HC Deb 30 March 1994 vol 240 cc769-70W
Mr. Willetts

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will make a statement on the National Farmers Union's proposal for a milk development council.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard

In deciding whether to establish a development. council, Ministers have to follow the procedures in the Industrial Organisation and Development Act 1947. In particular, they need to be satisfied that its establishment is desired by a substantial number of persons engaged in the industry.

In mid-April the Ministry and the Welsh Office therefore intend to invite all milk producers in England and Wales to vote on a proposal for the establishment and operation of a milk development council covering Great Britain and its funding by means of a statutory levy.

A development council would continue certain activities of the milk marketing boards in Great Britain—such as the funding of research and development and the provision of market information—which would not be assumed by commercially-oriented successor co-operatives but are of benefit to the industry generally.

We intend to ask for completed questionnaires to be returned by 12 May. The Scottish Office intends to conduct a similar poll in Scotland.