HC Deb 19 April 2000 vol 348 cc969-70
8. Mr. Michael Fabricant (Lichfield)

When he will next meet the Agriculture Secretary to discuss Welsh dairy fanning. [118441]

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Paul Murphy)

As I have said to the House, the agricultural summit that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister chaired earlier this month agreed on agrimonetary compensation worth about £2.3 million to Welsh dairy farmers. Other measures have also been introduced.

Mr. Fabricant

That sounds like a very big deal, but does it not cost 2p a pint more to produce milk in Wales than the money actually received at the farm gate? Is the Secretary of State aware that, when translated into real money, the announcement that he has just made is the equivalent to a subsidy of only 0.2 per cent. of 1p per pint? Is that not another example of a big Labour announcement and a small and ineffectual delivery?

Mr. Murphy

What is a big deal in Wales for dairy farmers is not only the £2.3 million to which I have just referred. It is also the removal of dairy hygiene charges, which is worth £180,000; it is the Assembly helping with marketing, processing and productivity for supermarkets; it is meetings in Cardiff with the Agriculture Secretary and it is the establishment of a dairy helpline that was recently set up to give advice to farmers. In addition to that, £15 million extra has been given to Welsh farmers to sustain them in these difficult times. That is why the farming unions in Wales have warmly welcomed the package, which is more than the hon. Gentleman has done.