HL Deb 23 November 1992 vol 540 cc58-9WA
Lord Brougham and Vaux

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the outcome of the Agriculture Council held on 16th and 17th November.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe)

My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food chaired this meeting of the council at which my honourable friend the Minister of State in the department represented the United Kingdom.

The council discussed the GATT Uruguay Round and the EC/US oilseeds dispute in the light of well publicised, negative comments from some parts of the Community. Following a vigorous discussion my right honourable friend was able to record unanimous agreement in the council that the commissioner should negotiate with the United States consistently with the conclusions of the recent Birmingham summit. These provide for the Commission to be instructed actively to pursue a settlement. I understand negotiations resumed yesterday.

The council agreed a 7 per cent. devaluation of the green pound to take effect immediately. This is a necessary step since charges on intra-community trade, like monetary compensatory amounts, will not be possible in the single market from 1st January 1993, and the knowledge that green and market rates will be aligned by that date was acting as an incentive to speculation. The move will be widely welcomed by British farmers; when fully worked through it will add less than 1 per cent. to the food price index.

The council also agreed the principal regulation on the control of payments under the reformed CAP. This is a major step toward combating the possibility of fraud in the new system.