HC Deb 14 January 1980 vol 976 cc677-8W
Mr. Leighton

asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether, further to his reply dated 19 November 1979, concerning the extra cost of food in the United Kingdom as a result of EEC membership, he will circulate in the Official Report a statement showing the quantities of sugar, beef and butter imported in 1978 under special arrangements; how those arrangements enabled the United Kingdom to obtain supplies at less than the world price plus the amount of the standard levy applicable to imports into the United Kingdom; and how the price actually charged by the preferred suppliers plus the preferred levy, if any, compares with the price charged on imports from other member States.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The quantities imported under special arrangements in 1978 were some 1.2 million tonnes of sugar, 125,000 tonnes of butter and 23,000 tonnes of beef.

All the arrangements involve reduced or nil rates of levy, which enable the supplier to sell in the United Kingdom market at prices lower than those of imports bearing the full rate of levy. After allowing for quality differences, the price of the preferential imports, including levy where appropriate, is in some cases comparable with that of imports from other member States, in other cases rather lower. The main effect of the special arrangements, however, is to give the preferential supplier a higher return than a non-preferential supplier could obtain; and it was this aspect which was taken into account in the reply to the hon. Member's earlier question.