HC Deb 01 February 1996 vol 270 cc1105-6
1. Sir Michael Neubert

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent representations he has received on the European Union's proposals in respect of chocolate. [11264]

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Douglas Hogg)

I have received strong representations from British businesses about the need to remove arbitrary restrictions and to encourage free trade. I have recently written to the two Commissioners most closely involved, to emphasise those concerns. The Government are determined to do all that they can to ensure the recognition of the traditional descriptions of British chocolate throughout Europe.

Sir Michael Neubert

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware of the incredulity with which our nation of chocolate lovers greeted the proposal that its favourite confection should in future be called "vegelate"? Will he do his utmost to ensure that this latest lunacy from Brussels is stifled at birth, before the British people become confirmed in their belief that they are at the mercy of a load of Cadbury's fruit and nut cases?

Mr. Hogg

My hon. Friend is quite right. Two important issues are involved—first, the need to preserve to British manufacturers of chocolate the right to sell in Europe under the designation chocolate, chocolate products that contain vegetable fat in addition to cocoa butter; secondly, to ensure that the milk chocolate that we manufacture and consume in Britain—which is milkier than that manufactured abroad—can be sold in Europe, but not under pejorative labelling.