Is the Chancellor of the Duchy aware that it is precisely because of these negotiations that discussions on development aid need to take place; because, as some of us stated at the time, the Commonwealth countries, particularly the sugar-producing areas, were sold down the river by the agreement that was then concluded? A further examination of the needs of those countries following the completion of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement in 1974 is urgently required.
I do not share the apprehensions to which the hon. Gentleman gives voice. The provisions made under Protocol 22 of the Treaty of Accession were exceedingly explicit, and I think that the discussions which took place at Lancaster House and which gave rise to the assurances which were given to the sugar-producing Commonwealth countries were widely accepted as being very relevant to their future situation.
Is my right hon. Friend taking steps to translate the bankable assurances which were given at the time of the negotiations into explicit undertakings by the beet sugar growers of Europe that they will not take over the main sugar market of the developing countries?
As I am sure my right hon. Friend knows, the intention is that these matters should be the subject of negotiations starting this year, and those negotiations will take place in the context of the very firm assurances which have been given both here and by the Community. I have little fear that those negotiations will give rise to an unsatisfactory outcome. However, they will take place as scheduled.
Though the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement talks are to take place next year, for the renewal beyond 1974, surely the Chancellor of the Duchy will agree that the most relevant and immediate decision is within the Community, on the size of the beet sugar acreage for which support prices will be given in the coming year. The House and all sugar-growing countries would like to know that the British Government and the Council of Ministers will ensure that there is no increase, and if possible a decrease if the examinations of the supply position justify it, in beet sugar acreage in Europe.
I believe that the critical question is that there should be a clear understanding, both in the Community and here, that it is the full intention to honour the undertakings given at the Lancaster House discussions. That is the full understanding both here and in the Community