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Volume 178: debated on Wednesday 24 October 1990

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) whether the United Kingdom Government intend to support in the European Council the transfer of an additional £200 million European currency units to the tobacco sector of the EAGGF;(2) whether the United Kingdom Government supported the 1989 Council decision to transfer an additional £165 million European currency units to the tobacco sector of the EAGGF.

In 1989 the costs of the tobacco regime were higher than originally estimated partly because of agrimonetary movements but mainly because production levels and intervention stocks were greater than forecast when the budget was fixed in 1988. As the expenditure was legitimately incurred within the rules for that sector, the budgetary authority—the Council and the European Parliament—agreed to regularise the situation in this and other sectors by transferring funds from sectors which had underspent. Overall, the 1989 FEOGA budget was underspent, after these adjustments, by some 2·4 billion ecu. Similar transfers from underspending sectors within the 1990 FEOGA budget to cover legitimate expenditure in other sectors, including tobacco, have recently been agreed.The United Kingdom has long been critical of the EC tobacco regime and the expenditure which it incurs and has consistently pressed for improvements. The Commission is currently conducting a review of the regime and we shall be arguing for substantive change.