HC Deb 30 April 1998 vol 311 cc201-2W
Mr. Wigley

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent steps he has taken to support the Welsh milk industry. [39738]

Mr. Win Griffiths

On 16 December 1997 officials from the Welsh Office attended the Mergers Panel meeting investigating the acquisition by Milk Marque of the Felinfach based Aeron Valley Cheese Company to underline the importance of this investment for the West Wales economy and dairy industry in particular. More recently, we have given written evidence to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission inquiry into the selling of raw milk reinforcing these points and more generally the important contribution that the dairy sector makes to agriculture in Wales.

The Welsh Office is currently considering an application for grant aid from Aeron Valley Cheese concerning their expansion plans.

I have also, in recent months, discussed with colleagues the Milk Development Council's campaign to be allowed to retain its exemption from Corporation Tax.

The EC's proposals for reform of the dairy sector as part of the Agenda 2000 are part of the on-going dialogue that I and my officials are having with the farming unions in Wales.