§ Mr. Colin Shepherd
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made towards the introduction of an approval scheme for nurseries.
§ Mr. Jopling
I am pleased to announce the introduction with effect from 1 July of a voluntary scheme under which nurseries which maintain high standards will be able to qualify for approval by the Ministry. The scheme is directed at enterprises which produce plants (toher than vegetables) or bulbs for export. I hope that it can be developed so that approved premises would in future be subject of less intensive pre-export inspections. This would mean that lower charges would apply to the inspection of plants and bulbs grown on approved premises. The scope for reduced inspections will be considered in the late summer with a view to operating differential charges early in 1988 if the scheme proves practicable and effective.
Approval will be given only to enterprises which meet very high standards of plant health, hygiene and management. The assessment of enterprises which apply for approval will cover pest and disease control, soil and crop management, facilities, management structure, tidiness and hygiene.
A fee of £50 will be payable on application for approval under the scheme: the fee for growers registered in the Ministry's plant health propagation scheme will be £25.
The Ministry's plant health and seeds inspectors will shortly be in contact with all exporters of bulbs and plants and will provide a leaflet explaining how the new scheme will operate.