§ 8. Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on hill livestock compensatory allowance payments in 1990.
§ Mr. Peter Walker
We shall announce the hill livestock compensatory allowance rates for 1990 shortly.
§ Mr. Jones
The Secretary of State will be aware that the value of HLCAs has been eroded by inflation since the last increase in 1986 and that in 1989 incomes in the less-favoured areas fell by 13 per cent. in real terms. He will also be aware that the European Commission's cut will represent a loss to Welsh farmers of £1.2 million in HLCA payments this year. Will the Secretary of State give the House and Welsh farmers an assurance that the Government will make up the difference?
§ Mr. Walker
The hon. Gentleman knows that last year the Government gave careful conideration to the matter and paid out £30.2 million in allowances. Our latest figures show that net farm incomes on less-favoured area livestock farms rose by just under 40 per cent. on average, partly reflecting increases in output and lower-than-expected increases in input costs.
§ Mr. Barry Jones
Will the Secretary of State consider a concerted policy programme to bring greater social and economic prosperity to Wales? Has he carefully assessed the need for a rural affairs unit in his Department—for example, a task force for north Wales? Will he fight harder in Brussels for rural Wales?
§ Mr. Walker
The hon. Gentleman asks about help for rural Wales. I can only say that the reduction in unemployment, the increased farm income figures that I have just given and the programme for north Wales that we have just announced completely dwart anything that was achieved when the hon. Gentleman was a Minister at the Welsh Office.