Farming (Petitions)

Question Time — scottish executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 17th February 2000.

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Photo of George Lyon George Lyon Liberal Democrat 2:30 pm, 17th February 2000

To ask the Scottish Executive what action it has taken to address the concerns raised in the National Farmers Union petitions submitted to the Parliament on 11 January this year. (S1O-1142)

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

As Mr Lyon will be aware, the petitions were considered by the Public Petitions Committee and have been referred to the Rural Affairs Committee, the European Committee and the Transport and the Environment Committee. I will respond to any requests from them. At least six of the matters raised in the eight petitions call for unified action at either a United Kingdom level or a European level, and I have already commenced discussions to pursue the matter with my fellow agriculture ministers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Photo of George Lyon George Lyon Liberal Democrat

In relation to the petition on agri-monetary compensation for all sectors of the agricultural industry that have been hit by the strong pound, as Eddie George recognised when he was in Scotland earlier in the year, can the minister reassure me that he will do everything possible to make the case to the UK Treasury for matching funding, to ensure that that compensation is paid to the agricultural industry?

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

Two of the eight petitions refer to agrimonetary compensation, and having said in my earlier answer that I was pursuing that matter, I assure Mr Lyon that I am doing exactly that—ensuring that we get agrimonetary compensation paid on those two petitions.

Photo of Alasdair Morgan Alasdair Morgan Scottish National Party

In relation to the petition on the pig industry, the Prime Minister said earlier this week that he was prepared to sit down with leaders of that industry to work out a solution. Has the minister contacted the Prime Minister about that offer, or was it just another example of Labour spin?

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

I am in no position to comment on Labour spin. There might be some dubiety as to whether that question has been directed to the correct minister.

I have not had the privilege of talking to the Prime Minister about this issue, but I am aware that work continues at a Scottish and UK level, and with the Meat and Livestock Commission and the National Pig Association, to see whether there is still a possibility of securing aid for that sector.