105. In addition, on 23 September 1999, three Red Tape Working
Groups were established to "find ways of doing things better
and to root out unnecessary regulation" in agriculture. They
examined the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS)
and farm inspections; slaughterhouse regulation and meat hygiene
rules; and the operation of the intervention system,
and reported by December 1999.
In total the three Groups made 107 recommendations to reduce the
burden of regulation. In February 2000, the Minister of Agriculture
announced that the Government had accepted 98 of the recommendations.
The IACS and Inspections Group met again in December 2000 to review
the Government's progress in implementing its recommendations.
In a letter to the Minister, Sir Donald Curry, the Group's chairman,
wrote that "the Group is very pleased with the commitment
shown and the progress being made in the implementation of almost
all the recommendations".
Further progress on the recommendations has subsequently been
made: on 26 March 2002, the Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs announced the establishment of the independent appeal
procedure for farmers unhappy with subsidy payment awards.
The Government should outline the progress that has been made
on all the recommendations of the Red Tape Working Groups, particularly
in respect of those which required negotiations at European level.
It should now offer the Working Groups a further opportunity to
comment on progress against their recommendations.
106. In December 2000, Hills, Inputs and Milk Task Forces were
established following the launch of the Action Plan for Farming.
They had all reported by January 2002.
In April 2002, the Government responded to the Milk Task Force,
but it has yet to reply to the other two reports. We recommend
that the Government indicate how, if at all, it intends to take
forward the recommendations of the Hills and Inputs Task Forces.