Foodstuffs (Storage)

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th May 1976.

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Photo of Mr Doug Hoyle Mr Doug Hoyle , Nelson and Colne 12:00 am, 6th May 1976

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the cost of storing foodstuffs, as required by the CAP, for the latest period for which figures are available.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

Total payments for handling and storing commodities sold into intervention in the United Kingdom since 1st February 1973 have amounted to approximately £1·4 million. These payments have largely been reimbursed from the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund.

Photo of Mr Doug Hoyle Mr Doug Hoyle , Nelson and Colne

What is the rate of storage of beef, butter and powdered milk per week? Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is being stored at the expense of the British housewife? Does not this justify the campaign of those of us who fought against the Common Market?

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

I do not think that it does so at all. Intervention worked in this country in many areas of agricultural production under a Labour Government, when I was Minister previously, and it worked under the great Tom Williams. Intervention is not a new concept. What I have tried to explain to some of my hon. Friends is that we do not regard permanent intervention in the beef sector as a correct method of support. For that reason I negotiated a variable premium system with a limited form of intervention, and it will work.

Photo of Dr Winnie Ewing Dr Winnie Ewing , Moray and Nairn

In order to reduce the milk surplus in the EEC, will the right hon. Gentleman try to impress upon his colleagues in the Council of Ministers that this might be a very good time to have a milk-in-schools scheme, across the board, in all EEC countries?

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

That matter has been considered, but hon. Members must realise that for some countries in the Community—not us; I am thinking specifically of France and Germany—the price award means a cut in real terms.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that intervention has a part to play, but does he agree that it is a very expensive system? Is there not abundant evidence of a good many rackets in intervention—for example, beef carcases that have been slaughtered in this country going to the Continent and being moved from one country to another, eventually going into intervention in a country far away from their origin? Has that situation been considered by the Ministers when they have met? If so, what do they intend to do about it?

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

Such matters have been considered. Of course, people try various dodges and it is often difficult to trace the person concerned. We are aware that there is a problem, and naturally we are trying to stamp it out.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

I revert to the cost of storage. Will my right hon. Friend tell us whether the proposed storage scheme for protein will be a charge on the Exchequer or on the consumer? Will he clarify the present position concerning that directive and its costs to the House now?

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

The protein scheme is now being further considered, as my hon. Friend knows. I cannot give him a specific answer.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the present system and procedure of beef intervention is highly unsatisfactory for meat manufacturers? Will he give the House an assurance that he will consider the criticisms that are submitted to him by the industry?

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

I shall, but I think that the system for beef, with limited intervention, has worked. We had a little difficulty recently and I took immediate action, as I explained earlier The same applied in Northern Ireland, and I took urgent action.

Photo of Mr Francis Pym Mr Francis Pym , Cambridgeshire

Is it possible for the deposits on proteins to be recovered? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that up to a week or 10 days ago it was not possible for those who put down their deposits to recover them?

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

I cannot answer the right hon. Gentleman specifically. As I have said, this matter is being reconsidered.