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Common Agricultural Policy

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th May 1995.

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Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West 12:00 am, 4th May 1995

My hon. Friend is right. The history of British food production is entirely different from that in most of continental Europe. We have had a long tradition, going right back to the repeal of the corn laws, of fundamentally free trade in food, and the 1840s, 1850s and 1860s saw the departure from the land of a large number of people who had worked it. In many countries in Europe, that process has yet to be undertaken and there is a completely different land-holding structure as a result. My hon. Friend is right to say that we often find ourselves defending somewhat different interests from the rest of Europe.