§ Mr. Jopling
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the maximum increase permitted by European Community rules for each grant made under the hill livestock compensatory allowances; and how much it would cost to implement such increases.
§ Mr. Curry
The maximum headage payment allowed under the European Community regulation governing the payment of hill livestock compensatory allowances will be 102 ecus per livestock unit from 1 January 1991. This converts, at 1991 green rates, to a maximum of £77.33 per cow and £11.60 per ewe. The current headage rates are:648W
Severely disadvantaged area Disadvantaged area £ £ Cows 54.50 27.25 Hardy breed ewes 7.50 — Other eligible ewes 4.50 2.25
The cost of increasing all these rates to the maximum possible in the United Kingdom would depend on the extent to which other financial ceilings (for example, the limit per hectare) applied, and this cannot be readily assessed. The total costs without taking account of these other ceilings would be of the order of £98 million a year.
There is provision in the European Community regulation for a higher ceiling (121.2 ecus per livestock unit) in areas where the permanent natural handicaps are serious enough to justify the higher level.