Intervention Butter

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th March 1983.

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Photo of Mr Edwin Wainwright Mr Edwin Wainwright , Dearne Valley 12:00 am, 17th March 1983

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many tonnes of intervention butter in the European Community are in store at the latest available date.

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

There are 229,723 tonnes of butter held in intervention stores in the European Community according to the most recent data provided by the Commission.

Photo of Mr Edwin Wainwright Mr Edwin Wainwright , Dearne Valley

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the total will probably be 600,000 tonnes by the end of the year? What will he do with the surplus? Is he aware that our top 5,000 farms produce 30 per cent. of the butter that is produced in this country and receive approximately 30 per cent. of the subsidies? Is he further aware that most of those farms belong to millionaire farmers? Have they the support of the Tory party? Why does not the right hon. Gentleman do something about that?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

The hon. Gentleman's analysis of the dairy industry is wrong. He is mixing cereal production with dairy production, and the figures for dairy production are very different. At present we have 54 days' supply of butter. I do not share his view on estimates for the end of the year, because a range of imponderables could vary production and consumption performance.

Photo of Mr Geraint Howells Mr Geraint Howells , Cardigan

Will the Minister try to persuade his counterparts in Europe to sell butter surpluses to the Third world, not to the Russians?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

Yes, Sir. I shall also encourage them, as I already have, to increase consumption in Europe. That is why I am glad that the butter subsidy is now double what it was when the Government came to power.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Wandsworth Battersea North

What tonnage of this subsidised butter will be exported by the EC this year as food aid to the Soviet Union?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

That will depend on the tendering position. As yet, the Soviet Union has put in no tenders.

Photo of Mr Eric Deakins Mr Eric Deakins , Waltham Forest Walthamstow

Is it not disgraceful that the Common Market is selling butter to the Soviet Union at three times the subsidy at which that butter is available to the British housewife? Does the Minister agree that, as milk production has increased, despite price restraint in recent years, stronger measures are needed to reduce milk production?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

As a result of the much tougher stance of the Government, the intervention price of milk has decreased in real terms by 17 per cent. since 1979. I am glad to say that for almost two years we have stopped exports to Russia altogether. We are waiting to see the Soviet Union's tender, but both the British and German Governments remain opposed to such exports.