asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the terms under which the referendum on milk marketing boards is being conducted; what majority vote is required to retain the board; what is the weighting in relation to herds; whether votes not cast are counted as votes against; and when the result will be announced.
The polls of producers for each of the five milk marketing boards in the United Kingdom are being held under the terms of EEC regulations Nos. 1421/78 and 1422/78 which safeguard the continued existence of the boards, subject to a positive vote in their favour by producers. The polls are being conducted by the boards themselves under the general supervision of the agricultural departments. The regulations require that two conditions must be satisfied in the poll for the boards to continue in existence. Firstly, for each board, at least 80 per cent. of those who vote in the referendum must be in favour; each eligible producer is allocated one producer vote for this calculation. Secondly, those who vote in favour must represent at least 50 per cent. of milk production in the board's area; for this calculation each producer is allocated a number of production votes, on the basis of one vote for every 10 milk cows he owns plus one vote for the balance of cows in his herd above a multiple of 10.Votes not cast, or cast but not valid, will be disregarded if they are producer votes, but will be regarded as negative votes if they are production votes. Voting papers were sent out in England and Wales on 24th October for return by 17th November. The result is expected to be announced on 27th November for the milk marketing board for England and Wales.The results for the four boards in Scotland and Northern Ireland are expected before that date.