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Volume 931: debated on Tuesday 3 May 1977

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is satisfied that the English wine growers are prepared for the new regulations on descriptions of wines, due to come in to effect on 1st September 1977.

Yes. The legislation has been freely available since last July, and my Department has given full advice to growers.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will encourage the English wine growers to continue the increase in production of quality wines and draw up a programme with the industry to enable the United Kingdom to subscribe to the EEC quality wine regulations (EEC 817/70) as soon as possible.

To achieve the Community status of "quality wine produced in a specified region" it is necessary to undergo an extensive programme of testing and controls lasting at least 10 years. I am willing to discuss with growers whether such a programme and the consequent expenditure by Government and producers would be worth while, but it is clear that United Kingdom growers cannot qualify for this status at present. There is an alternative provision for wines to qualify for description as table wines with an indication of geographical origin. The English Vineyards Association has agreed in principle to my Department's suggestion that it should make use of this provision, and I hope discussions about the detailed arrangements to achieve this will begin shortly.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assistance his Department gives to British wine growers; whether he is satisfied with the growth of the industry; and whether he will make a statement.

Assistance is available under various grant schemes, including the Farm and Horticultural Development Scheme and the Farm and Horticultural Capital Grant Scheme. The Department makes every effort to encourage all producers and growers to make efficient use of their land and other resources in the light of market prospects for their products. It is for the producers and growers themselves to determine, within their general economic circumstances, the extent to which they develop any particular enterprise, such as vine growing, on their land.