§ Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What rates of aid will be paid to beef and sheep producers as a result of the package announced on 22 December 1997. [HL448]
§ Lord Donoughue:
My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food indicated in his statement that consultation with the Commission would be necessary. The Commission was not able to approve my proposals for an increase in HLCA rates for one year only, but Commissioner Fischler has co-operated with him in devising an acceptable alternative which maintains the overall value of the package at £85 million and divides the benefit between sheep and beef producers as he had originally proposed. He will now therefore be utilising £85 million of the EU compensation available to offset the effects of sterling green rate revaluations. £72.5 million will go to suckler cow producers on the basis of their 1996 claims; £12.5 million will go to sheep producers on the basis of their 1997 ewe premium claims. The latter sum will be drawn from compensation to be calculated in respect of the livestock headage payments whose rate is determined each year by the green rate applying on 1 January.
For suckler cows, the rate of aid will be £44.20 per head. Precise figures for sheep will be determined shortly, but my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food expects them to be around 50p per head at the basic rate and 73p per head in the LFA.
My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will separately be laying an order maintaining HLCA rates for 1998 at their 1996 levels.