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Slaughter Premium

13. Mr. Huw Edwards (Monmouth): If she will make a statement on the payment of the slaughter premium where livestock was culled during the foot and mouth outbreak. [38005]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Elliot Morley): The payment of the slaughter premium subsidy depends on criteria that were not met by animals culled due to foot and mouth disease. However, we understand that compensation was based on the market value of the animal, including any expectation of its subsidy potential.

Mr. Edwards: I remind my hon. Friend that several farmers in the Grosmont area of Monmouthshire had their livestock culled. The valuers indicated that the slaughter premium would be added, and answers to parliamentary questions confirm that it should have been added. Will my hon. Friend consider this matter? If those farmers are entitled to the slaughter premium, it should be paid to them.

Mr. Morley: Since my hon. Friend raised this issue, we have had significant discussions with the valuers association. The situation is a lot more complicated than it would at first appear. To provide my hon. Friend with a rough guide, from 22 March we introduced a standard valuation. Farmers had the choice of taking the standard valuation or opting for individual valuation. That standard valuation for cattle included the slaughter premium, and was used as a base line in relation to valuation, including the slaughter premium. Valuation should therefore also have included the slaughter premium. Having said that, there are some difficult cases, and we are taking advice. Generally, however, it should have been reflected in the compensation, although the rate of compensation for cattle could be regarded as generous.

Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold): I declare my agricultural interest. The Minister will be aware that I have corresponded with him and tabled written parliamentary questions about the associated issue of movement restrictions that prevented farmers from being able to get the over-30-months scheme premium during the foot and mouth outbreak. It is wholly unreasonable that, after the Government imposed movement restrictions, farmers could not then benefit from the OTMS premium. Should not the Government consider that as an associated cost of foot and mouth and pay the premium?

Mr. Morley: We have considered all the issues and examined that point closely. I repeat the point that farmers who were affected by foot and mouth of course went through a dreadful time but, throughout the outbreak, the livestock sector regarded the compensation provided as fair and generous. The compensation reflects many of the issues involved rather than the current market rate for animals.

7 Mar 2002 : Column 417

Business of the House

12.30 pm

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst): Will the Leader of the House give us the business for next week?

The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Robin Cook): The business for next week will be as follows:

Monday 11 March—Progress on remaining stages of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Bill [Lords].

Proceedings on the Consolidated Fund (No.2) Bill.

Tuesday 12 March—Opposition Day [11th Allotted Day]. There will be a debate on "The Quality of Life in London and the South East" arising on an Opposition motion.

I understand that it will be a full day's debate, but the right hon. Gentleman might confirm that shortly.

Wednesday 13 March—Conclusion of remaining stages of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Bill [Lords].

Thursday 14 March—Debate on women and equality on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Friday 15 March—Private Members Bills.

The provisional business for the following week will be:

Monday 18 March—Debate on hunting. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] I am glad that it has received so much consensus in the House.

Tuesday 19 March—Opposition Day [12th Allotted Day]. There will be a debate on an Opposition motion. Subject to be announced.

Wednesday 20 March—Progress on remaining stages of the Adoption and Children Bill.

Thursday 21 March—There will be a debate on education: 14 to 19-year-olds on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Friday 22 March—The House will not be sitting.

The House may wish to be reminded that subject to the progress of business the House will rise for the Easter recess at the end of business on Tuesday 26 March and return on Tuesday 9 April.

The House will wish to know that on Monday 18 March 2002 there will be a debate relating to enlargement in European Standing Committee B. Details of the relevant documents will be given in the Official Report.

[Monday 18 March 2002:

European Standing Committee B—Relevant European Union documents: 14117/01 and Addenda 1-13, The European Commission strategy paper on enlargement and reports on progress by applicants; 5745/02, Common Financial Framework 2004-2006 for Accession Negotiations. Relevant European Scrutiny Committee Reports: HC 152-xv and HC 152-xx (2001-02).]

Mr. Forth: I am grateful to the Leader of the House for providing us with the forthcoming business.

7 Mar 2002 : Column 418

The right hon. Gentleman will no doubt be aware that at 11 o'clock this morning the Transport Committee produced its latest report, HC 680, on the public-private partnership for the London Underground. Extraordinarily, one of its conclusions is:

A Select Committee with a Labour majority—all Select Committees have such a majority—has questioned the decision of the Secretary of State for Transport. Local Government and the Regions. Members of the Committee are not the first persons to question his decisions, and they certainly will not be the last. The Committee then adds:

Given the enormous respect that the Leader of the House has for Select Committees and his stated desire greatly to enhance their role, I am sure that he will be only too eager to confirm that there will not only be an early debate on this very important report, but that it will be on a substantive motion. I hope that he will be able to do that.

One of today's newspapers contains the headline, "Railtrack fiasco has shattered Blair's credibility in the City". It refers to the pronouncement by top fund managers in the City that said that the recent decision on Railtrack

The report adds that

Another newspaper quotes the Secretary of State for Transport as undaunted by all that and reports:

That was not the impression that Labour Back Benchers had last week when they were only too eager to support the beleaguered Secretary of State when he appeared in the House. So will the Leader of the House tell us now or make arrangements to confirm later whether, as the Secretary of State claimed to the City, Railtrack is private or whether the Secretary of State wishes his colleagues to think that it is not private? May we have confirmation one way or another?

Today's edition of the Daily Mail has the headline, "Mittal: it gets worse". May we have a debate entitled, "How many Government Departments can you buy for £125,000"? We know, do we not, that No. 10 Downing street can be bought. We know that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office can be bought. Now it would appear that the Home Office can also be bought for that same £125,000. Has the Leader of the House been briefed to reply to the question whether this story about the Home Office and Mittal is true? In a friendly gesture, I would just sound a slight health warning for the Leader of the House, reminding him to be careful what he might say about any briefing that he has had. The truth is, is it not—it is now perfectly obvious—that the Government have been bought again? I hope that the Leader of the House will be able to clarify this latest story about the rather ghastly Mr. Mittal.

7 Mar 2002 : Column 419

Yesterday, Richard Balfe, the most senior Labour Member of the European Parliament, joined the Conservative party. It is interesting that—

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover): You can have him.

Mr. Forth: I hear the hon. Gentleman—

Mr. Skinner: He is in favour of the euro.

Mr. Forth: When giving his reasons for joining the Conservative party, Mr. Balfe accused the Prime Minister of ruling Labour by fear, and then he said, as reported in The Daily Telegraph, that

It is just as well; otherwise some of us might not survive very long.

I introduce the subject of Mr. Balfe because he obviously feels that there is no scope within the Labour party for any sort of debate or difference of view, and I remind the Leader of the House that recently, at this Dispatch Box, I had to defend his hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs. Ellman) from a vicious attack by none other than the Foreign Secretary. Now I find that I must try to defend the hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvin (Mr. Galloway), who has been viciously attacked by his supposed hon. Friend, the Under–Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Bradshaw). At column 88WH—I cannot imagine what that stands for—of yesterday's Hansard, the junior Minister said about his alleged hon. Friend that he was

That then gave rise to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvin saying:


Will the Leader of the House take his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary aside and give him some quiet advice on how Ministers should stop abusing Labour Back Benchers to such an extent, otherwise they will all leave his party and join mine?

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