asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs why the United Kingdom delayed signing the European Convention on the Social Protection of Farmers; and if he will make a statement.
The Government fully support the general aims of this Convention but consider it essential that the pattern of Government assistance to the United Kingdom farming industry should be determined primarily by specific United Kingdom needs and by the requirements of EEC policy. Signature of the Convention was, therefore, delayed pending the outcome of the review of United Kingdom farm structure schemes. The revised schemes were approved during the last Session of Parliament and came into force on 16th December 1976. The Government now intend to sign the Convention in the near future, but with reservations on Articles 1 and 5 and an interpretative statement about the application of Article 7.