§ 8. Mr. Nicholson
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made by the appeal panels and tribunals in processing milk quota appeals.
§ Dr. Boyson
The four local panels have considered virtually all the special case claims from some 3,900 producers. In addition, over 400 appeals have been considered from producers who requested a review of the initial rejection by the Department.
The tribunal received about 3,450 exceptional hardship claims and has dealt with about 80 per cent. of these, together with over 800 appeals against local panel decisions.
§ Mr. Nicholson
I welcome the fact that the tribunals and panels are finally coming to their conclusion, but is the Minister aware that many small producers in Northern Ireland received nothing when they went to the appeal tribunals and panels, and that they have been seriously disadvantaged by the fact that it was the large producers who appear to be receiving whatever milk quota is available?
§ Dr. Boyson
There are two problems here. The first is when somebody applies for extra quota and is rejected; secondly, there is the even greater problem of people who have been granted extra quota. We do not know until we have finished examining all the special claims how much of the allocation will be given to them. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is well aware of the problem, as are all the territorial Ministers involved in agriculture, and it is currently being examined.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, with regard to the appeals, the percentage of allocation given will be very small in terms of the amount of quota available? To follow what the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Nicholson) said, is the Minister also aware that it is not the large dairy farmer about whom we need to worry, but the small dairy farmer, who is making his living from a small number of cows?
§ Dr. Boyson
I am well aware of the problems which have been raised by the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), who is obviously very knowledgeable about agriculture in Northern Ireland. I am also aware that the small dairy farmer, on certain issues, faces greater 893 problems than the large dairy farmer. The whole question of how much can be allocated to those who have succeeded in their appeals is being examined. Indeed, meetings are being held between the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and other territorial Ministers to see whether anything can be done to correct the Northern Ireland situation.