Oral Answers to Questions — Court of Session and High Court of Justiciary

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th March 1979.

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Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan The Prime Minister, Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 12:00 am, 14th March 1979

There are no insoluble problems in that sense. What is needed is the will. Frankly, until the meetings on Monday and Tuesday, I had not seen any dawning recognition that the will existed. Now, for the reasons that I have given, I believe that it may exist and that we shall get changes. I have high hopes in that direction.

As to the relative cost of storing surpluses and the old British system of deficiency payments, there are too many imponderables for us to make a calculation of that sort. We do not know what the level of world prices will be. We do not know what the prices of New Zealand and Australian produce will be. I do not think that it is much use making theoretical calculations of that sort.

What we know is that we are growing food to excess and selling it at a loss at the present time. That has already soured our trading relations with the United States and made for difficulties with Australia and New Zealand. It has prevented Fiji and Mauritius, and some of the West Indian islands, from selling us sugar which they could otherwise have sold more cheaply. There can be no defence of the present system, in my view, and I hope it will soon be corrected.