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Despite qualifying for the convergence uplift only as a result of Scotland’s low payment rate, the United Kingdom Government refused to pass on the full allocation to Scotland, which was a bitter blow to Scotland’s farmers and crofters.
The then Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs promised to review the UK’s allocation of common agricultural policy funding in 2016. It is now 2016, and so I have today written to the current secretary of state urging her to set out the timetable for the review as a matter of the utmost urgency, and seeking an early discussion on its terms.
I very much welcome the news that the cabinet secretary is seeking to hold the UK Government to account for its previous promises. Has the Scottish Government estimated the financial loss to the Scottish economy from loss of those funds—which came to the UK only because of Scotland—and, if possible, of any multiplier effects that the funds would have had on our economy?
It is complete larceny that that money, which was sent to the UK Government because Scotland’s low payment rates allowed the UK Government to qualify for the uplift from the European Commission’s common agricultural funding, has been denied to Scotland’s farmers, crofters and rural communities. At the time, the payment was worth £190 million over the course of the current CAP. That is a substantial resource, given the number of questions that I have just received from members who are arguing for more investment in the agriculture sector. That money is Scotland’s money: it belongs to Scotland, but we got only a small percentage of it, whereas the whole £190 million should have come to Scotland. As Stewart Stevenson rightly said, that would have had a multiplier effect across our rural and food economies.
It is essential that the UK Government live up to its words and that it undertake the review immediately on a very short timescale, with a view to delivering Scotland’s money to Scotland’s farmers, crofters and rural communities.