Skip to main content

Sugar Beet

Volume 974: debated on Thursday 29 November 1979

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied with the projected A and B quotas for sugar beet for 1980 to 1981 for the United Kingdom.

No formal proposals have yet been tabled by the Commission. However, reports of what these proposals might be indicate discrimination against the United Kingdom and in such a form they would be unacceptable.

Does my hon. Friend accept that since the United Kingdom did not contribute to the surpluses—indeed, we did not even use our full A quota—we should not be penalised for the surpluses produced by France and West Germany?

That is precisely the issue that concerns us. We are especially concerned about the years of production on which it appears the Commission might base its proposals for quotas. They are years when, for weather and other reasons, production in Britain was at a much lower level than average.

Will the Minister bear in mind that the projected quota B for Britain is nil? Will he accept that sugar beet farmers will be reluctant to take up their full allocation unless they have a chance of getting at the B quota?

For the very reason that the hon. Gentleman has advanced, obtaining a fair share of the A quota is vital for our industry.

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the importance of the sugar beet industry to Norfolk and of how much resentment there will be if there is any unfair cutback of acreages in Britain alone?

Yes. Criticisms have been made to the effect that our industry is in some respects less efficient than that of other member States. Those criticisms fail to take account of the fact that when input is related to output, in economic terms we have an efficient sugar beet producing industry.

Much will depend upon the advice that the Minister is receiving about world trends leading to a sugar surplus or a deficit. As the British Sugar Corporation suggests, there may be a sugar deficit in due course. Is that the advice that the Minister is receiving?

We are taking advice from a number of quarters, as did our predecessors. Much of the advice is conflicting, on both sides of the argument. We shall come to a decision on our best consideration of the advice that is given.