PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES

HOUSE OF COMMONS

OFFICIAL REPORT

Second Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c.

DRAFT AGRICULTURAL, FISHERY AND AQUACULTURE PRODUCTS (IMPROVEMENT GRANT) REGULATIONS 1991

Wednesday 13 March 1991

LONDON: HMSO

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1

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairman: Mr Geraint Howells

Currie, Mrs Edwina (Derbyshire, South)

Curry, Mr David (The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)

Garrett, Mr Ted (Wallsend)

Godman, Dr Norman A. (Greenock and Port Glasgow)

Hague, Mr William (Richmond, Yorks)

Hamilton, Mr Neil (Tatton)

Home Robertson, Mr John (East Lothian)

Livsey, Mr Richard (Brecon and Radnor)

Macdonald, Mr Calum (Western Isles)

Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)

Morley, Mr Elliot (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

Pike, Mr Peter L. (Burnley)

Tapsell, Sir Peter (East Lindsey)

Thompson, Mr Patrick (Norwich, North)

Townend, Mr John (Bridlington)

Trotter, Mr Neville (Tynemouth)

Ward, Mr John (Poole)

Mr F. A. Cranmer, Committee Clerk

2 3 Second Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c. Wednesday 13 March 1991

[Mx. GERAINT HOWELLS in the Chair]

Draft Agricultural, Fishery and Aquaculture Products (Improvement Grant) Regulations 1991

10.30 am

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. David Curry): I beg to move, That the Committee has considered the draft Agricultural, Fishery and Aquaculture Products (Improvement Grant) Regulations 1991. This is a small, technical measure. Under the European Community's guidance fund, projects for marketing agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture are aided by Community finance. To qualify, each project must have a minimum element of finance-5 per cent—from national Governments. The Community recently revised its scheme. Parliamentary authorisation to pay the 5 per cent, therefore, must be renewed. The regulations give parliamentary authorisation for the continued payment of the minimum 5 per cent necessary to qualify for European grants under the FEOGA guidance.

10.31 am

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley): We recognise that the regulations are technical. We support the objective of ensuring that we secure assistance for the industries set out in the explanatory note. The Government must make a contribution to enable that assistance to be paid by the EC. The regulations authorise the payment of the 5 per cent. contribution by the Government. For that reason, we do not oppose them.

10.32 am

Mr. Neville Trotter (Tynemouth): May I refer to the grants that will be needed for the implementation of the European Community's hygiene regulations? Uncertainty is causing considerable concern in the industry. It is clear 4 that before long it will be faced with significant expenditure—figures such as ©200 million have been bandied around. Practically every port, if not every port, will be affected. Will my hon. Friend the Minister comment briefly on the time scale for the implementation of the regulations? Concern has been expressed that implementation of the controls will be carried out by national Governments rather than by international fiat from Brussels. It is feared that we shall play cricket and enforce the rules straitly while our competitor countries will have laxer regimes, thereby placing our industry at a disadvantage.

10.33 am

Mr. Curry: I hasten to add the caveat that I am one of the few Ministers who think that cricket is a fairly boring sport. It is said that the English, having no concept of the eternal, invented cricket to give them a concept of eternity. I am aware that the county in which the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Trotter) is located is not in the first-class cricket tables.

Mr. Controller: I am happy to tell my hon. Friend that Durham is joining the league.

Mr. Curry: My ancestors come from Durham. I am delighted for Durham and all cricket watchers. My hon. Friend referred to the agriculture grants because of his interest in the ports in his constituency. We have agreed a clear United Kingdom quota of £15 million over three years, which is a substantial increase over the grants that were previously available. The Government shall ensure the absolute minimum bureaucracy for applicants and that grants are paid without distorting competition because we do not want to disadvantage those who have made investments. The United Kingdom is the third biggest recipient of grants in the Community. I assure my hon. friend that we shall target them effectively on the sectors that need them and that will need significant investment.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Committee has considered the draft Agricultural, Fishery and Aquaculture Products (Improvement Grant) Regulations 1991.

Committee rose at twenty-five minutes to Eleven o'clock.

THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:

Howells, Mr. Geraint (Chairman)

Curry, Mr

Fox, Sir Marcus

Hamilton, Mr. Neil

Home Robertson, Mr.

Pike, Mr.

Tapsell, Sir Peter

Thompson, Mr. Patrick

Trotter, Mr.

Ward, Mr.