Alternative Land Use

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd March 1988.

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Photo of Mr Ron Davies Mr Ron Davies , Caerphilly 12:00 am, 3rd March 1988

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he next intends meeting representatives of the National Farmers Union to discuss the operation of the Economic Community set-aside scheme in the United Kingdom.

Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

I met representatives of the National Farmers Union on 1 March, and that was one of the topics I discussed with them.

Photo of Mr Ron Davies Mr Ron Davies , Caerphilly

Did the Minister manage to persuade the National Farmers Union that the view of the Farmers Union of Wales that the set-aside scheme is a charter for crooks and cheats was accurate?

Photo of Mr John MacGregor Mr John MacGregor Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

I do not think that is right. As in any scheme, there is obviously scope for abuse. One of my purposes is to ensure that the abuse is limited as far as possible. In any scheme, there will inevitably be some abuses. The hon. Gentleman should look on the positive side and see that it is important for environmental reasons. It is important in assisting the transitional process in the countryside and the rural communities, which he is always going on about. The scheme is important as we have to face the fact that more agricultural land has to come out of production.