Agriculture (Wales)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:53 am on 14th January 1998.

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Photo of Mr Huw Edwards Mr Huw Edwards Labour, Monmouth 9:53 am, 14th January 1998

and, of course, with the hon. Members for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) and for Montgomeryshire (Mr. Öpik) and all other hon. Members who contributed to that event. That shows that, when there is a national crisis, it is important that we do not indulge in futile political point scoring.

I also pay tribute to the representatives of the main farming unions in Wales for the way in which they have briefed Members of Parliament, for their determined campaign on behalf of their members and for the evidence they submitted to the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs, whose brief inquiry into the crisis in Welsh agriculture is still going on. Like other hon. Members here today, I am honoured to be a member of that Select Committee.

The thousands of Welsh farmers who lobbied Parliament demonstrated their concern about the serious crisis in Welsh agriculture, which will have an impact on the Welsh economy in general and in my constituency. More recently, I addressed a mass meeting in Abergavenny of more than 300 farmers, who asked a wide range of questions, which I have sent to my hon. Friend the Minister. They ask whether consideration could be given again to supporting farmers for the end product, although I doubt whether that is likely to happen; and they want further assurances about the labelling of meat.

As the right hon. Member for Caernarfon said, there is considerable concern about payments overdue from September, October and November, and concern that equivalent payments from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in England have been made, whereas those from the agriculture division of the Welsh Office have not.