HC Deb 22 April 1985 vol 77 cc607-8
6. Mr. Geraint Howells

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has any further plans to help dairy producers in Wales; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

The industry has already welcomed the measures announced on 28 March giving effect to a package of measures allowing greater flexibility in quota management. Over half—54 per cent.—of Welsh dairy producers will benefit from the measures taken to restore to base year 1983 levels quotas totalling less than 200,000 litres.

Mr. Howells

I am sure that the Secretary of State is well aware, although he will not admit it, that the outgoers scheme is a complete shambles and that the best thing his Government could do would be to scrap the scheme and start afresh. What advice can the Secretary of State give the dairy farmers of west Wales who are dependent upon the extra allocation of quota which is not now available to them?

Mr. Edwards

Far from being a complete shambles, the scheme will enable us to provide a quota for smaller producers at 1983 levels and also to deal with cases of hardship. It is because all the quota that we would like to include in the outgoers scheme is not included that on 15 April my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food announced that it would be reopened. Producers who did not apply in 1984, and those who did not accept the initial offer, will be able to apply. The scheme is to remain open until Friday 3 May 1985. 1 hope that it will provide additional quota. The more quota that we can obtain from the scheme, which has been continually criticised by the hon. Gentleman, who has alleged that in order to obtain this quota farms are having to be taken out of production, the better it will he for farmers. Some farms must be taken out of production in order to allocate quota to the many farmers who are in real difficulties.

Mr. Raffan

Will my right hon. Friend undertake to look into the particularly distressing case of Tom Stephenson of Sylvaen farm near Flint and get his Department to recognise that it was an implied term of the compensation agreement made with Mr. Stephenson that because of the effect of the Holywell bypass on his former farm his milk quota would be transferred to his new farm?

Mr. Edwards

As my hon. Friend knows, we have left these issues to be settled by the tribunal which has been established under the regulations. However, I shall look at the case that my hon. Friend has mentioned, especially as it apparently involves negotiations with my road department. We are considering very carefully whether further provision can be made to deal with those special hardship cases which do not fall within rules which have been applied so far by the tribunal.