§ Mr. Nicholas Brown:
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of a voluntary early retirement scheme for tenant sheep farmers, funded from the surrender of sheep premia. 
§ Mr. Bradshaw:
Early retirement schemes have in the past been judged to provide poor value for money. For this reason, we have not used the provision in the EU Sheepmeat Regime permitting the Sheep National 138W Envelope to be used to buy out sheep premium quota rights to establish an early retirement scheme; last year's Sheep Quota Purchase Scheme was intended to help address environmental problems caused by high sheep numbers in some upland areas. Direct payments under the Sheepmeat Regime will be made for one further year, but will be replaced from 2005 by Single Payments under the reform of the CAP agreed in June.