HC Deb 14 July 1981 vol 8 cc337-8W
Mr. Best

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to assist the milk and intensive livestock industries in the Province out of the £10 million which he announced on 27 March was to be allocated to the agricultural industry.

Mr. Humphrey Atkins

I am conscious of the special difficulties being faced by dairy farmers and the intensive livestock sector, and the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland will shortly be introducing two schemes aimed at improving returns in these sectors during the 1981–82 financial year. The first will enable payments totalling some £20 million to be made to operators of licensed pig and poultrymeat processing plants and egg packing stations related to their share of employees' national insurance contributions. The second will take the form of a milk consumer subsidy which will enable the Milk Marketing Board to charge up to 1½p per pint more for milk going for liquid consumption without Northern Ireland consumers having to pay more than consumers in Great Britain. The estimated cost of this scheme is £3.7 million.

Initially expenditure will be met by advances from the Northern Ireland civil contingencies fund. Supplementary Estimates will be presented to the House in due course. The arrangements to assist both the intensive livestock industries and milk producers were notified in accordance with article 93(3) of the Treaty of Rome to the EC Commission who have not raised any objections.

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