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Mr. Brown: The package provides some extra support to the dairy sector. However, the way of dealing with

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bovine TB is to press ahead with current Government experiments to establish the science once and for all. We can then take action, based on the science, to prevent the spread of such disease.

Mr. Michael Clapham (Barnsley, West and Penistone): May I thank my right hon. Friend for his statement, and tell him that it will be warmly welcomed by the farming community in my rural constituency? May I tell him also that small abattoirs in rural constituencies are suffering great hardship? Will he consider ways in which small abattoirs in rural constituencies might be helped to survive?

Mr. Brown: I am grateful for my hon. Friend's welcome for today's announcement. Since becoming Agriculture Minister, I have had to focus on some key problems--such as the immediate difficulties in the producer sector, and the need to work very hard on the politics of lifting the ban on our beef exports. Consequently, until now, I have not been able to give sufficient attention to some of the problems in the middle of the producer cycle--the bit between the producer and the retailer. I intend now to focus on those matters.

Mr. Robert Walter (North Dorset): I am sure that the beef and sheep sectors will be pleased with the Minister's announcement, but I just hope that it does not become an annual event--a sort of farmers' Christmas bonus.

Like other hon. Members, I should like to emphasise the fact that the pig and poultry sectors receive no aid from this package. I am pleased to hear that he met poultry producers today, but I note the confusion between fresh and processed pigmeat. Will the Minister give the House a categorical assurance that, in principle, he is against the import into this country of pig and poultrymeat that is produced to inferior welfare and hygiene standards? Failing that, will he encourage the retail sector to label those products to show that they come from countries with inferior welfare and hygiene standards?

Mr. Brown: We want a welfare premium for the British industry. As I said, I am very sympathetic to those sectors which work in a relatively liberalised market, especially the pig and poultry sectors. I have engaged retailers in discussions about labelling schemes. I think that, instead of urging me to do something on which I have already embarked, the hon. Gentleman should welcome the fact that I have made a start.

Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend): Like many hon. Members, I thank my right hon. Friend for, and congratulate him on, his significant announcement. I am quite sure that the present Secretary of State for Wales, my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael), in the short time that he has been in office, and the previous Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies), will both have made significant contributions in putting the Welsh case.

Will the Minister tell us how much farmers in Wales are likely to get? Will he concentrate especially on market issues, as prices in Welsh markets are at absolute rock bottom, and there is a need to push the retail industry along so that farmers get a better deal?

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Mr. Brown: My estimate is that the HLCA package alone might be worth just over £2,000 each to hill farmers in Wales. Clearly, the extent to which they will benefit from the other announcements that I have made today will depend on the mix of the herds. As my hon. Friend will know, I visited Cardiff recently with the previous Secretary of State for Wales to meet representatives of the industry. Those discussions, and the discussions with the present Secretary of State, informed the shape of the package that I have been able to announce today.

Mr. Andrew Welsh (Angus): I welcome the Minister's proposals, but, given that agriculture is 50 per cent. more important to the Scottish economy and to Scottish employment than it is to the United Kingdom as a whole, how has that been taken into account in those proposals? How does the total match the depth of the problems? If the problems continue, will the Minister be prepared to act again?

Mr. Brown: I think that the hon. Gentleman could afford to be a little more generous, because Scotland benefits disproportionately from the announcements, as those who follow these matters closely will realise.

Mr. Barry Jones (Alyn and Deeside): I thank my right hon. Friend for this timely and excellent package. May I tell him bluntly what farmers in my constituency are saying about him--that he listens well, and that he is accessible and most courteous? However, will he state the total round sum that is coming to Wales? Does he acknowledge that there are special difficulties for sheepmeat and beef producers on the hilltops and hillsides of Wales? How does this timely package help the family farm which demands so much hard work but often makes so little profit?

Mr. Brown: I estimate that the announcement is worth just over £21 million to Wales alone. That is a significant package of extra moneys for Wales. I thank my hon. Friend for his kind remarks about how that will be warmly welcomed by the farmers to whom he has spoken.

Mr. David Maclean (Penrith and The Border): As the Minister has been listening to farmers, he knows that they will be grateful for the package. What does he say to those farmers who believe that, had the Department--perhaps not the Minister himself--acted earlier, they could have obtained £818 million in agrimonetary compensation? What does he say to those farmers who point out that the £120 million package is worth while, but that the rise in interest rates on their bank loans since the previous election is exactly £126 million?

Mr. Brown: The idea that there is a huge pile of agrimonetary compensation available for collection in Brussels if only there was the political will to go over and get it and dole it out to farmers is a complete myth. That is not how it works, as the right hon. Gentleman should know, because he was a member of the Government who introduced the Fontainebleau agreement which conditions how such payments are made.

Mr. Paddy Tipping (Sherwood): Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the extra £120 million is essentially designed to meet the short-term crisis? In the mid to long

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term, is it not our aim to bring about reforms of the CAP which would lift the landscape and enhance the environment, and, more particularly, bring new investment, new jobs and a new future to the wider rural economy?

Mr. Brown: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is why there are two elements to today's announcement. First, I am responding to what farmers told me at the large Blackpool rally. They said, "We need help, Mr. Brown, and we need it now." This package is that help. It is specifically targeted to deal with immediate difficulties. Secondly, in the longer term, I want to engage the whole of the producer side of the industry in a sensible discussion about how we get from where we are to where we all realise we need to be. That means working together co-operatively and finding a way forward to deal with the challenges that are marching towards us at a very fast pace.

Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy): I welcome the right hon. Gentleman's statement, and appreciate that it offers a great deal of assistance. Essentially, these measures will assist in the short term, but what steps is his Department taking to tackle the important matter of bringing confidence back into the industry and restoring public confidence in it? I should be much obliged if the Minister could respond to that question.

Mr. Brown: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. These measures are targeted on the immediate problems. Farmers asked for help now; this is that help. In the longer term, we have to work co-operatively to move away from a CAP structure based on production support payments. We need to move towards a structure in which payments are area-based, transparent and specific, and which sets the framework within which private sector businesses can work out how they are going to operate and generate a sufficient return on capital and sufficient earnings for those working in the industry to make it worth while. The Government stand ready to help with that.

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley): Does my right hon. Friend accept that, when dealing with difficult farmland such as that in the Pennines, we have to consider the environment and the landscape balance as well as agriculture, as in many cases agriculture will not be viable there? We do not want the Pennines to be full of wind farms, which seem to be the only commercially viable option for many farmers at the moment.

Mr. Brown: I strongly agree with my hon. Friend. That is why I am working very hard to try to reshape the CAP so that payments are specific and transparent, and are linked to environmental measures such as protecting the very beautiful area to which my hon. Friend referred.

Mr. Tony Baldry (Banbury): The Minister said, quite fairly, that this welcome package targets the immediate problems. He also said that, in the longer term, he wished to reform the CAP. However, in between, there is still the problem of the very strong pound. What signal is the Minister sending to the industry on how the Government will tackle that problem in the foreseeable future, as it will not go away? How are bank managers and others to

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envisage a future for the industry if there are no clear signals from the Government as to how, in the medium term, they will deal with the strong pound and its impact on agriculture?

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