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Volume 79: debated on Thursday 16 May 1985

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take steps to allow greater freedom for United Kingdom exporters to export their products throughout the European Community.

The Government continually seek to ensure that our exporters of agricultural and food products can compete on fair terms in markets throughout the European Community.

While understanding what my hon. Friend is saying, and bearing in mind that there are problems with milk imports and disease, may I ask whether she agrees that 'it is about time we made a determined effort to have far more freedom and to stop all the restrictions on British food exports to the Community — especially the clawback on beef, and even the sheepmeat regime? Is it not about time that the subsidy that the Republic of Ireland is receiving for its exports to this country was ended?

My hon. Friend will have heard my hon. Friend the Minister of State comment on the Eire position. Exports have risen since the sheepmeat regime was introduced and they are now back to the level of the mid-1970s. I agree that the clawback still inhibits us from taking full advantage of what should be a common market, and we are continuing to press for improvements.