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Lord Hylton: My Lords, will the Government examine the workings of the care system much more widely than merely the matter of abuse? I ask that because of the exceptionally high proportion of children who were formerly in care who come before the courts and who eventually receive custodial sentences.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, the noble Lord is absolutely right; the statistics for children who have left care are striking in terms of their low educational achievement and their records of homelessness and of crime. As I say, the Children (Leaving Care) Bill is before your Lordships' House at the moment. That Bill will enable much stronger support to be given to young people, particularly through the appointment of young persons' advisers who will advise each young person leaving care. A package of measures, including financial support, will be available and will give these young people a much better start in life than they have hitherto received.

The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, does the Minister agree that Sir William Utting's conclusion to the previous report on child abuse is that the best

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safeguard is an environment of overall excellence? Therefore, does the Minister recommend the extremely high quality residential care staff training offered by Philip Stokoe at the Tavistock Clinic? Is the Minister aware of the evidence that such training reduces staff sickness and is therefore more than cost effective?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am not aware of the work of Philip Stokoe, although officials in my department are. I understand that he takes a psychodynamic approach to analysing people's behaviour while in residential care. We would, of course, want to take advantage of all support, training and counselling systems that are available. We should recognise that although the Waterhouse report revealed tremendous failings in the care system for young people, many of the people employed in residential care homes do a great deal of work and provide a good standard of care. However, we must ensure that all people working in residential care provide that standard of care. We must recognise that if they are to provide that standard of care, often in pressurised situations, they will require much more training, support and leadership than they have received in the past. The Government are determined to achieve that.

Dairy Industry

2.49 p.m.

Lord Geraint asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the present state of the dairy industry in Britain is satisfactory.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): My Lords, the Government recognise the considerable problems currently facing the dairy industry, where a combination of factors has reduced milk prices and had a consequential effect on incomes in the sector over the past two years.

Lord Geraint: My Lords, I am sure that the Minister is well aware that dairy farmers in this country receive less for their milk than any other producer within the EU. She will be further aware that milk prices in this country will go down as low as 7p per pint to the producer and we, the consumers, will pay anything up to 40p for that same pint of milk. Will the noble Baroness admit that that is either the Government's fault, the supermarkets' fault or both? Will she give an assurance to the dairy farmers of this country that she will do everything in her power to ensure that they get the agrimonetary compensation and will lift the ban on the calf export scheme?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, the noble Lord raises a number of points. We have taken action already that will help the dairy sector in terms of the moratorium

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on cattle passport charges. We are looking at supporting initiatives to find new markets for surplus calves, either for sale as veal or in the processing sector.

In the debate on agriculture last week, we had a long discussion about agrimonetary compensation, which is under consideration at the moment. As I said then, agrimonetary compensation for the dairy sector is not free, nor is it European money per se; 85p in every pound is paid for by the British taxpayer.

The noble Lord is right: the price of milk has fallen. There are variations in prices within this country and there are also variations within Europe, and we are at the bottom of the league. I am not sure that that is the fault of either the Government or of the supermarkets. It is the fault of the market in milk and, in particular, of the effect that the strong pound has had in determining price. A variety of issues have dramatically affected the market in milk and caused the restructuring in the dairy industry that has been going on for a long time. I do not underestimate the problems that dairy farmers have at the moment.

Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, I agree that there are an awful lot of problems in the dairy sector. Could not the Minister use whatever charm and influence she has on the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Unless we find a way of paying these agricultural compensatory amounts to the dairy farmers, we shall have an even more serious problem than we have at the moment. We are told constantly how brilliantly the economy is doing and that the Chancellor has a war chest. As we are not talking about an enormous amount of money, such help--I put it in the simplest terms--could be the difference between life and death for dairy farmers.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I understand the passion with which the noble Baroness speaks. But I am not sure whether my passion would be put to best account in the way she suggests. Of course agrimonetary compensation is one possible use of public funds if they can be found within the agriculture industry. Today we are talking about dairy farmers. However, we have to look across the board. If the money went into agrimonetary compensation, there are other sectors--I am thinking in particular of the pig sector--which would not benefit. We cannot spend money twice. There are issues of priorities and, unfortunately, not only the dairy sector but a large number of other sectors in agriculture are having problems at the moment.

The Lord Bishop of Hereford: My Lords, does the Minister agree that there is a fundamental injustice in the fact that each company owned by United Kingdom dairy farmers is restricted to no more than 25 per cent of the wholesale market--which, of course, relates to the break up of Milk Marque under the previous government--whereas continental farmers are allowed a much greater degree of freedom and a much greater market share? I believe that in the case of the Danish firm MD, it is up to 95 per cent of its own market. Does she further agree that this commercial distortion, this prevention of our own dairy farmers

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from helping themselves in the ways and on the scale that they would like, added to the other disadvantages they are under because of high welfare standards, traceability and so on--which are welcome in themselves but are not being followed by farmers in some of our competitor countries--place the UK dairy industry in a very unfavourable position? Are the Government prepared to see the recreation of something like Milk Marque in order that value can be added by dairy farmers, who are anxious to market their produce in the most efficient way and to add value? Does the noble Baroness agree that we need something on that scale in order to make that possible?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, given the recent report on Milk Marque and the MMC finding that prices were higher than they should have been as a result of its selling system, it would be wrong of me to suggest to the right reverend Prelate that it would be easy to recreate either a Milk Marque or a Milk Marketing Board in the form that they were before. As he will be aware, there will be three successor bodies to Milk Marque. We hope that they will be innovative and will be able to help in terms of marketing. Specific issues regarding processing are being investigated at the moment, and I understand that the competition authorities will be reporting to the Secretary of State for Industry by Easter.

The right reverend Prelate is right; there are large, vertically integrated co-operatives on the Continent. However, it is not only a matter of the scope of the organisations but the way in which they operate, and making sure that that does not go against--

Lord Davies of Coity: My Lords--

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, does the Minister accept--

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords--

Lord Davies of Coity: My Lords, my noble friend is aware of the concern of dairy farmers about the incidence of TB. Can she advise the House of the progress that is being made to reduce and it is to be hoped eventually eradicate this problem?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, the problem of TB in cattle affects dairy farmers considerably. We hope to announce two extra triplets in the culling trial on TB later this week. We are looking specifically at the issue of going over quota, which occurs when cattle movements on dairy farms are restricted.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, does the Minister accept--

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords--


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