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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 products—such as yoghurt and cheese—still produce low-value

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products such as milk powder. Will the Minister do his best to ensure that those farmers are enabled to produce value-added products?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, reform of the CAP went less far in relation to dairy and in relation to livestock and arable farming—although 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 reform—removing quotas, export subsidies and price support—did 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

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milk price. Clearly the phasing out will not happen overnight. The reduction in export subsidies will take place in a phased way as part of a total reform of the dairy policy. In the short term, if people continued to produce to quota and if there were no subsidised export markets, then obviously the price would go down further. However, it would probably hit the intervention price and therefore make no significant difference to the income of dairy farmers. But this must be part of a planned phasing out of the totality of the dairy regime.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, I wonder whether the Minister—

Noble Lords: Next Question!

Lord Mackie of Benshie: No, my Lords.

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): My Lords, I think it is time for us to move on to the next Question.

Traffic Regulation: National Trails

3.1 p.m.

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Following the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, what progress is being made in promoting a traffic regulation order banning mechanically propelled vehicles from using national trails such as the Ridgeway.

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.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the traffic regulation order pre-existed the Bill to which the noble Lord refers, and it is always to be used as a last resort when other

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elements have failed. The problem in relation to the Ridgeway—the specific focus of this Question—is that different parts of it have a different status. In some areas, it is a BOAT—a byway open to all traffic; in others, it consists of pathways; and, in a small part, it is also a metalled surface or a RUPP—a road used as a public path. Therefore, different rules apply to different parts of it and that means that local solutions are required in some areas. However, my right honourable friend Alun Michael is attempting to bring together all the enforcement authorities and, if that fails, will consider, as a result of the Bill to which the noble Lord refers, the possibility of intervening with a traffic regulation order.

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 year—my noble friend has just said that they would be used as a last resort—how 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

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people to be very useful and beneficial to the countryside. However, I am absolutely certain that the noble Lord cannot get his mind round that question.

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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