HC Deb 05 May 1994 vol 242 cc828-9
4. Mr. Lidington

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will make a statement about the Government's policy on farm diversification.

Mr. Jack

My right hon. Friend has recently launched four rural economy booklets whose intention is to provide farmers with easy access to information on how to develop, diversify and improve their businesses.

Mr. Lidington

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Government's support for diversification is being threatened by an Inland Revenue decision that the various components of a diverse rural enterprise should be treated as discrete entities for tax purposes? Will he and his colleagues, both in MAFF and in other Departments, take seriously the constructive proposals from the National Farmers Union and the Country Landowners Association on how the problem might be overcome?

Mr. Jack

My hon. Friend asks his question at an appropriate time because currently £70 million of farm output in England and Wales is accounted for by diversified activity. At the heart of his question lies a report by Sir Michael Bunbury, which has already been the subject of discussion with my colleagues at the Treasury. As a result of that, I understand that Sir Michael has been asked to do further work on the subject. That is where the matter rests, but I will draw my hon. Friend's concern to the attention of my right hon. and hon. Friends at the Treasury.