asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what stage negotiations have reached on European agricultural prices for the coming year; and if he will make a statement.
I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave earlier to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. McQuarrie) and the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang).
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will estimate the level of exchequer support which would be required to maintain present agricultural price levels under a deficiency payment system.
I regret that I cannot offer a precise estimate as so much depends on the exact nature of the assumptions used. However, assuming that present levels of production and world prices obtained and no special import arrangements were made, the cost to the Exchequer of a nationally financed deficiency payment system with prices set halfway between existing producer and world prices, as the hon. Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) appears to be suggesting, would be about £1,000 million, while producers' returns would fall by around £1,000 million, equivalent to more than 80 per cent. of farming income in 1981.