HC Deb 05 December 1974 vol 882 cc1930-1
17. Mr. Michael Marshall

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is satisfied with the arrangements of payments to farmers by the Milk Marketing Board.

Mr. Bishop

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Marshall

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Chairman of the Milk Marketing Board has called on milk producers to produce extra milk during the winter months and that this appeal comes at a time when the banks are seeking extra security because of the falling value of cows? In those circumstances, will he consult the board to see whether Government assistance and encouragement could help in the way of advance payments from the board or in guaranteeing overdrafts in these difficult circumstances?

Mr. Bishop

The measures announced on 3rd October were designed to increase the milk producers' return from 1st October for six months. The decisions of the Milk Marketing Board accorded with the terms and intentions of that statement. The chairman of the board welcomed the Government's announcement, and we think that it will help substantially. As for the future, that is a matter for the annual price review, which is now under way.

Mr. Hicks

Does not the Minister agree that he is obliged to tell the milk producers when they are likely to know what will happen from 1st April 1975?

Mr. Bishop

There is no difference between us here. We recognise the need for milk producers to have some idea of the future, but also, because of our membership of the Common Market, we cannot make a statement before negotiations are concluded. We hope to know something about that by the end of January or February next year.