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Agricultural Prices

Volume 77: debated on Thursday 18 April 1985

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asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what consideration he is giving to the interests of consumers and taxpayers in the farm price review negotiations; and if he will make a statement.

I have regard to all United Kingdom interests, including those of consumers and taxpayers, in the negotiations on CAP prices.

Is not the best way to dispose of Common Market and our own surpluses to lower their prices and make it possible for people to purchase them? Furthermore, with the accession of Spain and Portugal to the Common Market, will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to protect our taxpayers' interests, because enormous sums of money will be needed to bring the Spanish and Portuguese agriculture and fishing industries into line wih EC regulations? Will he make sure that we do not pay more than our fair whack?

With respect to the hon. Gentleman, the accession of Spain and Portugal is rather wider than his question. The Government have consistently pressed for a more realistic pricing policy under the CAP. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that CAP prices were reduced in 1984 for the first time and that within the past six years consumers have had an infinitely better deal than they had under the Labour Government, when, in five years, food prices rose by 117 per cent.