HL Deb 09 December 1986 vol 482 cc1139-40WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether press reports of EC subsidies to tobacco growing in Europe of £637 million per year are accurate; and if not what is the correct figure; whether more socially useful crops could not be found and what is their policy in this matter.

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

In 1985, the last full year for which details are available, expenditure on the CAP tobacco regime was 863 million ecu (£507 million at 1985 exchange rates). There is no Community policy which would promote specific alternatives to tobacco production. This decision would be the responsibility of the individual grower. The Government are concerned to balance tobacco production with market demand, to reduce the overall cost of the regime and to ensure that the regime does not undermine efforts to reduce the incidence of disease and early death attributable to smoking. We have pursued our policy of reduced support with some success. This year's prices settlement provided further disincentives to produce less marketable varieties of tobacco, and prices and premia were (with one exception) either frozen or reduced by up to 6 per cent. We shall continue to pursue this policy in future price settlements.