HL Deb 28 November 1985 vol 468 cc1053-4WA
Lord Stanley of Alderley

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they intend to adjust the ewe premium paid to United Kingdom producers so that they are put on an equal financial return with the remainder of the European Communities' producers, or failing that, what steps they intend to take "to ensure that these effects are as far as possible minimised" as stated in their written reply to the Lord Stanley of Alderley of 30th October 1985; and

Whether they will state the reasons why they conceded in principle to the ending of the Special Export Certification for ewes when:—

  1. (a) the United Kingdom is the major producer of sheepmeat in the European Community;
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  3. (b) they were warned of this danger by the House of Lords European Communities Committee's recent report on sheepmeat (21 st Report, 1983–84, H.L. 264); and
  4. (c) no ewe has ever received any variable premium.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Belstead)

With permission, I will answer these two questions together. In his reference to a concession, my noble friend misunderstands the position. The EC Commission is committed to bringing the SEC arrangements as such to an end but has undertaken to make every effort to secure agreement between the member states concerned on the arrangements to apply thereafter. However, the Commission has not yet agreed on revised arrangements to govern the export of ewes. In the meantime, my right honourable friend received a communication from the Agriculture Commissioner inviting him to suspend the arrangements that have operated since 1980 on the grounds that the Commission no longer accepts their validity, but my right honourable friend refused to accept the Commission's approach.

In the circumstances, it is inappropriate for me to comment on the detailed questions raised by my noble friend.