In my reply on 7 December 1982 to the question from my hon. Friend the Member for Devon, West (Sir P. Mills), I gave details of expenditure by the intervention board in 1981–82 and of forecast expenditure for 1982–83. Since then the forecast for 1982–83 has increased by 5·5 per cent.
In view of that staggering increase in one year, does the Minister agree with Commissioner Tugendhat's assertion that the EC is losing control of spending on agricultural support? Does he further agree that the continued rise in spending on agricultural support is likely to bust the EC? What further taxes does he intend to levy on consumers to make up the deficit?
The Government's attitude is that this is a time for prudent price fixing. Mr. Tugendhat's remark was made to the European Parliament, which was urging substantial increases on the Commission's price fixing proposals. He was correct to say that that would be a dangerous step.
Will the Minister comment on the ability to subsidise cereal farmers but not pig farmers, with regard to the intervention board expenditure to which he has just referred? Is he aware that in 1979–80 £40 million was expended on intervention for cereals, but in the forthcoming year the estimate is nearly £400 million—10 times as much? Will he do something about that extension of public expenditure, to which the Government are opposed?
As the hon. Gentleman knows, cereal stocks remain valuable and do not deteriorate in store. The United States, among many other western countries, has massive stocks of grain that it considers viable and sensible. As my right hon. Friend has made clear, there are subsidies and substantial export restitutions for pig producers.