§ Mr. Marlow
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the £3,000 million given in answer to the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) on 8 July 1980, Official Report, c. 140, as the gross cost to the United Kingdom of the common 340W agricultural policy were spread over the total cost of United Kingdom food consumption, what would be the cost per £ sterling.
§ Mr. Peter Walker
The figure of £3,000 million which I gave in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) on 8 July 1980 represented the approximate difference between the cost to United Kingdom consumers of buying foodstuffs at the prices then current and the cost of buying them at the third country offer prices used in the calculation of Community import levies.
I explained that this overstated the real difference in cost since it is unlikely that we would be able, or would in some cases necessarily choose, to purchase all our import requirements at third country offer prices. It does not, therefore, represent the gross cost to the United Kingdom of the common agricultural policy. Recent trends in sugar prices indicate the dangers of relying on the availability of any commodity on world markets.