Mr. Andy Stewart
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Agriculture Council on 10 to 11 February.
§ Mr. Gummer
I represented the United Kingdom at this meeting of the Council together with my hon. Friend the Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry), Parliamentary Secretary in my Department, and my noble Friend Lord Strathclyde, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland.
Discussion concentrated on the Commission's proposals for CAP reform. The Portuguese presidency presented a new compromise paper which may have moved matters forward by a small amount, but major divergencies of view remain. I was one of several Ministers who said that they would not be able to come to final decisions until the outcome of the current GATT round were known. Otherwise I maintained the United Kingdom position on the lines I have explained to the House on several occasions. Discussion will resume at the next meeting of the Council starting on 2 March.
The Commissioner said that he would bring forward a package of structural proposals, which were intended to help the Community's soft fruit industry. This follows the representations I have made about the difficulties caused for the United Kingdom industry by low-priced imports from eastern Europe.