Outgoers Scheme

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th April 1986.

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Photo of Mr David Knox Mr David Knox , Staffordshire Moorlands 12:00 am, 10th April 1986

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he hopes to announce the details of the European Economic Community outgoers scheme which the Commission has proposed; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Michael Jopling Mr Michael Jopling , Westmorland and Lonsdale

Discussions on the proposals for a Community outgoers scheme are continuing in the Council of Agriculture Ministers.

Photo of Mr David Knox Mr David Knox , Staffordshire Moorlands

Will my right hon. Friend say what plans he has for tenants at the end of their tenancies?

Photo of Mr Michael Jopling Mr Michael Jopling , Westmorland and Lonsdale

As my hon. Friend will know, under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 tenants are entitled to compensation in recognition of the value of improvements they have made on the holding. At the same time, it seems reasonable that they should also receive some recognition of the contribution they have made to the milk quota allocated to the holder. There is a later question on the Order Paper on this subject, but I can say that we are tabling an amendment to the Agriculture Bill today to provide for that.

Photo of Mr Richard Livsey Mr Richard Livsey , Brecon and Radnor

Does the Minister agree that at least a 50–50 split between tenants and landlords as to the allocation of milk quota in the outgoers scheme would be the right move?

Photo of Mr Michael Jopling Mr Michael Jopling , Westmorland and Lonsdale

It would be a mistake to start talking about percentages in these terms, because circumstances vary enormously from individual to individual. In general, we should leave the detailed discussions on these matters to arbitrators.

Photo of Mr Robert Hicks Mr Robert Hicks , South East Cornwall

Will my right hon. Friend give the House an assurance that under the amendment that he tables later today the arbitration process will provide no built-in structural advantage to either the landlord or the tenant?

Photo of Mr Michael Jopling Mr Michael Jopling , Westmorland and Lonsdale

We have had discussions with the representative bodies, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers, on how this form of arbitration might be worked. We have made our proposals on the basis of those discussions.

Photo of Mr Thomas Torney Mr Thomas Torney , Bradford South

Will the Minister tell the House whether the Commission's discussions on the outgoers scheme covered the workers in the farming, dairy distributive and processing industries? The workers in those industries have been made unemployed and creameries have been shut down. There is a great difference in redundancy payments for people who will probably never get another job because of the Government's policies on employment.

Photo of Mr Michael Jopling Mr Michael Jopling , Westmorland and Lonsdale

I am aware that the hon. Gentleman has raised the question of redundancy payments for dairy industry workers over a period of time. I have listened to him, but I have to tell him that when the dairy industry was discussed in the Council of Ministers that particular aspect of the matter was not considered

Photo of Mr John Farr Mr John Farr , Harborough

Will the amendment which my right hon. Friend will table today contain references to the matters which arbitrators should and should not take into account when they come to their conclusions?

Photo of Mr Michael Jopling Mr Michael Jopling , Westmorland and Lonsdale

My hon. Friend will see from the amendment that an attempt has been made to give arbitrators the parameters within which they may work.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson , East Lothian

It is deplorable that the redundancy rights of employees in the dairy industry were not discussed in the Council of Ministers. Will the Minister say more about the Government's attitude towards compensation for tenants and the right of tenants to a fair share of the value of their milk quota? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we would oppose any settlement which gave tenants less than 50 per cent. of the value of their quota?

Photo of Mr Michael Jopling Mr Michael Jopling , Westmorland and Lonsdale

With regard to discussions in the Council of Ministers, although I have many responsibilities, I cannot be responsible—although, at the time, I was temporarily presiding over the Council of Ministers—for what Ministers from other Community countries seek to raise.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

The right hon. Gentleman could have raised it.

Photo of Mr Michael Jopling Mr Michael Jopling , Westmorland and Lonsdale

This was the first and only occasion on which we had discussed the details of the Commission's proposed outgoers scheme, and redundancy rights of dairy workers were not raised in the course of the discussion.

On his second question, the hon. Member should not get too tied into specific figures with regard to this form of compensation. There is a huge range of different situations, all of which must be treated on their individual merits by the arbitrators at the time.

Photo of David Heathcoat-Amory David Heathcoat-Amory , Wells

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the depth of feeling among west country tenant farmers that the present proposals do not adequately recognise their contribution to farming units? Does my right hon. Friend agree that, under his present proposals, the average tenant would receive only about a third of the available compensation? Surely that is inadequate and should not be approved.

Photo of Mr Michael Jopling Mr Michael Jopling , Westmorland and Lonsdale

We have not yet tabled an amendment, although we shall do so later today. My hon. Friend should think in terms of the burden being put on the ingoing tenant who follows a tenant who received substantial compensation. That is all part of the equation. It is a mistake to attach specific figures, because there will be a wide range of levels of compensation once the arbitrators have done their work.