HL Deb 13 June 1985 vol 464 cc1358-9

3.28 p.m.

Lord Denham

My Lords, it has been agreed through the usual channels that the Statement which is to be made by my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in another place this afternoon on the Agriculture Council on 11th and 12th June should, by leave of the House, be printed in the Official Report.

Following is the Statement referred to:

"I represented the United Kingdom, with my honourable friend the Minister of State, at the meeting of the Council of Agriculture Ministers on 11th and 12th June in Luxembourg.

"The Council resumed negotiations on prices for the 1985–86 season for cereals and rapeseed on the basis of a compromise which was before the Council on 13th to 16th May. The Commission submitted 10 draft regulations to give effect to this compromise, including the proposed reduction of 1.8 per cent. in common prices for these commodities. When the Presidency announced its intention to put these regulations to a vote, the German Minister said his Government were not prepared to accept the decrease in cereal prices. He formally invoked Paragraph II of the Luxembourg Compromise by saying that a very important national interest was involved for Germany and that negotiations must be continued until unanimous agreement was reached.

"I said in the Council that I had noted that the German Government supported the United Kingdom Government's view that where a member state declared a very important national interest, discussions in the Council should continue without a vote. Given the German Minister's statement, I said that, in accordance with our position on the Luxembourg Compromise, I had to object to a vote being taken and that I was not prepared to vote or abstain. The Ministers of Denmark, France, Greece and Ireland made similar statements. Nonetheless, the Presidency proceeded with a vote. These four member states, together with the United Kingdom, refused to record a vote. Germany also refused to participate in a vote. The regulations were therefore not adopted.

"I regret the fact that the Council has thus failed to take decisions on sensible price arrangements for cereals and rapeseed for the next season. This represents a serious setback to the progress which has been made in putting the CAP onto a more realistic basis. Careful thought will need to be given by the Agriculture Council and the Commission to the situation now confronting us.

"The rapeseed and durum wheat marketing years begin on 1st July and the marketing year for other cereals on 1st August. In the absence of agreement in the Council, the Commission will need to take decisions on how the markets should be managed.

"The Council failed to reach agreement on a draft directive covering intra-Community trade in heat treated milk. Nor was it able to resolve longstanding differences among member states on the authorisation of hormone growth promoters. However, agreement was reached on the text of a directive on control procedures for hormones. Its adoption was delayed pending further consideration of the substances to be authorised.

"Several other veterinary directives were adopted, including an important two-year extension of the special import arrangements which the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland are entitled to apply as a protection against swine fever."

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