In the event of the Civil Service unions accepting the Government's latest offer, will my right hon. Friend do all that he can to ensure that the VAT office swiftly refunds the £150 million owed to British agriculture? Does he acknowledge that enormous hardship is being heaped upon British agriculture by the unofficial strike action, having particular regard to the fact that some farmers and growers are unable to offset PAYE and schedule D payments against VAT?
I am well aware that that has caused considerable difficulties, especially for some of our smaller farmers. Although the VAT office is not my departmental responsibility, I know that if the strike is settled my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in regard to VAT repayments, and my Department, in regard to capital grants and other payments to farmers, will take every action to get the money to the farmers as quickly as possible.