HC Deb 01 March 1984 vol 55 cc376-7
4. Mr. Simon Hughes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he anticipates any shift in agricultural aids as a result of the acceptance of the present draft European Economic Community regulation on agricultural structures.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Michael Jopling)

The European Commission's proposed draft Council regulation on agricultural structures is currently being discussed by officials. It is still too early to anticipate the outcome of those discussions or the likely shape of any agreed regulation.

Mr. Hughes

I accept what the Secretary of State has said, but will he accept that if the present draft proposals are implemented without amendment the financial incentives of the scheme will work against the protection of both landscape and wildlife? There is not yet any clear sign that the policies for environmental and agricultural protection have been brought together by the Community to the benefit of our countryside in general.

Mr. Jopling

I note what the hon. Gentleman says. We are examining the proposals very carefully. I can only repeat that, as my hon. Friend has just told the House, environmental considerations are given greater prominence in these proposals than in the measures that are now in force.

Mr. Watson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that he has recently earned the gratitude of 28,000 grassland farmers in Britain as a result of the successful negotiations over marginal land? Could he, however, give us some more details of the success of the negotiations? In particular, when are we likely to get the money?

Mr. Jopling

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments. As I am to make a statement on that very matter at the end of Question Time, it would be more appropriate to deal with it then.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Can the Secretary of State given an assurance that the uplands amenity budget will not come from the uplands livestock budget which is already in place?

Mr. Jopling

The hon. Gentleman will recall that when we made alterations to the capital grants last year we introduced new measures to encourage the construction of hedges and walls in upland areas. That was a great move forward into new ground, and has been widely supported by environmentalists.