HL Deb 24 February 1994 vol 552 cc57-8WA
Baroness Jeger

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their response to the report of the European Union Court of Auditors which criticised the high amount of export refunds paid in respect of tobacco grown in EU countries which had no real commercial value.

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

The Government have long criticised the tobacco regime. The European Court of Auditors report relates to the period prior to the 1992 reform of the regime. The European Commission indicated in their response to the report that export refunds were only paid on eligible products, and that the refunds themselves were less expensive than the alternative of taking tobacco into intervention. We are very pleased that export refunds, in all but exceptional circumstances, were abolished in the 1992 reform of the regime. We do not however think the reform went far enough and will continue to press for changes, including reducing the high level of support.