HC Deb 15 December 1999 vol 341 cc233-4W
Mr. Paice

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on his reasons for deciding not to pursue an early retirement scheme for farmers; and if he will estimate the projected cost of such a scheme. [102799]

Mr. Morley

[holding answer 14 December 1999]: In reaching a decision not to run an early retirement scheme, account has been taken of the results of consultation, an economic appraisal, and the scope for restructuring provided by other instruments under the Rural Development Regulation and elsewhere. The consultation showed that views were mixed on the benefits of a scheme. While it could contribute to restructuring, the cost would outweigh that benefit. A scheme would also be very complex and costly to administer and would be very difficult to target only to those most in need.

The cost of a scheme would depend entirely on the rates paid—which are laid down in the Rural Development Regulation—and on the targets set.