HC Deb 20 November 1984 vol 68 cc97-9W
Mr. Gale

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has received the report of the public inquiry into the objection made to the proposed amendments to the potato marketing scheme; and if he will make a statement. financial results, (b) its current cost financial results,(c) its financial target and over or under-achievement and (d) the level of financial performance, in both historic and current cost, necessary to meet the statutory break-even requirements.

Mr. Peter Rees

[pursuant to his reply, 19 November 1984, c. 40]: The information requested is given in the following table on an historic cost basis for each trading fund from its year of establishment and on a current cost basis for the years for which current cost accounts have been prepared.

Mr. Jopling

My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales and I have received the report of Mr. Brian Capstick, QC, who conducted the public inquiry into objections to the proposed amendments to the potato marketing scheme. The main effects of the amendments are to:

  1. (i) increase the formula rate, on which the level of producers' contributions is based, to £75 per hectare in 1985;
  2. (ii) change the basis for calculating the formula rate for future years;
  3. (iii) give the board more flexibility in the adjustment of electoral districts;
  4. (iv) reduce the minimum number of producers, and the respective potato area, required to demand a poll of all registered producers;
  5. (v) increase the charges for supplying copies of the Register of producers and the board's balance sheet; and
  6. (vi) change certain voting procedures.

The report recommends that, subject to certain modifications, the amendments should be adopted and that they will conduce to the more efficient operation of the scheme. Ministers have accepted these recommendations and have given notice of the modifications to the Potato Marketing Board. These refer to a change in the definition of "average price" and "potato area" and a lowering of the minimum number of producers required to demand a poll from 500, as proposed by the board, to 400. The conditions under which the board may alter electoral boundaries are revised and there is one further minor change. The board has now accepted all these modifications and a draft order will be laid before Parliament shortly.

The report of the inquiry is being published today and I have arranged for a copy to be placed in the Library of the House. I have written to Mr. Capstick on behalf of the other Agricultural Ministers thanking him for a comprehensive report and the speed with which he has completed his findings.