HC Deb 23 March 1999 vol 328 c213W
Mr. Todd

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he has taken to allow farmers(a) to communicate with his Department and (b) to provide details for the various forms required via e-mail. [76218]

Mr. Morley

We have in place a number of measures designed to help farmers communicate with my Department and its IT systems more easily.

Under the Cattle Tracing System, movements of cattle can be communicated electronically to MAFF, particularly via markets and abattoirs.

On CAP Schemes, we are trialling the electronic submission of application forms. This will be available following on from the introduction next year of a new IT system for IACS. More immediately, we are about to introduce a facility for farmers to receive payments under these schemes via BACS.

We are also working on a number of other areas to consider electronic communications with the farmer—cattle passport application forms; health certification of animals for export purposes; and electronic submission of agricultural census and survey forms. As a precursor to this we are asking farmers via the 1999 June Census to provide an e-mail address if applicable.

My hon. Friend will also be interested to note that over 200 of my Department's forms are available on the MAFF Website, some as specimens and others to be printed off for completion. Generally, however, electronic submission of completed forms awaits further development, to safeguard matters such as physical and financial security.