HC Deb 04 June 1992 vol 208 c939
11. Mrs. Roe

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the current state of negotiations within the European Community on the subject of plant passports; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Curry

Under pressure from this Government, the Commission has undertaken to bring forward proposals in the near future.

Mrs. Roe

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his promotion and thank him for that reply. Is he aware of the concern of United Kingdom growers about the greater bureaucracy and cost implicit in the proposals? Can he give an assurance that they will not be disadvantaged by comparison with our European Community partners, in respect of the financing of the inspections required under the proposed plant health arrangements?

Mr. Curry

We intend this to be a measure of deregulation. The word "passport" can be misleading. There is no passport officer and no physical passport; the term refers to a mark that can be applied by the propagator himself. We intend the regime to be as light as possible, but we also want it to be applied as sensibly as possible and—this is most important—as universally as possible, so that we can ensure that we are on a level playing field.