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Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, does the Minister agree that export subsidies in the milk sector are doubly damaging? They are damaging to the developing countries on which the products are dumped and damaging to our small family dairy farmers who, instead of being encouraged by governments to produce value-added productssuch as yoghurt and cheesestill produce low-value
Lord Whitty: My Lords, reform of the CAP went less far in relation to dairy and in relation to livestock and arable farmingalthough further than it has gone on sugar. It is important that we get closer to a market situation in dairy and that the British dairy industry in particular makes its money from value-added products. However, as regards export subsidies, we do not export a significant amount of liquid milk and we tend to export milk products and skimmed milk. The subsidies we receive in that area come from that side of milk production and not from liquid milk. In negotiations on the EU agricultural policy, it was disappointing that the dairy reformremoving quotas, export subsidies and price supportdid not go further.
Baroness Byford: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the detail and the phasing-out is the biggest challenge faced by the Government and the EU? I want to raise the problem of sugar. We are concerned that some of the ACP countries which now have favourable conditions may be the losers in some way. How are Her Majesty's Government going to approach that problem?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, that is why I said that the problem surrounding sugar is more complex than simply removing the export subsidy and the guaranteed high European price. Removing the guaranteed price and the export subsidy will have an effect on the world price which will not necessarily be to the benefit of sugar producers. One is then in danger of shifting the burden from the poorest to the poor, or among the poor. That is perhaps why sugar is the least reformed part of the CAP because the development effect is differential.
It will take time to reform the sugar regime, but we must make a start on it. It is one of the most objectionable aspects of the EU's CAP and it hits many developing countries, both those which benefit from access to what is basically the British part of the EU market and those which do not.
Lord Carter: My Lords, in considering this subject, should we not remember that, at present, virtually every dairy farmer in the UK is producing milk at a loss and has been doing so for a number of years? I declare an interest as president of the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers. I entirely agree with, and support, the thrust of the Government's policy. However, would my noble friend care to speculate on the effect on the UK dairy farmer if, in fact, export subsidies on milk products were phased out?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, as I said, as far as concerns the British dairy farmer, the export subsidies received are not for liquid milk, which we hardly export. Therefore, the phasing out is not relevant to the liquid
Lord Whitty: My Lords, the Government believe that a comprehensive and integrated management plan, jointly implemented by the local authorities, is the only way to solve the problems on the Ridgeway. My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Rural Affairs has met MPs, Peers and local authorities several times to try to gain support for that. Exercising the Secretary of State's power to make a traffic regulation order would be a last resort, should that local co-operation not succeed.
Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that reply, but I must express extreme disappointment. When that Act was a Bill, this House voted for an amendment to it which I believe expressed our total frustration at the lack of progress by local authorities in passing traffic regulation orders, which the police, with so many other government priorities, are in no position to enforce. We asked the Government to consider bringing forward within a year a comprehensive traffic regulation order, which would be seen by some in the countryside as a measure of relief from some of the other rather oppressive measures which the Government have in mind.
Baroness Byford: My Lords, first, when will the Government do that? It is a year since we debated this very important matter. My noble friend Lord Astor, who cannot be here, particularly wished me to raise this issue because the House of Lords clearly voted for action and nothing has happened. Secondly, is the traffic regulation order time-limited? In other words, can it run only for a certain length of time? If that is the case, are the Government giving any thought to extending the time period?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, the traffic regulation order would apply to a specific part of a right of way, or whatever, for a limited period, but it would be renewable. Therefore, I do not believe that we need to change the law in that respect. To touch on the wider issue to which the noble Baroness referred, further consultation is to take place on the total approach to motorised traffic in this area, and the use of traffic regulation orders by the Secretary of State from on high needs to be retained as an important power. However, it is also important that the local authorities, including the police authorities, regard this as an important area in which the law should be enforced.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, given the assurance from Ministers in, I believe, June or July, that, if necessary, they would bring in these orders within a yearmy noble friend has just said that they would be used as a last resorthow long a consultation period would be required before the orders were introduced? Can they be put in place concurrently with the wider consultation on the national ban that my noble friend has just mentioned or must one precede the other?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, the consultation to which I referred related to the overall issue and not to the use of the traffic order. Therefore, in that sense, they could be carried out or put in place concurrently.
The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, would not Defra's time be far better taken up with ensuring that this problem, which is universally agreed to be a proper problem, is dealt with rather than banning fox hunting? The latter, which is a waste of the department's time, is considered by an awful lot of
Lord Whitty: My Lords, there are also an awful lot of people who think the opposite to the noble Earl. The subject of the Question poses a problem for particular parts of the country and it is an issue on which the House and Parliament have legislated. Therefore, it is important that we take seriously the powers which the recent Act gives us to deal with what, I agree, is a very disturbing problem to many people who try to use our highways and byways.
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