§ Mr. Ensor
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is 54W aware that the overdraft of the Egg Marketing Board is currently running at about £5 million and that the Board is using bonus amounts, due to producers, to reduce the amount of the overdraft, thereby depriving egg producers of the amount due to them; and what steps he is taking to deal with this situation.
§ Mr. Peart
Under arrangements concerning the operation of the Board's reserve fund, they inform me from time to time of the level of their overdraft. The present level is, I understand, very much below the figure quoted by my hon. Friend. The arrangements for paying bonuses to producers are a matter for the Board, which announced on 26th May that, during the period until producers are transferred to the centralised payments system, interim payment of bonuses will be made whenever the accumulated sum due to any producer reaches £50. My right hon. Friends and I cannot intervene in the Board's administrative arrangements save in the special circumstances provided for in the Agricultural Marketing Act 1958. A complaint about the operation of the centralised payments system generally has been referred to the Committee of Investigation under Section 19 of the Act; the matter is thereforesub judice.