HC Deb 13 February 1976 vol 905 cc457-8W
Mr. Roderick

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how he proposes to aid farmers adversely affected by the introduction of the Hill Livestock (Compensatory Allowances) Regulations 1975.

Mr. Peart

As my hon. Friend the Minister of State told the House on 17th December 1975—[Vol. 902, c. 1569]—when these regulations were debated, it has been decided to give special assistance to certain farmers who benefited from the former hill livestock schemes but who are ineligible for compensatory allowances. First, subject to consultation with the EEC which is already in hand, some 1,200 farmers to the United Kingdom with less than the necessary minimum three hectares (7.41 acres) of hill land will receive special flat-rate payments of £40 in each of the years 1976 and 1977. Secondly, there are about 100 farmers who, since the review of hill land in 1963, have been outside the hill line in England and Wales but have been able to claim concessionary payments of hill cow subsidy. This will no longer be possible under the new regulations, but arrangements will be made for them to receive, for 1976 and 1977, special payments which will assure them of the same level of support by way of headage subsidies on hill cows as they have been receiving.

It is proposed that these payments, which are intended to ease the impact for farmers no longer eligible, should rely upon the authority of the Estimate and the confirming Appropriation Act. I and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland shall in due course be submitting a Supplementary Estimate for 1975–76 and in the meantime we propose to have recourse to the Contingencies Fund for making these payments.

Finally, there are some farmers who stock sheep and cattle fairly heavily and who will receive less than previously as a result of the overall financial limitation of 50 units of account (£28.48) per hectare in the EEC directive. I appreciate the problems this may cause for these farmers and am reviewing the situation. But any improvement in their position depends on a change in the directive and is a matter for negotiation in the EEC Council of Ministers.