§ Mr. Nicholls
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what evidence he has received of attempts to transfer milk quotas by means of artificial land transactions; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Jopling
I have seen press reports of such transactions. I believe the incidence is in fact low, but any artificial transition would be open to challenge in the courts and if ruled illegal could result in heavy costs for those involved. I am arranging for transfers of quota to be monitored to ensure that the requirements of Community and United Kingdom legislation are being observed. In particular, checks will be carried out to ensure that where quota has been transferred in connection with a sale or lease of land, and the land is subsequently returned to the original occupier without the quota, there has been a change in the use of the land in the meantime. If there has been no such change, the quota will be transferred back to the holding from which it came. My Department issued guidance as to the circumstances in which quota can properly be transferred between producers in the paper "Mobility of Quota" issued in January. In order to establish that a change in use of the land has occurred a reasonable interval of time must elapse between the two transactions.