§ Lord Melchett
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they are aware that Mr. Fred Elliot, a member of the National Farmers' Union's Council, stated publicly on 16th November, 1982 that if the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC) did not halve the area of the proposed West Sedgemoor SSSI: "I am afraid to think of the consequences for relations between farmers and conservationists in the other parts of the Somerset Levels and moors where SSSIs are being talked about", whether they will take steps to prevent future attempts by the NFU to attack the NCC in this way, and whether they will confirm that such statements by the NFU do not accord with the co-operative approach to nature conservation which they claim to favour.
It is no business of the Government to try to prevent the National Farmers' Union, or any other body, from expressing its views. To the best of my knowledge, the policy of the NFU regarding the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 remains as set out in their press statement of 30th October, 1981, in which they welcomed the Act as a balanced piece of legislation which should command the support and confidence of farmers.