HL Deb 31 October 1994 vol 558 c52WA
Viscount Davidson

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the outcome of the Agriculture Council held in Luxembourg on 24th and 25th October.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe)

This meeting of the Agriculture Council, at which my right honourable Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food represented the United Kingdom, again discussed the question of stronger rules for the protection of animals in transport. Member states views continue to diverge substantially and no agreement was reached. My right honourable friend made clear the importance he attaches to limits on travelling time and proper enforcement.

The Council also discussed a proposal from the Commission for a reduction in the required rate for set-aside for arable crops to be harvested in 1995. In the absence of an opinion from the European Parliament, no formal decision could be taken. But it was established that a qualified majority of the Council existed in favour of a reduction of three percentage points. My right honourable friend supported this reduction, which the Commission have assured the Council will be budget-neutral, and which will help to keep cereals market prices down and thus benefit the livestock sector.

The Council considered a discussion document from the Commission on reform of the support system for fruit and vegetables. My right honourable friend regarded their ideas as a step in the right direction but hopes that more radical changes can be agreed. The Commission intends to present detailed proposals shortly.

Finally the Council adopted by unanimity various detailed amendments to the rules for granting aids of a structural nature. Among other things, these make it optional, rather than obligatory, for member states to operate schemes of aid for investment on farms.