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Volume 889: debated on Tuesday 8 April 1975

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the disposal of the millions of gallons of wine surplus and unsaleable within the EEC owing to the operation of the common agricultural policy; and what the estimated cost of disposal will be to the British taxpayer.

The present surplus of wine in the Community arises from a succession of bumper harvests due to unusually favourable weather, and these have put considerable strain on the marketing mechanisms in this sector. As a means of disposing of surplus wine the common wine policy provides for aid towards the cost of distillation of surplus wine for disposal as alcohol. In 1975 the Community has so far agreed to subsidise the distillation of 101 million gallons of surplus wine at a cost of some £16 million, within the European Agricultural Guarantee and Guidance Fund's budget provision for this purpose of £17·7 million. The United Kingdom contribution is made to the Community Budget as a whole and represents 13·57 per cent. in 1975.The Council of Ministers will be reviewing the situation later this month and also examining proposals for revising the Community's wine regime. The Government's objective in these discussions will be to secure a sound long-term balance between supply and demand for wine coupled with economy and efficiency in the management of the wine market.