HC Deb 24 July 1990 vol 177 cc207-8W
Mr. David Shaw

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the achievements of(a) his policies and (b) his Ministry in helping small businesses over the last 12 months as against the previous 12 months; and if he will publish the performance indicators by which his Department monitors those achievements and the statistical results of such monitoring.

Mr. Maclean

The Government have continued to place high priority on helping small businesses, through improvements to the business climate, through deregulation and other measures and through specific programmes of support and assistance.

The Department has continued to contribute significantly to this process. We have maintained pressure for a more market-oriented common agricultural policy, and the 1990 price-fixing agreement consolidated the progress made last year. These achievements, together with the reforms to systems of agricultural support worldwide being negotiated in the current GATT round, will further encourage a competitive and efficient agricultural industry, well placed to compete with its counterparts in other Community countries.

We have also continued to make available to farmers a range of income-generating schemes—for example the farm woodlands scheme, set-aside, the farm diversification grant scheme and the environmentally sensitive areas scheme—designed to encourage them to diversify their enterprises, as well as provide opportunities to enhance the environment. We have recently launched pilot schemes to encourage more extensive farming of beef cattle and sheep.

All the schemes operated by my Department are closely monitored. Reports on particular schemes are published from time to time.