Agriculture Reform

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd November 1990.

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Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Southend East 12:00 am, 22nd November 1990

To ask the Prime Minister if she will raise at the next meeting of the European Council the implications of the agricultural reform plans agreed by the Agriculture Council on 6 November.

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I raised this matter at the last European Council meeting. The Government have played a central role in supporting the European Commission's proposals and enabling the Community to table its offer at the talks in Geneva.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Southend East

Will the Prime Minister confirm that jobs and prosperity in Britain and throughout Europe may be seriously affected by an international trade war unless the EEC produces a meaningful reform of the absurd and costly common agricultural policy? Will she remind the bright chaps now standing for election that the average cost per household of the CAP is now £5·20 per week more than the total net cost per household of the poll tax?

Finally, will the Prime Minister accept the good wishes and gratitude of all Conservatives in Southend, East for the fantastic job that she has done for common sense, freedom and democracy?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I very much agree with my hon. Friend. Jobs and prosperity depend on obtaining freer trade and we played a prominent part in that recently at the last meeting of the European Council and in the tabling of proposals to GATT.

I will, of course, respond to my hon. Friend's invitation to remind my colleagues who are standing for election, but let me say this to him: I shall remind them whether they are standing for election or not.

Photo of Dr Norman Godman Dr Norman Godman , Greenock and Port Glasgow

With regard to the decisions made at that meeting, does the Prime Minister agree that it is essential for our hill farmers to be given the protection that they so manifestly deserve? In the light of assurances that she has given me in the past, does she also agree that those decisions contain an awful, serious warning for our fishermen vis-a-vis the changes that the Spanish and others wish to inflict on the common fisheries policy? If she will not be here to defend our fishermen, will she urge her successor also to be worthy of our defence?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I think that, for once, I can agree with the hon. Gentleman. Our hill farmers are vital to the health and the whole structure of those areas. We have tried to increase the grants available to them because we have recognised their importance not only to farming but to the rural areas.

The fisheries question has always been one of the most difficult in the Community. So far, we have had a pretty good deal for our fishermen and we shall continue to work for that. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the vital question of fishing boats is pending and many people will be happier when that has been resolved, preferably to our advantage.

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

Will my right hon. Friend accept from me the love and affection of millions of people in my part of the world who over the years have looked to her with the greatest admiration and delight?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I am especially grateful to receive that message from my hon. Friend. We were at college together, and I think that we have been together ever since.