§ Mr. Nicholas Bennett
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent representations he has received concerning charges made by the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service for routine visits to farms; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Donald Thompson
I have received representations from individual farmers, from their Members of Parliament and from organisations such as the National Farmers' Union and Milk Marketing Board about the introduction of charges for work in connection with the milk and dairies regulations.
The decision to introduce charges reflects the need to reduce public expenditure and our view that the industry benefits from the strict enforcement of hygiene standards. I have no plans to review our policy on this point of principle, but the search for economies is continuing and any reduction in costs will be passed on to producers. In this connection my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I have decided, with the agreement of the Prime Minister's adviser on efficiency, that there should be a formal efficiency scrutiny to review the scope for further economies in the enforcement of the milk and dairies regulations. A member of the state veterinary service has been appointed as the examining officer responsible for undertaking the scrutiny. He will be consulting widely in the course of the study and is required to report by the end of May 1988.