HL Deb 07 February 1980 vol 404 cc1585-6WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

  1. (i) what steps they are taking to ensure that changes in the Common Agricultural Policy proposed by the EEC Commission in COM(79)710 do not unfairly prejudice British dairy-farmers given the average size of British herds and the special and efficient structure of milk marketing in Britain;
  2. (ii) whether they agree that payments for ceasing milk-production and "deficiency" payments for milk produced would be a more suitable response to the 20 per cent. Over-production of milk in the EEC than the remedies proposed by the Commission; and
  3. (iii) whether they will press for equitable co-responsibility and production levies if such are indeed necessary and unavoidable.


In the circumstances arising within the Community, a deficiency payments system for milk would be extremely costly, and would give rise to very substantial administrative difficulties. The Government therefore believe that a solution to the EEC milk surplus must be found within the framework of the existing support arrangements. In this connection my right honourable friend has made it clear that he is not prepared to accept proposals which discriminate against milk producers in this country, and that he regards actions on the common price as being the best way in which to reduce the surplus.

The Community has, since July 1977, operated a system of premiums for the non-marketing of milk and milk products, and for the conversion of dairy herds. The Commission has proposed that these premiums should be continued for a further 12 months until the end of the 1980–81 milk year, and the Government are currently considering their response to that proposal.