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Tobacco Growing: EU Subsidies

Baroness Jeger asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: In 1997, the EU spent 998 million ecu (£698 million, using an exchange rate of

13 Jan 1999 : Column WA78

£1 = 1.4308 ecu) on subsidies under the EU tobacco regime.

Member states contribute to the EU budget as a whole and not to any particular part. Our contribution is about 17 per cent. before our Fontainebleau abatement is taken into account.

The Government strongly disapprove of the tobacco regime, which exists as part of the common agricultural policy. We believe that the Community should progressively disengage from support for tobacco production on grounds of health and cost. We continue to press for further progress in this area following the reform of the regime agreed in June of this year.

Equine Sector: Ministerial Responsibility

Baroness Wharton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to appoint a Minister for Equine Affairs, or a Minister within the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food dedicated to equine matters, to facilitate responses and co-ordinate other ministerial interests in the sector.[HL227]

Lord Donoughue: Within the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food my honourable friend the Minister of State deals with equine health matters, and my honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary (Commons) with welfare issues. I have responsibility for equine issues which impact on the agricultural and wider rural economy.

Sleaford NSA Scheme

Earl Peel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they have decided to cease operating the Sleaford nitrate sensitive area scheme.[HL345]

Lord Donoughue: The nitrate sensitive areas scheme was closed following the Government's comprehensive spending review in order to release funds for other priority areas, including other agri-environment schemes. Where NSA measures have created wider environmental benefits, such schemes may offer a means for their retention.



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