§ Mr. Nicholas Baker
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will seek to renegotiate the terms of the subsidy paid by the European Economic Community to sugar producers with a view to reducing the price of sugar to commercial beekeepers and others within the European Economic Community; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Gummer
No subsidy as such is paid to Community sugar producers although refunds funded mainly by levies on producers apply to exports of surplus quota sugar to third countries. Previous Community schemes to provide reduced price sugar to beekeepers have not been cost effective, resulting in high unit administrative costs and little increase in sugar consumption, with less than 2 per cent. of the subsidised sugar under the last scheme being used in the United Kingdom. Moreover, the denaturing of the sugar required to prevent abuse has created problems for beekeepers. We therefore have no plans to press the Commission to introduce another such scheme. We do, however, support price restraint in the sugar sector and I am pleased to say that, over the last three years' price fixings, the effective support price for white sugar in the United Kingdom has increased by a total of only 2.1 per cent., which represents a substantial reduction in real terms.