European Community (Agriculture and Milk)

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st March 1978.

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Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East 12:00 am, 21st March 1978

I agree that that was the peak price. I do not think that I am making a point to which the hon. Gentleman would object.

There has been a complete turn-round in the position regarding sugar over the last four years. There was a serious sugar crisis. The hon. Gentleman will no doubt recall the representations made in the House for sugar rationing in 1974. There has been a complete transformation. There is a structural surplus in the Community. There is no question but that the Community is right to propose a restrictive price increase of just over 1 per cent. We are supported in that decision by the Scrutiny Committee. We do not believe that there is any justification for a price increase on any commodity when there is a clear structural surplus.

Last year there was a proposal by the Commission to reduce the sugar B quota. The United Kingdom argued forcibly that that proposal should remain in the package. Finally, largely in response to pressure by the French, it was withdrawn, and that exacerbated the position. The Commission has again proposed a reduction in the B quota. We are determined this time to see that the reduction goes through.

I turn now to the livestock sector—first, pigmeat.