Lords debate UK sugar consumers raw deal

30 May 2013

Following the publication of its short, follow-up inquiry into the EU’s Sugar Regime, the House of Lords will debate the EU Committee’s report, Leaving a bitter taste? The EU Sugar Regime, published last year, on Monday 3 June.

The September 2012 report followed the House of Lords Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment and Energy EU Sub-Committee’s report, Too Much or Too Little? Changes to the EU Sugar Regime, published in 2005, when reform of the regime was imminent.

The Committee’s latest report investigated the progress of the reform and looked into what measures would be necessary in future, prior to the EU finalising its position on the issue.  It concluded that the EU must do more to get UK consumers a better deal on sugar and also wanted to see more transparency and clarity in sugar pricing.

The Government have this week responded to the Committee’s follow-up report. The Committee have published the response on their webpage.  The Government welcome many of the Committee’s recommendations and commit to continuing to push for an outcome that puts European consumers at the heart of sugar policy. They set out recent work by the European Commission to investigate the sugar market, which included unannounced inspections within the last month at companies active in the sugar industry in several Member States. The UK’s Office of Fair Trading is assisting the Commission with its inquiries.

Chairman of the Committee, Lord Carter of Coles (Labour), who will open the debate, said:

“Having scrutinised this matter in 2005, the Committee felt that it was a sufficiently important issue to re-visit last year, in order to take stock of how the reform had progressed.

“We found that, even though the last set of reforms decreased the price of sugar in the EU for the growers and the producers, the cost of sugar to the consumer actually increased.  We believed that there needs to be much more clarity and transparency in the pricing process. Ultimately, consumers need to be at the heart of sugar policy rather than an afterthought.

“We also made recommendations that the production quotas in 2015 should be abolished; that import tariffs on raw and refined sugar should be eased and that the European Commission carefully monitors the disbursement of the funding that has been set aside to help lessen the impact of the 2006 reforms on developing countries to combat the delays that have been experienced thus far. We are pleased that the government’s response to the report supports our position on many of these issues and our debate next week will be a chance to press them on what they do now to ensure reform.

“Since we reported, there has been some progress on this issue in Brussels as is clear from the Government’s response. I look forward to discussing that progress and our report in the Chamber and hearing what other contributions this House can make to the debate.” 

Other Members scheduled to speak include:

  • Lord Knight of Weymouth (Labour), Opposition Spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and
  • Baroness Byford (Conservative), President of Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF).

The Earl of Caithness (Conservative) and Baroness Parminter (Liberal Democrat) are also expected to take part in the debate.

Lord De Mauley (Conservative) will respond on behalf of the Government.

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