HC Deb 25 May 1989 vol 153 c1115
15. Mr. Greg Knight

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he last met the chairman of the Council for the Protection of Rural England; and what matters were discussed.

Mr. Ryder

I met representatives of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, including the chairman, on 22 March when we discussed several issues of mutual interest.

Mr. Knight

Does the Minister agree that the whole House should recognise the value of hedges as wildlife habitats? Will he confirm that grants are available for the planting and laying of hedgerows under the new farm and conservation grants scheme? What action is being taken to prevent the erosion of the soil in some areas?

Mr. Ryder

I fully share my hon. Friend's views about hedgerows. As he knows, the farm and conservation grants scheme, which began on 20 Feburary, provides grants of up to 40 per cent. for the planting of hedges in lowland areas. I particularly urge farmers in the east midlands and in East Anglia, my own part of England, to make full use of the grants.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Did the chairman raise with the Minister the whole question of the reorganisation of his Ministry? Is it true that discussions are going on as a result of which the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food might be linked to the Department of Industry? Alternatively, is it true that the Government might be considering setting up a whole new green Department based on a combination of briefs from various other Departments?

Mr. Ryder

When I spoke to the chairman of the CPRE, Mr. David Astor, that matter was not on his agenda, but perhaps it may be next time.