HC Deb 31 March 1993 vol 222 cc455-69 10.35 pm
Mr. Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

This has been a wide-ranging and important debate. It is an opportunity to discuss the common agricultural policy, which is of major significance to the people of Britain, given the enormous amounts of money that they contribute. The fact that hon. Members on both sides of the House have raised serious and important issues demonstrates that people's attention is directed towards the CAP.

I welcome the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang). It is not carping to express some reservations about the operation of the CAP, given the problems with it. We are still saddled with a Frankenstein's monster. It is hugely expensive. It is inefficient. It is damaging to world trade. It traps farmers into growing simply for subsidies, not to meet market demands. Almost every hon. Member would accept that that is the fundamental weakness of a system of the nature of the CAP. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Stevenson) said in his excellent speech, even though the purpose of the CAP reforms was to bring the budget under control, the cost is still spiralling.

The debate is an opportunity to evaluate the reforms of May 1992. The Opposition are entitled to criticise certain aspects of the review. When the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food announced the reform, he was treated as a hero coming back from some battle abroad. One was surprised that some of his Back-Bench Members did not throw down rose petals and offer him a laurel crown. We should evaluate just what was achieved in May 1992, whether the reform of the CAP has been the great success that was claimed by the Minister and whether it will meet the objectives that were laid out then.

I remind the House that the Minister said last year that the reforms would cut £8 billion off the CAP budget. At the time the Labour party expressed some doubt about that. I still express doubt about it, given what we have heard today about the problems of controlling the CAP budget. There is also the question whether the reforms have helped all our farmers, as some people have claimed.

Like other hon. Members, I attended a conference of small farmers today. The Minister was present. It was a pity that he did not share the platform with me and other parliamentarians, as was originally promised and was on the agenda. Those small farmers made it clear that they did not believe that the CAP would work to their advantage as it has been reformed. I am sure that they made their views known to the Minister when he addressed them this afternoon.

We need to consider the attitude of the incoming French Government to the CAP. The hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Harris) made some pertinent and sensible points about that. The French Government are not sending the right signals to either their farmers or their fishermen by suggesting that they can renegotiate GATT and CAP agreements. I hope that the Minister will make it clear to the French Government that that does not set a good example to their farmers and fishermen, who now think that they can ignore bilateral agreements made in good faith.

At the heart of last year's reforms is compulsory set-aside. I shall concentrate the majority of my remarks on that and on the agri-environmental programme. Both are important areas that need reform. Although we have made valid criticisms of the agreement, I also want to make some suggestions, which I hope the Minister will think are constructive.

Set-aside was advocated by the Government even before the MacSharry proposals. It was introduced in Britain on a voluntary basis in 1988. I believe it to be a negative way to use large sums of public money and a number of hon. Members have clearly stated that they share that view. In its current form, the benefit of cutting production is doubtful. Like the previous system, the scheme benefits large farms—the larger the farm, the greater the benefit. Indeed, a report in The Sunday Times suggests that at least one landowner is receiving an income of £30,000 a year for putting his land into the voluntary set-aside scheme. Taxpayers and owners of small businesses will want to question whether that is good value for public money and whether the scheme actually provides worthwhile benefits.

The new scheme is virtually compulsory for larger farms, which must put 15 per cent. of their cereal production land into set-aside. In crude terms, the potential of that is enormous: 1.5 million acres, which is an area the size of Lincolnshire, being put into set-aside. The package of set-aside payments—the compensation that farmers can claim if they meet the targets—has increased CAP costs by 5 billion ecus, which at current prices is £3.5 billion. How can that help to achieve the target of reducing CAP costs by £8 billion?

So far, even the curbing of production—the very principle underlying set-aside—has not been that successful. Cereal production has actually risen since 1988, when the voluntary scheme was introduced. According to MAFF's figures, in 1988 some 21.1 million tonnes were produced; by 1991 that had increased to 22.6 million tonnes; and even in 1992 the figure was 21.1 million tonnes —the same as 1988—despite the fact that it was a wet year, which affected production.

I am sure that farmers would agree that set-aside is a public relations disaster for them. A Friends of the Earth publication "Set-aside: money for nothing" quoted a Northumberland farmer, Mr. Adam Harrison, as saying: If the object of the exercise had been to make farmers look feather-bedded, parasitic, corrupt and incompetent, then the new-look CAP could hardly have been bettered. Those are strong words, but farmers in my constituency tell me that they are concerned about the way in which set-aside is used and about the image that it reflects on them.

Set-aside has also cost jobs. Research by the Centre for Agricultural Studies shows that a full-time job is lost for every 130 hectares set aside. Moreover, under the present scheme the environmental benefits of set-aside are extremely doubtful. It is certainly not a return to the old system of rotation in the modern agricultural system; it means that production is intensified in the parts of farmland that are not set aside. Some of the more sensible uses of set-aside have not been encouraged.

I echo the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Ainger) about biofuels. I do not think that the recent Budget helped to encourage their use, although it surely gave the Chancellor an opportunity to provide some tax encouragement. At present, biodiesel is treated in exactly the same way as ordinary diesel in terms of duty. Rather than allowing fields to be set aside, doing nothing, the Government could encourage biofuel production—not only in the context of oilseed, but in the context of fast-growing coppice, which can be cropped and used for biofuel. That was not encouraged in the Budget; nor has it been encouraged in provision for research and development.

This morning I attended a conference with small farmers. It emerged very strongly that they feel betrayed in relation to research and development. Organisations such as ADAS—a useful organisation with a proud track record—are being turned, more or less, into private consultancies. Many small farmers simply cannot afford the assistance provided by such consultancies. If we are to encourage a more constructive use of set-aside—biofuels are just one example; there are one or two others—both ADAS and the Government have important roles to play.

Mr. Robert B. Jones (Hertfordshire, West)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree with what the Select Committee on the Environment said this week? The Committee said that it was extremely important for forestry to have its proper place in set-aside and that permanent set-aside—as it comes to be discussed by the European Commission—included the possibility of long-term planning for extra forestry in this country and elsewhere, involving all sorts of environmental benefits, both global and national.

Mr. Morley

I acknowledge that, and I pay tribute to the Select Committee's report. I thought that it made a useful contribution to this issue and, indeed, to forestry in general. I will go further and commend to the Minister the recent report of the Countryside Commission, which has also considered farm forestry and the expansion of forests. Our country has one of the lowest levels of afforestation in Europe and set-aside certainly provides opportunities in that regard—particularly in the agri-environmental package, to which I shall refer later.

We need a major reform of the common agricultural policy. We need to sweep away as many forms of production and intervention support as possible, along with all the bureaucracy that goes with them. United Kingdom farmers are efficient; they can stand up for themselves and compete, as long as they are given a level playing field. The massive sums involved in the CAP should be shifted towards environmental support and away from production support—and, if necessary, towards social support, so that people can be maintained on the land. We should ensure that small farmers are supported and rural communities and their social fabric are protected.

The Minister may well refer to the advantages of the agri-environmental package and to measures that the Government have introduced—for instance, environmentally sensitive areas, countryside stewardship schemes and naturally sensitive area schemes. I shall not be churlish; those schemes are very welcome. As my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East pointed out, they have long been Labour party policy and we argued for them long before they were fashionable. However, all those measures —welcome though they are—must be seen in the context of the huge spending involved in the CAP. They are tiny in comparison with the money directed towards them.

As we said earlier, diversification will become increasingly important. I accept that; I also accept that we need an integrated approach to rural policy. Diversification need not go against present planning laws, but the number of applications for golf courses shows that certain forms of diversification can go too far. I have nothing against golf courses, which sometimes are a useful form of diversification, but the number of applications for golf courses in, for example, the Sevenoaks area makes one wonder where all the golfers will come from and who the proposed courses are for, because they cannot be for the benefit of local people. At the current rate of applications in the Kent area, there will be one golf course for each Kent resident.

I recently visited Kent and was accompanied by the excellent Labour councillor, Sarah Goodall, who showed me around the area and drew my attention to the problem. A balance needs to be struck, and I hope that the Minister will issue guidance to local authorities in this respect.

Mr. Andrew Rowe (Mid-Kent)

I live in the middle of a golf course in Kent—it has been built around me—for which there is a considerable waiting list. The demand to play golf in Kent seems insatiable.

Mr. Morley

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is saying that it is so insatiable that everyone will live in the middle of a golf course, because some people might object to how that affects the traditional countryside in Kent. Although there is a role for golf courses in diversification, a balance must be struck.

The Minister recently announced a number of proposals, the first of which was the extension of ESAs, which is very welcome. Secondly, there is the moorland scheme to reduce grazing and, thirdly, the meadowland scheme to create public access and a review of set-aside management, which will include wildlife corridors on margins and watersides and specialist options, which I presume would involve conservation headlands.

All those measures are welcome, but if the Minister is proposing to use public money to negotiate public access, to which I do not object, I hope that he is not agreeing with the Minister for the Environment and Countryside, who was talking about charging for public access. If taxpayers' money is used for such a scheme, the public will contribute twice. Although it is a legitimate use of taxpayers' money, I do not think that the public should pay twice. I hope that the Minister is not contemplating such a payment, which could be regarded as a stroll tax on using the countryside.

If the Minister is reviewing set-aside management as part of the agri-environmental package, will he argue for the use of light grazing on set-aside land, which currently is banned, as a conservation measure to control meadows? I believe that such use is proper and I hope that he will raise that point with the Commission.

The hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson) mentioned the dates for mowing set-aside land and the effect that that has on ground-nesting species. That important point was well made.

I note that the habitat improvement scheme, which is linked to water margins, includes coastlines. Is that part of the planned retreat concept that the Minister has discussed, although it is not spelt out in the package? Nevertheless, it is welcome and useful.

Proposals have been made to assist organic farming. I hope that the Minister notes the comments of the Soil Association and the SAFE—Sustainable Agriculture Food and Environment—alliance, which argue that existing organic farmers—those who have made an investment—should receive some support.

Those are the suggestions that the Minister has made. We believe that that is exactly the kind of policy that we want to see.

We part company with the Minister, however, over the fact that the total finance for the agri-environmental package comes to a measly £19 million over three years, taking away the ESA element. The Community's budget for the agri-environmental package is less than 1 per cent. of the CAP budget. I do not believe that environmental issues will be given a high priority when only 1 per cent. of the CAP budget is being devoted to them. That pales into insignificance when compared with the £2 billion which the United Kingdom will spend on the CAP.

It is no wonder that the Council for the Protection of Rural England said of the scheme in its press release "MAFF Misses Target" that serious funding has not been attached to it". Although the Country Landowners Association welcomes the measures, in a press release that hon. Members will have seen, it said that the funding was totally inadequate.

With reference to moving to a more sophisticated range of measures, I commend to the Minister the CPRE document "Green or Mean", which outlines an extremely constructive method of using the agri-environmental package and reforming the CAP as we would wish.

The House of Lords Select Committee on European Communities produced a report entitled "The Environmental Aspects of the Reform of the CAP". It included a detailed set of environmental measures as an alternative to the set-aside proposals which are currently the heart of the CAP package. I took special note of the following comment: The Committee supports the call for payments to be made to farmers for delivering positive environmental benefits rather than doing environmental mischief. We favour payments for achieving certain pre-determined targets. I noted the Minister's opening remark that he favoured cross-compliance and wanted to target environmental support. I very much welcome that, but it is important that any shift of CAP funding to environmental support for agriculture is not used to pay farmers to stop doing what they should be doing in the first place. Payment should be made for improvements in countryside and environmental management.

As yet, there is no evidence that environmental measures are at the heart of the CAP. When the Minister returned from Brussels last year, he said that environmental measures were at the heart of the CAP but, as I have said, only 1 per cent. of the budget and a measly £19 million over three years are being devoted to such measures. At present, the CAP is a wasteful system which distorts markets. There needs to be a complete change. Environmental changes should be an integral part of the CAP and should not be regarded as a bolt-on extra as they are now.

We want a comprehensive and integrated approach to rural issues, which notes not only the cultural and social values of farming but the rural infrastructure of which the Government should take account. There should be proper rural transport, affordable rented homes, job and training opportunities and support for small village schools, shops and sub-post offices. Many of the latter are threatened by privatisation, which will not help rural communities.

We want clear objectives for support payments and a proper evaluation of the schemes that have been introduced. We welcome the identification of ESAs, which we regard as the way forward, but the money must be spent wisely. We want a rethink on the set-aside policy as it forms the basis of the CAP package.

We hope that the Government will recognise that there is now an opportunity to assist and stabilise agriculture, to protect and enhance our environment and to bring the benefits to all people, whether they live in urban or rural areas. We are currently spending a great deal of money on a wasteful and destructive system. The Opposition believe that people in this country, including farmers, are entitled to a better deal than the one that they are getting under the CAP.

We believe that we have to move in the direction suggested by the agri-environmental package and we want the CAP to be completely restructured. I do not say that that can be done overnight, or that it will be easy to negotiate with other countries to achieve it. But I believe that there is widespread support for such action across all European member states and certainly among the people of this country, whether they live in villages, towns, cities or hamlets. If the Government really believe that environmental measures should be at the heart of the CAP, they should demonstrate that by arguing for such restructuring and certainly by devoting more than a measly and inadequate £19 million over three years to it.

10.59 pm
The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. David Curry)

I shall begin with one piece of arithmetic that is essential in discussing what happens with the CAP in Brussels. There are 76 votes in the Council of Ministers, and a qualified majority consists of 54 votes. Even if one is the archangel Gabriel—my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is probably closer to the archangel Gabriel than is any other member of the Council—if one does not get 54 votes one does not get one's policy adopted. So it is no earthly use Uncle Tom Cobbley and all telling us what they will do, how they will do it, and what they will insist on; if they do not get 54 votes, that is all words, words and nothing but words.

I know that this is all most offensive to the Opposition, but the fact of the matter is that that my right hon. Friend came back with a triumph for Britain. The MacSharry proposals had to be our starting point. And what were those proposals? They were a massive piece of institutionalised discrimination against British farmers—and we wiped them out. The Opposition said that we could not do it, and of course they did not want us to do it, because that would be inconvenient for them, but we delivered on what we had promised and the farming community knows that we did.

Mr. Morley

If the Minister has delivered what he promised, will he tell us whether the £8 billion will be cut from the CAP budget?

Mr. Curry

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely innumerate. There has been a major switch in the CAP from commodity support to direct support. That is what the hon. Gentleman says that he favours, because that is what his amendment says. There is a switch in support to budgetary cost from economic cost. The gain to the consumers is the gain in total economic transfers, not a gain in budgetary costs. We have said that from the start. That is at the heart of any policy designed to switch support from the commodity. To switch support to direct income aid and support to farmers will show up in enhanced budgetary costs, because to do so reduces the economic transfers at the heart of the income switches within the system.

There have been changes in the Council. Many hon. Members have referred to the new French Government. My right hon. Friend is now the doyen of the Agriculture Council. After only three and a half years we are on our fourth French Minister, there have been three or four Irish Ministers, and I believe that the Italians have reached number five. My hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Harris) will be glad to hear that Alfredo Diana, a former colleague of ours in the European Parliament, is now the Italian Minister of Agriculture. He has a significant stake in the Italian buffalo herd, so no doubt that will give the Opposition something else to complain about. The number of Greeks has been beyond count, on immediate recollection. If we have done so badly, it is amazing that we are still there and all the others have gone. I believe that we are still here because we have delivered.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Dr. Strang) talked about GATT. It is amazing how such talk is usually framed in terms of what Europe has to do to deliver. It takes two to tango on the GATT, and we have to hear from the United States, too. We have to hear that the Americans wish to renew their fast track authority, and that the Blair house agreement remains the foundation for the agreement on agriculture. The simple fact is that we shall not see a major departure from that agreement constitute the basis for an agreement on agriculture. Many other sectors have to be dealt with, too.

Let me answer directly what my hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives said about national aid to France and to the sheepmeat sector. May I ask him if he would put these figures into the equation? I am talking now about exports of British products to France, and about live sheep. In 1991 they were up by 48 per cent. over 1990. In 1992 they were up by 63 per cent. over 1991. On sheepmeat, they were up by 36 per cent. in 1992 over 1991. In other words, we are capturing that French market. We are successful in that market. Then look at the help for British producers. Of course the devaluation helped us on our way—we do not pretend that that is not the case—but it is there and it is real, and if we had not negotiated the end of the monetary compensatory amount system that would not have come through in the benefits for farmers. It is clear what we have achieved.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

Devaluation is an indicator of a policy failure.

Mr. Curry

The hon. Gentleman is saying that the devaluation was an indication of the reverse of Government policy. What I am saying is that, as far as that affects farmers, unless we had abolished the MCA system, we would have had what existed when Labour was in power—a massive green pound gap and farmers denied the benefit of that. We have brought that to an end.

Mr. Stevenson


Mr. Curry

I will give the figures and then I will give way to the hon. Gentleman who has kept his practice from the European Parliament of making long, boring speeches.

Look at the help for producers. The ewe premium increase from the green pound factor is up by £2.65, and the additional payment for less favoured area producers is up by £2.20 a ewe. So who is winning in the battle for sheepmeat production and the battle for lamb production? It is clearly the United Kingdom. That is the point that I would ask him to put into this equation.

The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Stevenson) is absolutely bursting to get in.

Mr. Stevenson

Forgive me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I say that the Minister is obviously bored to tears. That is obvious from his presentation. He referred to the unanimous agreement of the Council to allow the French Government to subsidise its sheep producers, and then he related that to the way in which we were capturing more of the French market. Surely the logic of that is that if we capture even more of the market we shall allow the French to give even more national aid. Would he care to comment on that? What he said did not quite gell.

Mr. Curry

That is not how it was at all. We had a request from the French Government. The Council of Ministers traditionally shows a certain competence when member Governments have problems that they wish to solve. That is what the Community is about. The hon. Gentleman, who is an experienced Member of the European Parliament, will know that that is the case. He has sat in the Agriculture Committee, among others. He will know that that is the tradition by which the Community does business. There comes a point where we can say that we want nothing to do with a particular matter, that we will stick out against it and that this particular thing will not pass, and we all know that there is a point at which we are going to say that we need some benefit for ourselves or a difficulty that we need to resolve.

This happened when we came up to the problem on linseed, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) referred. There we pointed out that the Commission had made a mess of it, that we were in danger of linseed being put into the area aid payment while the seed was in the ground and that before farmers knew where they were we would have an absolute botch-up, and we needed to get an agreement that such a thing would not happen. The export of live horses has also been mentioned. Hon. Members will have received more letters on that subject than on many other issues. That and whales appear to command the particular affection of the British population. If we had not argued a special case, we would not have got the ability to do it. So I make no apology for it. It is part of the lubricant, part of the way in which the Community works.

Mr. Harris

If I may say so, my hon. Friend has missed the point that I was making. I do not necessarily blame him for that. The point that I was making was that the trade-off which was apparently entered into by our right hon. Friend was on the assurance that the French Government would do what they were supposed to do anyway, guarantee reasonable access for our products into France. That is how it appears in the letter that he himself wrote, and of which I have a copy, to the Chairman of the Select Committee on European Legislation.

Mr. Curry

What my right hon. Friend said was that there was no way that we would even agree to this being on the agenda for discussion unless the French made it clear that they would fulfil their obligations as members of the Community in respect of our trade. I must point out to my hon. Friend that we do not have a quarrel with the French Government in this respect. We have a quarrel with a good many of its citizens because of their actions, but when it came to encouraging the French Government to resolve the difficulty we had an effective response; and now that there is a new Government in power and we have opposite numbers at last we shall seek to renew those responses as soon as we can make contact with them.

Many hon. Members mentioned the GATT talks. As the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) said, a crucial decision has to be made. The talks have wide implications and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Walden) said, GATT is one of the fundamental questions that will determine the way in which agriculture goes in future. I accept his point that eastern and central Europe is the shadow looming just over the horizon at the moment. It may change our agriculture more fundamentally than will the GATT and the CAP reforms put together. That is a fundamental question that we must face.

We debated the sugar regime in Committee this morning, so I will not repeat the points on that on the Floor of the House. The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) and I dealt with the matter at some length this morning. Clearly, reform is necessary for that regime. It could be argued that it is the least attractive part of the CAP—there are a fair number of candidates for that appellation. The implications for developing countries are especially important. It is, therefore, one of the regimes that need change both because it says something about the way in which the Community works and because it has particular relevance to countries that are dependent on it.

We have rotational set-aside because we needed to take action quickly to reduce production. That has been the story of the CAP over the years. A number of years ago, people said that we needed change and that we must have high prices. There has been a history of Ministers not wishing to grasp those decisions. One gets to the point at which one must take more radical action to deal with the matter quickly. We wish that that were not the case. We are not the Government who have been unwilling to take those more difficult decisions early on. We have found that because of the 54 votes, other Governments have not been willing to take such decisions. We end up with a far more radical proposal. If one is sensible, one tries to build on that and to make something constructive out of it. We are trying to build the non-rotational scheme on to it. I am sure that the hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) welcomes that, because of the environmental benefits that can be attached. Permanent set-aside was suggested because the creation of woodlands and habitats can be linked. That will make out of a scheme that has its disadvantages something that can create a positive good.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Dr. Strang), who is overcome with tiredness at this stage, proposed a series of objectives, but no mechanisms by which to reach the objectives. The amendment is full of many extremely virtuous objectives that we should probably all like to attain, but no mechanism is specified as to how we can get from here to there. It is easy to list virtuous objectives, but if one wants the 54 votes one must have the mechanism and it must be agreed by everyone else on the Council. If not, it is not even worth trying.

Let us be equally clear about the forms. Farmers will receive a lot of money through the post. There is no point in blinking that fact or pretending that it is not the case. It will be the taxpayers' money that they receive. We must therefore ensure two points—that those who are entitled to the money get it, and that those who get the money know that it is properly accounted for because it is part of public expenditure. If one is running the scheme through the framework of supply management, there is no way in which to achieve those two points without ensuring that one knows who is getting what. That means that farmers will have to fill in forms to get the money. Farmers are filing in forms for their own income. We have, of course, made the forms as simple and sensible as we can. However, the need to have such forms is inescapable because taxpayers' money is involved. Next year, about 1.7 billion of taxpayers' money will ride on those forms. It is therefore reasonable that farmers —who are, after all, business men although they may not perceive themselves as such should deliver the forms that will guarantee their own livelihoods.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson) mentioned the problem of the mowing and cutting date and referred to I May. The date of I May is fixed for the United Kingdom as the first date on which a farmer can replace winter cover with bare fallow or with another cover, but not a crop. However, he does not have to cut as early as 1 May. He must cut at least once by 1 July, so the cutting can be delayed into June for environmental reasons, such as nesting birds. Farmers may apply to delay the cutting beyond 1 July if there are genuine environmental reasons. I am sensitive to these issues as there is in my constituency an environmentally sensitive area where late cutting dates allow seed pods to settle, flowers to seed, and nesting birds to complete their cycle of reproduction. That is very important.

The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South made at least one point with which I agree—that farming in Europe will have to face more competition in the world market if we are genuinely in a liberalising environment. We do not yet know whether we are. The GATT deal has not been multilateralised; it is simply a bilateral understanding between the Community and the United States, which has to be transformed into a deal. Because we saw that competition, we wanted the aids to be transitional and degressive. We did not want them to be permanent and, indeed, they are not permanent. We want to move agriculture to a lower-cost structure to make it more competitive. We all recognise the danger that the Community could lock itself into a high-cost system and then turn a protectionist face to the outside world. That is why we would have preferred to look for a more subtle mechanism.

Farming has got over the hump of great uncertainty, but there are more uncertainties to come, as much reform has still to be pursued. In addition, some things have not been reformed sufficiently or well enough. We all know that the beef sector is a particular problem which will return. At this time last year we would have been arguing that MacSharry was the great threat on the horizon. That threat has now dissipated, the situation has been brought under control, and farmers have benefited significantly. Thus, we are at last able, on the basis of an improving income, to say that it is a time for investment, for confidence and for opportunity, and that the Government have delivered it.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 113, Noes 209.

Division No. 228] [11.16 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)
Ainger, Nick Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Ashton, Joe Keen, Alan
Austin-Walker, John Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Khabra, Piara S.
Barnes, Harry Kilfoyle, Peter
Battle, John Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)
Bayley, Hugh Leighton, Ron
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Loyden, Eddie
Benton, Joe McAllion, John
Bermingham, Gerald McAvoy, Thomas
Betts, Clive McCartney, Ian
Boyce, Jimmy McFall, John
Bradley, Keith McKelvey, William
Burden, Richard McWiiliam, John
Callaghan, Jim Madden, Max
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Meale, Alan
Cann, Jamie Michael, Alun
Chisholm, Malcolm Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Clapham, Michael Miller, Andrew
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Morley, Elliot
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Coffey, Ann Mowlam, Marjorie
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Mudie, George
Cousins, Jim O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Cryer, Bob Pike, Peter L.
Darling, Alistair Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Davidson, Ian Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l) Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Denham, John Primarolo, Dawn
Dixon, Don Purchase, Ken
Dowd, Jim Quin, Ms Joyce
Eagle, Ms Angela Raynsford, Nick
Enright, Derek Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Etherington, Bill Rooker, Jeff
Flynn, Paul Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Sheerman, Barry
George, Bruce Short, Clare
Gerrard, Neil Simpson, Alan
Godman, Dr Norman A. Skinner, Dennis
Godsiff, Roger Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Golding, Mrs Llin Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Gordon, Mildred Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Soley, Clive
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Spearing, Nigel
Grocott, Bruce Stevenson, George
Gunnell, John Strang, Dr. Gavin
Hanson, David Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Hardy, Peter Turner, Dennis
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Wareing, Robert N
Hoey, Kate Watson, Mike
Home Robertson, John Wicks, Malcolm
Hoon, Geoffrey Young, David (Bolton SE)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Tellers for the Ayes:
Ingram, Adam Mr. Eric Illsley and
Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H) Mr. Jack Thompson.
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Adley, Robert Gorst, John
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Aitken, Jonathan Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Alexander, Richard Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Grylls, Sir Michael
Amess, David Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Arbuthnot, James Hague, William
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Hannam, Sir John
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Hargreaves, Andrew
Bates, Michael Harris, David
Bellingham, Henry Haselhurst, Alan
Beresford, Sir Paul Hawkins, Nick
Biffen, Rt Hon John Hayes, Jerry
Blackburn, Dr John G. Heald, Oliver
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Heathcoat-Amory, David
Boswell, Tim Hendry, Charles
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Horam, John
Bowis, John Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Brandreth, Gyles Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Brazier, Julian Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Hunter, Andrew
Browning, Mrs. Angela Jack, Michael
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Jenkin, Bernard
Burns, Simon Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Burt, Alistair Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)
Butler, Peter Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Butterfill, John Kilfedder, Sir James
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) King, Rt Hon Tom
Carrington, Matthew Kirkhope, Timothy
Chapman, Sydney Knapman, Roger
Churchill, Mr Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif) Knox, David
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Coe, Sebastian Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Colvin, Michael Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Congdon, David Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Lawrence, Sir Ivan
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Legg, Barry
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Leigh, Edward
Couchman, James Lennox-Boyd, Mark
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Lidington, David
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Lightbown, David
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Lord, Michael
Davis, David (Boothferry) Luff, Peter
Day, Stephen McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Deva, Nirj Joseph Madel, David
Devlin, Tim Maitland, Lady Olga
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Malone, Gerald
Dover, Den Mans, Keith
Duncan, Alan Marland, Paul
Duncan-Smith, Iain Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Durant, Sir Anthony Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Eggar, Tim Merchant, Piers
Elletson, Harold Milligan, Stephen
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Mills, Iain
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Moate, Sir Roger
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Evennett, David Monro, Sir Hector
Faber, David Moss, Malcolm
Fabricant, Michael Nelson, Anthony
Fenner, Dame Peggy Neubert, Sir Michael
Fishburn, Dudley Nicholls, Patrick
Forman, Nigel Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) Oppenheim, Phillip
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley) Paice, James
Freeman, Roger Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
French, Douglas Pickles, Eric
Fry, Peter Porter, David (Waveney)
Gallie, Phil Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Gardiner, Sir George Rathbone, Tim
Garnier, Edward Redwood, John
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Richards, Rod
Riddick, Graham Thomason, Roy
Robathan, Andrew Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S) Thurnham, Peter
Robinson, Mark (Somerton) Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Ross, William (E Londonderry) Trend, Michael
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent) Twinn, Dr Ian
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Sackville, Tom Walden, George
Shaw, David (Dover) Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Shersby, Michael Waller, Gary
Skeet, Sir Trevor Ward, John
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Smith, Tim (Beaconslield) Waterson, Nigel
Spencer, Sir Derek Watts, John
Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset) Wells, Bowen
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Spink, Dr Robert Whittingdale, John
Spring, Richard Widdecombe, Ann
Sproat, Iain Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Wilkinson, John
Steen, Anthony Willetts, David
Stephen, Michael Wolfson, Mark
Stewart, Allan Wood, Timothy
Sweeney, Walter
Sykes, John Tellers for the Noes:
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Mr. Irvine Patnick and
Taylor, Rt Hon John D. (Strgfd) Mr. Andrew MacKay.
Taylor, John M. (Solihull)

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 192, Noes 70.

Division No. 229] [11 29 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Davis, David (Boothferry)
Aitken, Jonathan Day, Stephen
Alexander, Richard Deva, Nirj Joseph
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Devlin, Tim
Amess, David Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Arbuthnot, James Dover, Den
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Duncan, Alan
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Duncan-Smith, Iain
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Durant, Sir Anthony
Bates, Michael Eggar, Tim
Bellingham, Henry Elletson, Harold
Beresford, Sir Paul Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Blackburn, Dr John G. Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Evennett, David
Boswell, Tim Faber, David
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Fabricant, Michael
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Fenner, Dame Peggy
Bowis, John Fishburn, Dudley
Brandreth, Gyles Forman, Nigel
Brazier, Julian Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Browning, Mrs. Angela Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Burns, Simon Freeman, Roger
Burt, Alistair French, Douglas
Butler, Peter Fry, Peter
Butterfill, John Gallie, Phil
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Garnier, Edward
Carrington, Matthew Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Chapman, Sydney Gorst, John
Churchill, Mr Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Clark, Dr Michael (Flochford) Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Coe, Sebastian Hague, William
Colvin, Michael Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom)
Congdon, David Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Hannam, Sir John
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hargreaves, Andrew
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Harris, David
Couchman, James Haselhurst, Alan
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Hawkins, Nick
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Hayes, Jerry
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Heald, Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, David Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Hendry, Charles Rathbone, Tim
Hill, James (Southampton Test) Redwood, John
Horam, John Richards, Rod
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter Riddick, Graham
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Robathan, Andrew
Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W) Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Hunter, Andrew Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Jack, Michael Sackville, Tom
Jenkin, Bernard Shaw, David (Dover)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Shersby, Michael
Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Kilfedder, Sir James Spencer, Sir Derek
King, Rt Hon Tom Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Kirkhope, Timothy Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Knapman, Roger Spink, Dr Robert
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Spring, Richard
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Sproat, Iain
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Steen, Anthony
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Stephen, Michael
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Stewart, Allan
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Sweeney, Walter
Legg, Barry Sykes, John
Leigh, Edward Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Lidington, David Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Lightbown, David Thomason, Roy
Lord, Michael Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Luff, Peter Thurnham, Peter
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Madel, David Trend, Michael
Maitland, Lady Olga Twinn, Dr Ian
Malone, Gerald Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Mans, Keith Walden, George
Marland, Paul Waller, Gary
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Ward, John
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Merchant, Piers Waterson, Nigel
Milligan, Stephen Watts, John
Mills, Iain Wells, Bowen
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Moate, Sir Roger Whittingdale, John
Monro, Sir Hector Widdecombe, Ann
Moss, Malcolm Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Nelson, Anthony Wilkinson, John
Neubert, Sir Michael Willetts, David
Nicholls, Patrick Wolfson, Mark
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Wood, Timothy
Paice, James
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Tellers for the Ayes:
Pickles, Eric Mr. Andrew MacKay and
Porter, David (Waveney) Mr. Irvine Patnick.
Ainger, Nick Gerrard, Neil
Ashton, Joe Godman, Dr Norman A.
Austin-Walker, John Godsiff, Roger
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Golding, Mrs Llin
Barnes, Harry Gordon, Mildred
Battle, John Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Bayley, Hugh Hanson, David
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Harvey, Nick
Bermingham, Gerald Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Boyce, Jimmy Home Robertson, John
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Callaghan, Jim Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)
Cann, Jamie Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry) Khabra, Piara S.
Chisholm, Malcolm Leighton, Ron
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Loyden, Eddie
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) McAvoy, Thomas
Cryer, Bob McFall, John
Davidson, Ian Maclennan, Robert
Dixon, Don Madden, Max
Dowd, Jim Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Eagle, Ms Angela Meale, Alan
Enright, Derek Michael, Alun
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Skinner, Dennis
Miller, Andrew Spearing, Nigel
Mudie, George Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire) Stevenson, George
Pike, Peter L. Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Tyler, Paul
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E) Watson, Mike
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Wicks, Malcolm
Purchase, Ken Wilson, Brian
Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Rooker, Jeff Tellers for the Noes:
Salmond, Alex Mr. Archy Kirkwood and
Simpson, Alan Mr. Don Foster.

Question accordingly agreed to.


That this House takes note of European Community Document No. 4608/93, on the prices for agricultural products and on related measures, 1993–94; and supports the Government's intention to negotiate an outcome on the price proposals which takes account of the interests of United Kingdom producers and consumers, builds upon the 1992 Common Agricultural Policy reforms, and takes full account of the realities of the budgetary situation.