Farm Incomes

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd July 1998.

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Photo of Charles Kennedy Charles Kennedy Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 12:00 am, 2nd July 1998

Following our exchanges at our last agriculture Question Time about the continuing crisis in farm incomes, and the related increase in the number of farmers and their families who are now receiving various social security benefits, does the Minister share my surprise at what was revealed yesterday by the answers to my written questions to the Department of Social Security?

Those answers reveal that the Department has no reliable data on either the number of farmers involved, or the percentage who are in need of state benefits. They also reveal that the Department's figures do not correlate with the Ministry's census figures in regard to the number of farmers in the country.

Will the Minister undertake an urgent inquiry to try to rectify the position? As he is meeting the president of the National Farmers Union tomorrow on other business, will he take this opportunity to tell us in the House—as a means of approaching the farm incomes crisis—whether he shares the NFU leadership's view that early entry into European monetary union would help to alleviate many of the current difficulties?