HC Deb 14 March 1985 vol 75 cc422-3
6. Mr. Steen

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he last met the chairman of the English Vineyards Association; and what subjects were discussed.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mrs. Peggy Fenner)

Ministers from this Department have not met the chairman of the English Vineyards Association, but this Department is in regular touch with the association.

Mr. Steen

I hope that my hon. Friend will arrange to meet the chairman of the English Vineyards Association. Is she aware that English wine comes from English grapes grown in the 200 or so commercial vineyards in this country, whereas the only thing British about British wine is the water added to imported syrup or grape must? When she meets the chairman, will she tell him what she intends to do to ensure that the British public are not continually deceived into thinking that they are being patriotic by buying British wine, just because of misleading wine labelling?

Mrs. Fenner

I must disagree with my hon. Friend in that respect. It is for local authorities and the courts to decide whether the public are being misled and whether labels comply with food labelling regulations and the Trade Descriptions Act. My hon. Friend will know that the labelling of British wine is covered by a voluntary code of practice to prevent confusion with English wine from English vineyards. The labels on British wine are marked, "Made from imported grape juice."

Sir Peter Mills

Does my hon. Friend realise that there is no wine lake in Devon, and that the growing of grapes might prove to be a good alternative crop while we have surpluses in other things? Just as we in Devon produce the finest cider, we might also produce some Chateau Devon.

Mrs. Fenner

In 1984, English wine production was about 1,350,000 litres from 325 hectares. Another 106 hectares have been planted out but are not yet producing. Perhaps my hon. Friend should be sorry that there are not any in Devon.