HC Deb 21 May 1982 vol 24 cc209-10W
Mr. Mates

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will set out the changes in the variable beef premium that he negotiated in Brussels; and if he will make a statement about the suckler cow subsidy.

Mr. Peter Walker

The Council of Agriculture Ministers of the European Community decided at its meeting on 17 to 18 May that the maximum amount -payable under the variable beef premium scheme should be increased from 54.403 to 80 ecus per animal. The maximum amount payable in £ sterling is therefore increased from 7.32 to 10.759 pence per liveweight kilogram. This is an increase of just over two-fifths, and not the two-thirds which I inadvertently mentioned in my statement to the House on 19 May.

The Council also decided that, for 1982.83, FEOGA would contribute 40 per cent. of the cost of any premiums payable. This represents a substantial increase above the previous level of 25 per cent. negotiated by the previous Government.

The Council of Ministers decided that the amount of the suckler cow premium financed by FEOGA should be reduced from 20 to 15 ecus per animal. For 1982–83, the Government will make good this reduction by a payment of 5 ecus per animal from the Exchequer. The amount that the producer receives will thus be maintained at £12.37 per animal in Great Britain and £24.74 in Northern Ireland. I estimate that this Exchequer subsidy will be worth some £3.6 million to United Kingdom beef producers.