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European Economic Community

Volume 886: debated on Monday 10 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what effect her Department estimates Great Britain's membership of the EEC has had on prices and on the other consumer matters for which her Department is responsible.

While it is difficult to estimate the total effect of EEC membership on prices, prices of imported industrial goods from both the EEC and other parts of the world will be less because of reductions in tariffs; food prides are also at present slightly below what they would have been had we not been members. Community work on consumer protection is at an early stage, but I very much welcome the Commission's recent Programme for Consumer Protection and Information.

Will my right hon. Friend state her view whether the flexibility shown by our European partners in these matters will enable us to meet the manifesto commitment on them?

My hon. Friend will appreciate that there are still outstanding matters being negotiated and that we are anxious to see the common agricultural policy more flexible on such matters as direct national payments for agriculture and the variable beef premium. It is encouraging that in such matters as sugar and beef the EEC shows a degree of flexibility which I do not think it showed a year ago.

Will the Secretary of State give us an up-to-date indication of the main foodstuffs which are now cheaper because we are in the EEC than they would be if we kicked ourselves out?

I ask the hon. Gentleman to await a further Question on the Order Paper which deals precisely with that point.