HC Deb 17 October 1994 vol 248 c7
5. Mr. Llwyd

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what initiatives he is bringing forward to assist the Welsh cheese industry; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gwilym Jones

Grant aid and advice is available to the Welsh cheese industry from the Welsh Office and its agencies and from Welsh Food Promotion Ltd.

Mr. Llwyd

I am not encouraged by that answer. Is the Minister aware that there is a crisis in the dairy industry in Wales? Recently, the price of milk has gone up by 3p a litre, which means that at least one Welsh creamery will be in some difficulty during the next fortnight. Indeed, its continued existence is in the balance. I urge the Minister to consider intervening to prevent even more cheese imports from coming in and to ensure that that important Welsh industry is looked after and propped up.

Mr. Jones

The hon. Gentleman will have to appreciate that European competition law places severe restrictions on any interventions that my right hon. Friend or my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food might contemplate. I appreciate that an ending of the rigid marketing arrangements that were set up many years ago is bound to bring changes, but I am convinced that short-term difficulties will be greatly outweighed by longer-term advantages, both to the industry and to consumers.