Intervention Board

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd July 1981.

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Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South 12:00 am, 23rd July 1981

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied with the efficiency of the United Kingdom intervention board for agricultural produce.

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

Obviously I cannot be satisfied with the efficiency of an intervention board where industrial action is taking place. But, with the exception of the adverse effects of the industrial action, I am satisfied with the efficiency of the intervention board.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

Is the Minister aware that last year the intervention board spent £500 million of taxpayers' money on dubious purposes of various kinds? For example, £42 million was spent on feeding surplus milk powder to animals. In particular, is he aware that £145 million was spent on exporting surplus British grain and dairy products to countries outside the EEC? As Britain is a net importer of both grain and dairy products, how can that be efficient?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

If the hon. Gentleman studied agriculture rather more closely, he would discover that there were a number of varieties of grain, some of which we need to import and some of which we need to export.

Photo of Mr John Wells Mr John Wells , Maidstone

Can my right hon. Friend give some assurance that the intervention board's attitude to the British apple industry will be more sound in the coming year?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

I can undertake that it will be as sound as it possibly can be.

Photo of Mr David Myles Mr David Myles , Banffshire

Will my right hon. Friend take steps to change the standards for intervention, so that we do not take all the best products into intervention and leave the rather inferior ones for the consumer?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

Intervention policy varies from one product to another. With regard to the whole intervention policy of Europe, we have been trying to stop, for example, the intervention of good meat which then deteriorates in intervention. We consider that to be an absurdity. We will always review such matters with that objective in mind.