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Ussr (Surplus European Community Produce)

Volume 978: debated on Thursday 14 February 1980

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what subsidised foods are now being exported by the EEC to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; and in what quantities.

No new subsidised exports to Russia of wheat, barley or bulk butter are at present being authorised and any current sales are being made under facilities granted before recent decisions. The Commission will, however, be opening tenders for the subsidised sale of intervention butter to Russia next month within traditional trade levels. We are totally opposed to this and voted against the proposal.

Does that mean that the Commission proposes to continue subsidised sales of food to the Soviet Union, even though the United States has banned grain exports? Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that that will be not merely opposed but vetoed by the British Government?

I must make it clear that the American Government have not banned wheat exports; they have banned any addition to their contractual obligations to wheat exports. Therefore, the view of the Council of Ministers on wheat was that only the traditional pattern should be followed and that no additional wheat should be exported to substitute for American supplies. Butter is a matter for the management committee. We voted against this proposal and will continue to do so.

Would my right hon. Friend care to speculate on what would happen to our own agricultural industry if the surpluses of Europe were dumped in this country, as Opposition Members seem to want?