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Milk Quotas

Volume 87: debated on Thursday 21 November 1985

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received on the new proposals from the EEC on tenants' rights in relation to the disposal of milk quotas.

My right hon. Friend and I have received a number of representations on the proposed Community outgoers scheme from hon. Members, interested organisations and individual farmers. These have reflected a number of concerns, including the position of tenant farmers and landlords.

I listened carefully to that answer and to the answer given by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to the hon. Member for Romsey and Waterside (Mr. Colvin). Frankly, I remain unclear about the extent of the Government's commitment to help tenant farmers out of their present predicament. On milk quotas, do the Government now share the Commission's recognition of the rights of tenant farmers? If so, will the right hon. Gentleman press immediately to alleviate the conditions of tenant farmers in relation to milk quotas?

Recognition of rights does not necessarily result in an answer that suits our particular landlord and tenant system. We have clearly said that we recognise that, in almost every case, both tenants and landlords have contributed to production on dairy farms and that we are trying to find ways to have that position recognised. We want it recognised in the context of our situation, not someone else's.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that in many cases the tenant has made the relevant capital investment and that any arrangements must take that fact into account?

We said that we would take proper cognisance of that fact and the fact that the landlord also has an interest. We want to ensure that the arrangements suit our landlord and tenant system, not just the system in other countries.

In view of the adverse summer weather experienced in the United Kingdom and the additional debts that went with it, will my right hon. Friend consider whether, under the new outgoers scheme, landlords and tenants alike may release part of the quota and take advantage of the scheme to alleviate their financial difficulties?

My hon. Friend will be aware that we have only recently received the preliminary proposals from the Commission. We have been looking at them carefully. That is one of the issues that we will have to take into account.