Skip to main content

Levy Bands

Volume 456: debated on Thursday 1 February 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proposals he has to reform the levy bands. (111433)

I assume the hon. Member’s question refers to the reform of the statutory agricultural and horticultural levy boards.

A project is now under way to replace the five existing levy boards with a single levy body and a number of wholly-owned subsidiary sectoral companies covering horticulture, potatoes, cereals, milk, pigs, beef and lamb. The new structure will be established by statutory instrument made under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. The new levy body will come into being on 1 April 2008.

A shadow board is being appointed to lead the process of establishing the new levy body. These appointments are being made in accordance with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA). The shadow board will review the current requirements of each sector, take a view on what activities could meet those needs, and consider what implications that might have for levy rates in the different sectors (called the ‘Fresh Start’ exercise).

Restructuring of the levy boards will improve governance and transparency, with decisions on sector strategies and levy expenditure taken close to levy payers. The new structure will provide a more efficient and effective service and enhance industry ownership of levy arrangements.

Consultation on secondary legislation to implement the reforms will take place in spring 2007.