HC Deb 14 July 1987 vol 119 cc407-8W
Mr. Boswell

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the outcome of the Council of Agriculture Minsters' meeting held in Luxembourg on Monday 13 July; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. MacGregor

I represented the United Kingdom at this meeting. The Council agreed, subject to the opinion of the European Parliament, on arrangements for the funding of agricultural expenditure from the Community budget. The decision implements the conclusions reached by Heads of Government at their meeting on 29 and 30 June that the present system of advance payments should be changed.

Instead of member states making guarantee payments to farmers and others after they have received funds from the Community budget, they will make the payments in advance, out of their own finances. There will be a delay of two months before member states are reimbursed from Community funds and this will have the effect of removing the budget deficit for agriculture in 1987. This system will continue until such time as final arrangements are made for the future financing of the Community.

1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987
January 1,461 107 71 5 53 337
February 201 189 56 315
March 415 146 2 16 332
April 296 13 89 139 211
May 353 21 26 114 324
June 340 37 51 154 506
July 269 47 214

Payments to farmers and other recipients will not be affected by the change.

It was important to establish that the adjustment of the advances system will result in no extra cost to the Community budget in 1988 and subsequent years, and this has been achieved. Provision is made for limited interest payments to be made in the short-term to certain member states.

This year's price fixing and budget are finally settled. We must continue to focus on finding longer term solutions to the problems of budgetary discipline in the interests of farmers and taxpayers as a whole. Britain has already put forward ideas which the Commission is considering.