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Department Of Agriculture And Fisheries

Volume 130: debated on Thursday 31 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will detail the current annual expenditure involved in the provision of (a) the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Scotland, area office in Inverness and (b) the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Scotland, area sub-office in Dingwall; if he will give his estimate of the anticipated annual savings which will accrue from the closure of the latter; and if he will make a statement.

The current annual expenditure, including the cost of administration support staff, involved in the provision of: (a) the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland Area office in Inverness is £205,247 and (b) the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland Area sub-office in Dingwall is £35,710. The anticipated annual savings resulting from the closure of the latter is estimated to be £22,000.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will provide a breakdown of the number of farmers and crofters within the district covered by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Scotland, area sub-office in Dingwall; how many obtain their information and services from the area office in Inverness; what information and services are sought from Inverness rather than Dingwall; and if he will make a statement.

A total of 1,174 farmers and crofters are located within the district presently covered by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland area sub-office in Dingwall. All of those farmers and crofters within that district requiring information and services in relation to certain schemes obtain these from the area office in Inverness. Information and services sought from Inverness include advice and guidance from surveying staff in relation to capital grant schemes, crofting counties agricultural grant schemes, crofters building grants and loans schemes, procurement of labels under the seed potato labelling scheme, and veterinary services in relation to animal heath schemes.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received concerning the proposed closure of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Scotland, area sub-office in Dingwall; and if he will make a statement.

Representations concerning the closure of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland area sub-office in Dingwall have been received from the Dingwall community council and also from the Dingwall and district chamber of commerce.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his policy towards the retention of Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Scotland, area sub-offices; if he will list all such offices in the Official Report; whether he is considering any Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Scotland, territorial areas for further rationalisation; and if he will make a statement.

Retention of Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland area sub-offices depends on the location of the individual area sub-offices in relation to the area offices themselves and on the extent to which these offices can be justified for the maintenance of an economical and efficient service. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland area sub-offices are presently located at:

  • Dingwall
  • Lerwick
  • Lairg
  • Stornoway
  • Benbecula
  • Elgin
  • Cupar
  • Stirling
The operational need for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland area offices and sub-offices is kept under review on a continuing basis.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the nature and extent of public consultation which took place prior to his decision to close the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Scotland, area sub-office in Dingwall; which representative public bodies were involved and what was the nature of any submissions made by them; what was the time between the commencement of such consultations and the announcement of his decision; and if he will make a statement.

The decision to close the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland area sub-office in Dingwall was made in the light of the need to make the most economical use of resources without impairing the efficiency of the service provided to the agricultural community. My noble Friend, the Minister of State, had regard to the good communications between Dingwall and Inverness and to the fact that, as well as certain services provided direct from the area office of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland, the animal health divisional office and the college advisory services for the Dingwall area are already provided from Inverness. No public consultations were carried out at this time.