§ Mr. Pawsey
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether there are to be any changes to the existing system of purchasing milk quotas.
§ Mr. Curry
EC regulations do not permit the sale of quota as such, but quota is transferred in proportion to the areas used for milk production when all or part of a dairy holding is sold, leased or transferred by inheritance. The EC Commission is aware of pressure for greater flexibility in the quota transfer rules, which apply in their present form until the end of March 1992. Proposals for their extension or amendment have yet to be made.
§ Mr. Ron Davies
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the European Community directive on milk quality; what actions he is taking in respect of that directive; and if he foresees any future change in its conditions.
§ Mr. Curry
Council directive 85/397/EEC on intra-Community trade in heat-treated milk came into force on 1 January 1989. It is implemented in England and Wales by the Importation of Milk Regulations 1988 and in Scotland and Northern Ireland by similar provisions. Under the directive our domestic milk production has been formally recognised as achieving the higher "step 2" milk hygiene standards. Denmark is the only other member state to have achieved this.
The Commission has tabled proposals for two Council regulations which would replace the directive and extend its standards to all Community-produced milk and milk products made from cows', goats', sheep's or buffaloes' milk. Discussions are under way and the United Kingdom is seeking an outcome which maintains and improves milk hygiene standards across the Community.