§ 22. Mr. Wigley
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the future of the sheep variable premium.
§ Mr. Donald Thompson
In the context of steps to unify the sheep support regime, the Commission has proposed phasing out the sheep variable premium. Offsetting this measure would be the payment of a larger premium on ewes and the ending of the clawback charge on our exports. We have pointed out that the variable premium does have some particular advantages as a means of support in the sheep sector. We shall be pressing to ensure that our producers continue to have the ability to capitalise on their natural advantages, to increase their market share and to develop exports.