HC Deb 15 September 2004 vol 424 cc1257-8
5. Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con)

What discussions he has had with the First Secretary on compensation to farmers for fallen sheep. [187923]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Don Touhig)

No compensation is available to farmers for fallen sheep in Wales. However, a national fallen stock scheme has been set up to provide farmers with a means of disposing of their fallen stock. The scheme is due to be launched in autumn this year.

Michael Fabricant

The Minister will know that there are currently 25 outlets for disposal of fallen sheep in Wales, but does he also know that 20 of them are run by hunts? If the Hunting Bill is passed tonight, only five will be left. What will be the extra cost to farmers?

Mr. Touhig

I take the hon. Gentleman's point. In setting up the national scheme, we seek to tackle the problems throughout the country. Issues will arise from whatever the House decides later, but there is a free vote and I do not want to prejudge the result.

Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy) (PC)

Does the Minister agree with the farming unions in Wales that imposing a flat rate on the disposal of fallen stock would be far fairer than penalising those who live in more problematic, less accessible areas? What evaluation have the Government made of the huge likely increase in predation of lambs as a direct result of the ignorant move made by the Government today?[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

I must ask the House to come to order. The Chamber is very noisy. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Perhaps those who are cheering me will be quieter.

Mr. Touhig

I take the hon. Gentleman's first point. Discussions have taken place, and the introduction of the national scheme this autumn is a result of joint efforts by Government and the farming industry. There will of course be transitional financial support during the first three years, which will help farmers who are currently having a difficult time.

I also take the hon. Gentleman's second point, but I am not in a position to answer it at this stage. I will write to him.