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EU Sugar and Dairy Regimes

Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on reform of the EU (a) sugar and (b) dairy regimes. [87568]

Mr. Morley: The Government strongly supports reform of the CAP sugar regime, particularly in view of the increasing access for developing countries already agreed as part of the Everything But Arms initiative. The Council of Ministers is committed to a further review of the regime next year and we will be pressing for early decisions to allow for orderly adaptation to these more liberal trading arrangements, which will make the regime unsustainable in its present form. We also want the future regime to take account of the wider CAP Mid Term Review process on which negotiations are currently taking place.

With regard to the dairy regime, there have already been some moves towards reform under Agenda 2000—a 15 per cent. cut in support prices phased in from 2005 to 2007, with direct aid as compensation. However, this still leaves dairy support prices well above world levels, distorting both internal and external markets, and resulting in a continuing need for milk quotas (a

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financial burden to producers which rigidifies farming structures and the market) to contain budgetary expenditure.

The UK and other like-minded member states managed to secure a mid-term review of the milk quota system as part of the Agenda 2000 Agreement, under which Commission was charged with writing a report 'with a view to letting the current quota arrangements run out after 2006'. One of the four options in the report, which the Commission published in July, is for quota abolition in 2008.

We are now calling upon the Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal based on this option, which is the only one to fully meet thecommitments set out in the Agenda 2000 Agreement. In order to bring support prices closer to world levels, in preparation for quota abolition, we would favour bringing the Agenda 2000 price cuts forward to 2004, deepening them, and phasing them over four years, to 2007–08.

European Markets

Tony Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when there will be full and immediate access to European markets for exports from the least developed countries through the Everything But Arms Agreement; and if she will make a statement. [87574]

Mr. Morley: Least Developed Countries already have full duty and quota-free access to European markets for all goods except sugar, rice and bananas under the Everything But Arms Agreement. Duty and quota-free access for these three products is being phased in by 2006 in the case of bananas, and 2008–09 in the cases of sugar and rice.

Farm Products Levy

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government's policy is towards reintroduction of a levy scheme on agricultural farm products on a (a) compulsory and (b) voluntary basis. [87124]

Mr. Morley: The Government have no current plans to introduce new levies on agricultural farm products. However, the Government are preparing proposals for an animal disease levy as part of its consideration of how to achieve the right balance between partners in animal health as to how the costs are met.


Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total annual cost of the common agricultural policy was to (a) consumers and (b) taxpayers in the United Kingdom in the most recent year for which figures are available; what estimate she has made of the cost per person per week; and if she will break down the total cost to consumers by product. [86991]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 12 December 2002]: The consumer cost of the CAP can be estimated by considering the difference between UK prices and world prices on agricultural food products purchased by consumers. In 2000, the latest year for which UK figures

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are available, we estimate that the CAP cost UK consumers around #3.5 billion through higher prices. In the same year the UK taxpayer contribution to the CAP was approximately #3 billion.

The UK population in 2000 was 59.8 million, implying that the average cost of the CAP of #6.5 billion in total equates to just over #2 per person per week, or #8 to #9 pounds a week for a notional family of four.

The following table shows an approximate breakdown of consumer support between agricultural commodities. These estimates have, in the main, been compiled using the methodology utilised by the OECD to produce their estimates of the consumer support estimate. It should be noted that the aggregate estimates will be more robust than estimates for the individual commodities. It is particularly difficult to determine the appropriate gap between UK and world prices for products whose specification varies, such as fruit and vegetables, or pigs, eggs and poultry. Although there is no significant internal regime governing the production of pigs, eggs and poultry, the EU has import tariffs in place, leading to increased costs for consumers.

Breakdown of consumer support between agricultural commodities

CommodityCost (# million)
Sugar beet300
Beef and veal580
Pigs, eggs and poultry920
Fruit and vegetables430

Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farmers received total payment from the common agricultural policy of less than #500 in the last 12 months for which figures are available. [87297]

Mr. Morley: In the 12 months ending June 2002, 20,000 claimants received less than #500 each in total direct grants and subsidies under the common agricultural policy in England. The payment of direct grants and subsidies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was the responsibility of the devolved Authorities in that period. In addition, 35,000 claimants throughout the UK each received payments of less than #500 in total as part of the market support measures of the CAP, for which traders as well as farmers are eligible. The figures exclude any compensation received for animals slaughtered during the FMD crisis for reasons of disease control or animal health. We are unable to identify the total payments received by any individual or business making applications using more than one name.


Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many licences were granted for bass fisheries in south west waters in (a) 2000, (b) 2001 and (c) 2002; and how many have been granted for 2003. [87494]

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Mr. Morley: Separate licences are not issued for bass. It may be caught and landed by any fishing vessel with a Category A, B or C licence, subject to compliance with the catch restrictions set out in the licence. There are some 1,200 vessels with such licences currently based in the south west.

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) the total number of days at sea and (b) the total kilowatts of engine power was for vessels over 10 metres in length targeting (i) cod, haddock and whiting, (ii) plaice and sole, (iii) hake, (iv) megrim and anglerfish and (v) sand eel and Norway pout in (A) North Sea, (B) West Scotland (C) Irish Sea and (D) ICES sub-area VII in (1) 1998, (2) 1999 and (3) 2000. [87808]

Mr. Morley: The information requested is not readily available and can only be produced through the compilation of data held separately on computer systems operated by UK fisheries departments. As such an answer at the current time could be obtained only at inappropriate cost and effort. However, a separate larger exercise is currently being carried out to combine these sets of information, which will allow an answer to be provided by mid-January 2003.

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will invite the Fishermen's Association Ltd. to participate in future discussions on fisheries. [87809]

Mr. Morley: The European Commission proposed that, under the current review of the Common Fisheries Policy, new Regional Advisory Councils will set up to advise on fisheries issues. It is too early to say who will be represented on these bodies.


Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action she (a) has taken and (b) will be taking to prevent flooding in the Hatch End area of the Harrow, West constituency; and if she will make a statement. [87884]

Mr. Morley: Defra provides funding to operating authorities for flood and coastal defence capital works that meet technical, economic and environmental criteria and achieve an appropriate priority score. However responsibility for deciding which projects to promote and their timing rests with the operating authorities, in this case the Environment Agency.

I understand the Agency has completed a review of the original study for the Hatch End area and plans to carry out a flood alleviation scheme starting in 2004 subject to planning permission and land agreements being secured. The Agency has yet to submit an application for funding to Defra.

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assistance she will give to the Environment Agency in the event of large-scale floods. [88298]

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Mr. Morley: DEFRA has policy responsibility for flood and coastal defence in England. Operational responsibility for flooding from main rivers and the sea rests with the Environment Agency. The Agency is also responsible for flood warning arrangements and exercises a general supervision over all matters relating to flood defence.

The Environment Agency takes the lead in the case of large scale flooding and manages the response in conjunction with local authorities and the police. Should a request be made for additional funding, this would be considered in the light of the circumstances pertaining and a decision made accordingly.

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Following the Autumn 2000 floods, additional funding was given to the Agency.

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