§ Rev. Ian Paisley
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the effect of the cuts in hill livestock compensatory allowances and rises in petrol, diesel and car tax on the drift of population from rural areas; and what proposals he has to support the rural areas.
§ Mr. Ancram
With increases in incomes in the less-favoured areas in recent years, assisted significantly by improvements in livestock premiums, much reduced interest rates and controlled inflation, there is no reason to believe that these measures will have any effect on the rate of population change in rural areas. Proposals for the specific support of rural areas are contained in the Northern Ireland structural funds plan (1994–99), which, following wide-ranging local consultation, is currently under consideration by the European Commission.