HC Deb 18 July 1996 vol 281 cc1285-6
2. Mr. Budgen

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the mechanisms for distributing payments made under the common agricultural policy to European Union farmers. [36406]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Tony Baldry)

Payments under the various CAP schemes are distributed to eligible applicants in accordance with each member state's administrative procedures.

Mr. Budgen

Does my hon. Friend agree that the most important distribution is between the European Union and member states? What proportion of the enormous payments that will be made to British farmers under the BSE eradication scheme will be met by the common agricultural policy?

Mr. Baldry

The European Community confirmed only recently that it will meet about 70 per cent. of market value under the selective cull scheme.

Mr. Skinner

Does the Minister recall that, several weeks ago when a couple of statements in the House referred to the outbreak of BSE, I said that some casualties would probably not get compensation? Those include meat packers, lorry drivers in the meat distribution industry, and various others, many of whom have been made redundant during the past several weeks. Will he assure me that such people will be considered for compensation, just like the farmers? Is anything on offer for those people, many of whom are now in the dole queue?

Mr. Baldry

We made it clear from the outset that we shall support parts of the market that are essential for keeping the beef market going, and the renderers and abattoirs have been given help where necessary. Inevitably, however, some people, including farmers, will have suffered losses as a consequence of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee's announcements on 20 March. It would never have been possible to compensate everyone for the consequences of what has happened to the beef market, and we have never disguised that fact.

Mrs. Gorman

Is my hon. Friend aware of the recent report about the CAP produced in the European Union, which says that 20 per cent. of farmers get 80 per cent. of the CAP budget? In terms of population, that translates into less than 1 per cent. of the population of the European Union picking up 40 per cent. of the £60 billion budget. Does he agree that never in the field of human subsidy has so much been given by so many to so few?

Mr. Baldry

Farmers receive the payments for which they are eligible under the CAP. My hon. Friend's question suggests that more money should be directed towards smaller farmers, but that would hinder efficiency, distort competitiveness and discriminate against United Kingdom farmers. Generally, United Kingdom farmers have larger farms than farmers elsewhere in the European Union, and they benefit under these arrangements.

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