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European Community

Volume 949: debated on Tuesday 2 May 1978

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Q3.

asked the Prime Minister when he next expects to meet the EEC Heads of Government.

I expect to meet the Heads of Government of some of the member States of the EEC at the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Washington on 30th and 31st May. I shall also be attending a meeting of the European Council in Bremen on 6th and 7th July.

Does the Prime Minister remember his promise that there would be a fundamental reform of the common agricultural policy? As the British taxpayer will soon be paying about £1,000 million a year, net, into the Common Market budget, and with British food production at a lower level than it was five years ago, will he admit that he has totally broken that promise to the British people?

The common agricultural policy has been changing throughout the lifetime of this Government, beginning with the original premiums in respect of beef which were introduced some time ago, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture is fighting for further changes now. That ought to have the approval, not the censure, of the hon. Gentleman, especially as we are trying to keep down the structural surpluses which are disfiguring Continental agriculture at the present time.

When my right hon. Friend next meets the EEC Heads of State, will he discuss with them how they can bring pressure to bear to modify the hard-line stance of Israel on the Middle East negotiations and give further support to President Sadat's initiative?

I shall certainly see whether there is any desire to discuss this matter at the next meeting of the European Council, but it is rather a long way away—6th and 7th July. I hope that the discussions that President Carter is now about to have with Prime Minister Begin and the further discussions that may take place between Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat will lead to some movement and progress on this matter before we meet in July.

If the Prime Minister is going to boast that he will prevent the Common Market from not allowing daily doorstep deliveries of milk, when he knows perfectly well that the Common Market has no intention of stopping them, will he be careful not to remind his Common Market colleagues of the way in which he once boasted that he would prevent British trawlers from being chased out of Icelandic waters?

I was not aware that I had boasted about anything of that sort. As for the Milk Marketing Board—I hope that the Opposition are in agreement—we should not allow ourselves to be driven to make fundamental alterations to the Board. That is exactly what the Minister of Agriculture is trying to do now.

In regard to the Prime Minister's earlier answer, does he accept that all on the Government side of the House will warmly welcome the firm statement of good will towards the Soviet Union that he made, reaffirming that it is the intention of the Labour Party to pursue with the utmost vigour the whole question of nuclear disarmament—