Professional Fees

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture and Rural Development – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:30 pm on 29th May 2001.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 3:30 pm, 29th May 2001

4. asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to confirm whether pig farmers, who were refused assistance under the pig outgoers scheme, will have their professional fees reimbursed.

(AQO 1544/00)

Photo of Ms Brid Rodgers Ms Brid Rodgers Social Democratic and Labour Party

No. All potential applicants to the outgoers scheme had to provide a professional estimate of the losses they incurred by keeping out of pig production for 10 years. When issued with an application form, applicants were advised that no aid, be it compensation for loss or for valuation fees incurred, would be paid if the bid failed.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I am very disappointed by that response. Around 80 farmers missed out on the pig outgoers scheme, and most of those had had to pay approximately £350 plus VAT to make those applications. That is a relatively small figure for the Department to find, yet it would help alleviate the losses incurred by those who did not gain support under the pig outgoers scheme.

I appeal to the Minister to reconsider the hard-pressed farming community, particularly the pig farmers, and show some compassion in this instance.

Photo of Mr Donovan McClelland Mr Donovan McClelland Social Democratic and Labour Party

I am not sure that there was a question in there.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

There very clearly was.

Photo of Mr Donovan McClelland Mr Donovan McClelland Social Democratic and Labour Party

It appeared to be more of an appeal than a question.

Photo of Ms Brid Rodgers Ms Brid Rodgers Social Democratic and Labour Party

There was no question in there. However, I want to make it clear that in the second outgoers’ scheme, a large number of those who applied were successful. There were 282 successful applicants the second time around. I am pleased to say that that represents a high percentage.

It is unfortunate that some outgoers suffered the loss of the professional fee. It would be great if we had the money to pay for all of that, but we made it clear at the time that if they did not succeed in the tendering process, then we would not be in a position to pay. As in all elements of life, there is a certain amount of risk. I regret that we are not in a position to pay, but we made that clear in the beginning.

Out of the 517 original applicants, 87 were successful in the first tranche and 282 the second time. Therefore, only 148 out of the 517 did not make it.

Photo of Joe Byrne Joe Byrne Social Democratic and Labour Party

When will the Department be able to pay those farmers who met the criteria in the second scheme?

Photo of Ms Brid Rodgers Ms Brid Rodgers Social Democratic and Labour Party

The payments to those who were successful in the first outgoers’ scheme are about to be made and will be worth £0·85 million to the 87 successful applicants. The payments to the 323 who were successful in the second outgoers’ scheme will be made as soon as possible.