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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Elliot Morley): The payment of the slaughter premium subsidy depends on criteria that were not met by animals culled due to foot and mouth disease. However, we understand that compensation was based on the market value of the animal, including any expectation of its subsidy potential.
Mr. Edwards: I remind my hon. Friend that several farmers in the Grosmont area of Monmouthshire had their livestock culled. The valuers indicated that the slaughter premium would be added, and answers to parliamentary questions confirm that it should have been added. Will my hon. Friend consider this matter? If those farmers are entitled to the slaughter premium, it should be paid to them.
Mr. Morley: Since my hon. Friend raised this issue, we have had significant discussions with the valuers association. The situation is a lot more complicated than it would at first appear. To provide my hon. Friend with a rough guide, from 22 March we introduced a standard valuation. Farmers had the choice of taking the standard valuation or opting for individual valuation. That standard valuation for cattle included the slaughter premium, and was used as a base line in relation to valuation, including the slaughter premium. Valuation should therefore also have included the slaughter premium. Having said that, there are some difficult cases, and we are taking advice. Generally, however, it should have been reflected in the compensation, although the rate of compensation for cattle could be regarded as generous.
Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold): I declare my agricultural interest. The Minister will be aware that I have corresponded with him and tabled written parliamentary questions about the associated issue of movement restrictions that prevented farmers from being able to get the over-30-months scheme premium during the foot and mouth outbreak. It is wholly unreasonable that, after the Government imposed movement restrictions, farmers could not then benefit from the OTMS premium. Should not the Government consider that as an associated cost of foot and mouth and pay the premium?
Mr. Morley: We have considered all the issues and examined that point closely. I repeat the point that farmers who were affected by foot and mouth of course went through a dreadful time but, throughout the outbreak, the livestock sector regarded the compensation provided as fair and generous. The compensation reflects many of the issues involved rather than the current market rate for animals.
The House will wish to know that on Monday 18 March 2002 there will be a debate relating to enlargement in European Standing Committee B. Details of the relevant documents will be given in the Official Report.
European Standing Committee BRelevant European Union documents: 14117/01 and Addenda 1-13, The European Commission strategy paper on enlargement and reports on progress by applicants; 5745/02, Common Financial Framework 2004-2006 for Accession Negotiations. Relevant European Scrutiny Committee Reports: HC 152-xv and HC 152-xx (2001-02).]
The right hon. Gentleman will no doubt be aware that at 11 o'clock this morning the Transport Committee produced its latest report, HC 680, on the public-private partnership for the London Underground. Extraordinarily, one of its conclusions is:
One of today's newspapers contains the headline, "Railtrack fiasco has shattered Blair's credibility in the City". It refers to the pronouncement by top fund managers in the City that said that the recent decision on Railtrack
The surcharge has been dubbed 'the Byers premium'".
Today's edition of the Daily Mail has the headline, "Mittal: it gets worse". May we have a debate entitled, "How many Government Departments can you buy for £125,000"? We know, do we not, that No. 10 Downing street can be bought. We know that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office can be bought. Now it would appear that the Home Office can also be bought for that same £125,000. Has the Leader of the House been briefed to reply to the question whether this story about the Home Office and Mittal is true? In a friendly gesture, I would just sound a slight health warning for the Leader of the House, reminding him to be careful what he might say about any briefing that he has had. The truth is, is it notit is now perfectly obviousthat the Government have been bought again? I hope that the Leader of the House will be able to clarify this latest story about the rather ghastly Mr. Mittal.
I introduce the subject of Mr. Balfe because he obviously feels that there is no scope within the Labour party for any sort of debate or difference of view, and I remind the Leader of the House that recently, at this Dispatch Box, I had to defend his hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs. Ellman) from a vicious attack by none other than the Foreign Secretary. Now I find that I must try to defend the hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvin (Mr. Galloway), who has been viciously attacked by his supposed hon. Friend, the UnderSecretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Bradshaw). At column 88WHI cannot imagine what that stands forof yesterday's Hansard, the junior Minister said about his alleged hon. Friend that he was