§ Mr. Alex Carlile
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the French Government's authorisation of an aid package to French sheep farmers, with regard to this action's effect on sheep farmers in Wales.
§ Mr. Redwood
The announcement of the French support for its sheepmeat industry was made comparatively recently and we do not, therefore, have sufficient details to be able to assess its impact on Welsh sheep farmers. However, under articles 92 and 93 of the treaty of Rome, national aid schemes are strictly controlled in order to prevent unfair competition. Member states must obtain the prior approval of the Commission for any new state aids or modification to existing aids. The Commission has the authority to require the abolition or amendment of any scheme including the repayment of any aid paid illegally.
We are making inquiries of the Commission to determine the status of this particular aid scheme.
§ Mr. Ron Davies
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food about sheep scab; and what plans he has to make sheep scab a fully notifiable disease.
§ Mr. Redwood
Sheep scab is a disease which can be controlled readily by individual farmers, who are well aware of the preventive measures and procedures needed to deal with it. A recent official surveillance programme at markets and sales has indicated that the number of affected sheep has increased from the levels recorded before deregulation. Sheep scab can lead to serious welfare problems and has commercial implications for farmers and the leather industry. The Government therefore propose to carry out a publicity campaign to encourage farmers to treat their sheep. To ensure that farmers take their welfare responsibilities seriously, sheep suffering from scab will be required to be removed from markets for treatment and the vendor may be prosecuted.