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Common Agricultural Policy

Volume 115: debated on Thursday 7 May 1987

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on his policy towards seeking to reduce expenditure on the common agricultural policy in the light of the calculations of its cost to the average family contained in the recent evidence by the consumers in the European Community Group (UK) to the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities, a copy of which has been sent to him; and what is his Department's latest estimate of the cost of the common agricultural policy per average family.

[pursuant to his reply, 5 May 1987]: The Government's consistent pressure for a sustained policy of restrictive CAP prices has already brought significant results. Since 1979, the level of retail food prices in the United Kingdom has risen more slowly than the general level of prices, and of average earnings.Any estimate of the costs of the CAP can be attempted only if assumptions are made about the alternative policy that would be operated. It is inconceivable that agriculture would go unsupported in the absence of the CAP. Any estimate which does not take proper account of that cannot be realistic. I am not prepared to speculate about such a hypothetical situation.