§ Lord Lyell
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they have any information about reform of the milk marketing arrangements in England.
§ The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries; and Food (Baroness Trumpington)
I welcome the Milk Marketing Board for England and Wales' decision to seek an early and orderly change to more flexible and competitive milk marketing arrangements. 1 hope that it will continue to press ahead quickly with proposals for transforming itself to co-operative status and will now bring the dairy trade and other interested parties into its discussions.
The Government share the board's view that change is necessary, but we all agree that such change must be orderly. I must therefore emphasise that, until alternative arrangements are agreed and put in place, the existing milk marketing scheme continues in force. We will continue to sustain its proper and reliable operation within the present framework of European and domestic law, and will work with the board and the European Commission to prevent its being undermined by artificial contractual arrangements. The growth of such arrangements illustrates the pressures facing the statutory scheme and the need for the modalities of change to be decided quickly. They must not be a means of evading the present legislation to the detriment of the industry as a whole.