I urged that these rules should require that farm animals intended for slaughter should not be permitted to travel for more than 12 hours on their final journey to the slaughterhouse. The Commissioner for Agriculture undertook to consider this.