HC Deb 06 February 2002 vol 379 cc847-8
5. Mr. Michael Jack (Fylde)

Whether the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster made a submission to Sir Donald Curry's report on the future of farming. [30889]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr. Christopher Leslie)

No Cabinet Minister made submissions to Sir Donald Curry's commission, as it was established by the Government in the first place.

Mr. Jack

I am sorry that the Minister cannot say that the duchy itself made a submission to the Curry commission, which has produced the most significant report on British food and farming for many years, and offers an important way forward. In the light of its findings and the worries of duchy tenants as they see, for example, investment in more housing and changes in land management arrangements for the estate, what investment will be made in duchy farms in Lancashire to unlock their potential? When will the Minister be able to give the House those details?

Mr. Leslie

I welcome the right hon. Gentleman's recognition of the importance of the commission's findings on the future of farming. The report is full and comprehensive, and aims to make the farming industry more sustainable and profitable. Clearly, many of those issues rest with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Although the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Lord Macdonald, is in another place, I shall certainly ensure that he is made aware of the right hon. Gentleman's questions and comments.

Mr. David Drew (Stroud)

I welcome the right hon. Gentleman's comments. Is it not important that central and local government take a lead in ensuring that Curry's proposals are advanced? Anything that my hon. Friend and his right hon. Friends can do must only be to our advantage.

Mr. Leslie

Rural affairs cut across all Departments. As Ministers, we all must be aware of rural as well as urban dimensions. The Royal Society study by Sir Brian Follett will provoke discussion on a number of important issues that need to be considered, but I shall ensure that I pass on my hon. Friend's comments to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.