§ 5. Mr. Corbett
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied with the progress of the Central 1724 Council for Agricultural and Horticultural Co-operation; and whether he will make a statement.
§ The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Fred Peart)
Before I answer the Question, may I congratulate the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. Jopling) on his appointment and promotion. I wish him well in his job.
I now reply to my hon. Friend. Yes, Sir. Over the years the council's advice has enabled co-operatives to become increasingly efficient, influential and financially strong, and hence to strengthen their production and marketing functions. This has benefited both their members and consumers.
§ Mr. Corbett
I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Is he aware that producers seemingly still do not like the idea of essentially co-operative efforts such as the Meat Marketing Board and the Fresh Vegetables Development Council? Against the background of his recent White Paper, will my right hon. Friend undertake to have a further look at ways of strengthening the work of the Central Council for Agricultural and Horticultural Co-operation and encourage producers on a voluntary basis to improve their production and especially their marketing?
§ Mr. Peart
Yes, I accept that. Already the council has acted. A new agricultural marketing policy committee was set up last April. There are 16 development officers who specialise in different matters and who cover the whole range of farming activities. The council has been strengthened and I am very proud that I set it up.