Milk Quotas

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th December 1985.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Dr John Marek Dr John Marek , Wrexham 12:00 am, 19th December 1985

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a further statement on the impact of milk quotas in England and Wales.

Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

At the end of November total wholesale deliveries in England and Wales were about 2ยท5 per cent. below the Milk Marketing Board's quota projection. If this trend continues, no producer will be liable for levy on milk he supplies to the MMB. I hope that producers will take good note of this and make every effort to maximise uptake of our national quotas.

Photo of Dr John Marek Dr John Marek , Wrexham

In spite of the temporary underproduction compared with the quota, does the Minister accept that a further 3 per cent. cut across the board throughout the Common Market would be unfair to this country and lead to a further loss of jobs in our creameries? Has the right hon. Gentleman any new proposals for action within the Common Market over the flouting of its rules by countries such as France and Ireland? We religiously stick to what has been agreed.

Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

That is not an accurate statement of what has happened in the rest of the Community. We are discussing a further Community outgoers' scheme. We have the details and the scheme is before the Council. We have to make a decision. We are still talking about a considerable surplus of milk throughout the Community and we must put that right.

Photo of David Maclean David Maclean , Penrith and The Border

Does my right hon. Friend agree that Britain's milk output is as low as is desirable and that the only merit of the 3 per cent. reduction scheme is that it gives some rights to tenants? However, the amounts per cow are too generous and the knock-on effects in beef and other sectors would be disastrous.

Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

We have many real concerns about the proposals and my hon. Friend has mentioned some of his concerns. Clearly, we must argue those proposals out. However, it remains true that the Community does have a surplus of milk. If there is a surplus, the consumer pays through the tax system in the end.

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

Is the Minister aware that most of the dairy industry will be appalled by his answers? When will the Government face up to the disproportionate cuts in production and jobs that have taken place in Britain's dairy industry? Will the Government recognise that the proposed outgoers' scheme is likely to have a disproportionate effect in Britain? Many organisations, including the Dairy Trade Federation, have argued that case. When will the Government start saving jobs in the dairy industry?

Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

It seems that the hon. Gentleman, who represents a party which claims to be an internationalist party, has an odd view of the European Economic Community and the excellent way in which it seeks to solve the problems of agriculture across Europe.

Photo of Mr Colin Shepherd Mr Colin Shepherd , Hereford

Will my right hon. Friend reaffirm that if at the end of the milk year British producers have not produced up to quota there will be no question of the national quota being reduced in ensuing years?

Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

My hon. Friend is right. We are concerned to fight for a fair deal for Britain within the Community. In that case, it would obviously be wrong for the quota to be changed because we did not meet it this year for what may well be temporary reasons. However, it is to the advantage of the industry if it does produce up to quota. That is why my right hon. Friend the Minister has drawn that to the industry's notice.

Photo of Mr Brynmor John Mr Brynmor John , Pontypridd

Why do the cheese manufacturers complain that they cannot obtain enough milk to manufacture Cheddar cheese in Britain if, as the hon. Gentleman says, we are running short of our quota?

Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

The hon. Gentleman is right in that there have been complaints from some manufacturers. That is a matter for the Milk Marketing Board, which decides where the milk shall go. It is, in its view, the right way to do it. I am looking into this matter carefully because it would be quite wrong if there were any truth in that allegation.

Mr. Andy Stewart:

In 1984 we had a shortfall in milk output targets and we shall also have a shortfall this year. Is that not an indictment? Is it not high time that we had a scheme for transferring quotas between farmers?

Photo of John Gummer John Gummer Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

My hon. Friend is right to say that the quota system will not work effectively unless there is a reasonable degree of transferability between farmers. Britain has always stood for that. We are fighting hard in the Council to see that we get a sensible transfer scheme.