§ Mr. David Steel
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why payments under the less-favoured areas scheme are subject to the payee signing a document that he will remain in farming for a further five years or return of payments; and, in view of the difficulties this causes to those nearing the end of a tenancy or approaching retirement, if he will seek to change this requirement.
§ Mr. Hugh D. Brown
This is a specific requirement of the Directive that the EEC Commission and some member States consider to be essential for the attainment of the directive's objectives. Farmers are released from the under-taking when they reach retiral age and take the national insurance retirement pension, or if they are prevented from discharging the undertaking by material circumstances beyond their control. I am aware that this provision is causing difficulty for a small number of farmers and I am keeping the matter under review.