§ Mr. Ashley
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the extent of public involvement with the company Trent Grain which holds intervention stocks of agricultural produce, stating (a) whether any public money is likely to be lost, (b) whether there is evidence of any stock loss, (c) when officials first appreciated the nature of the firm's problems, 457W (d) what action was subsequently taken to limit the extent of possible public financial loss and (e) whether officials studied the company reports of the last three years.
§ Mr. Gummer
[pursuant to his reply, 4 November 1986, c. 420]: The first indication of the financial difficulties of Trent Grain was noted in the summer of last year. A volumetric analysis, of the kind used regularly by the board for monitoring purposes, was then carried out and indicated a possible stock loss. There followed a further analysis which tended to confirm this suspicion, no further deliveries were made and, to facilitate checkweighing, grain was sold from the store as quickly as possible. In May 1986 it was learnt that a grain trader had secured a charge on the company's assets. Cargo superintendents were appointed to guard the store and to prevent a removal of intervention grain. Check-weighing has confirmed a shortfall; action is in hand aimed at recovering the loss. The company's report for 1983 and 1984 were studied by officials, but the 1985 report has not yet been submitted to Companies House.