The current rate of levy, including the MCA, on imports into the United Kingdom of beef ranges from 11p to 74p per pound. For butter it is 50p per pound, and for Cheddar cheese 56·5p per pound. But, as my hon. Friend knows, all the cheese and almost all the beef and butter imported into the Community comes in under preferential arrangements at substantially reduced, or nil, rates of levy.
My hon. Friend must have failed to listen to my answer, and, if so, I hope that he will read it tomorrow, because I pointed out to him that all the cheese and almost all the beef and butter imported into the Community comes in under preferential arrangements.
I should like to put back the question to the right hon. Gentleman. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] What system would he recommend under which he would hope to ensure a fair deal and security of good supplies to the consumers of this country which at the same time would maintain a healthy agriculture industry? I believe that the present arrangements do that.
Do the Government support the first proposal made by the Commission for the reform of the common agricultural policy, which is that Community food prices shall, over a period of years, fall to world prices?
That precise proposal is not made, but, as my hon. Friend will know, in all the price fixing with which my right hon. Friend and I have been concerned we have endeavoured to exercise restraint on price increases.
No, and, as the hon. Gentleman knows, we also obtain from Europe a number of other measures—for example, in the beef premium scheme, in the lamb premium scheme and in relation to the butter subsidy—whereby prices in the United Kingdom are helped out of Community funds.