asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the cost since its inception to date of the levies under the common agricultural policy on imported food; how this compares with the cost of the deficiency payment scheme over a similar period of time; and what is the cost comparison between the two at constant prices.
The effect of the system of import levies in the cost of food can be estimated only in broad terms. For 1979, its effect is put at 8 to 10 per cent. on food prices, equivalent to around £2 billion of consumers' expenditure.Average expenditure on deficiency payments during the seven financial years ending 1972–73 was £117 million per year equivalent to £392 million at October 1979 prices. However, this figure does not necessarily bear any relation to what the cost of a deficiency payments system would have been if it has operated under the different economic conditions prevailing during the last seven years; nor did that system when it operated, give consumers access to all foods at the equivalent of world prices.