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Educational Access Programme

Volume 520: debated on Thursday 9 December 2010

2. What recent representations she has received on her Department’s funding for the educational access programme. (29439)

The countryside provides a wonderful learning environment and many organisations do valuable work. My Department will continue to provide funding for educational access through existing agri-environment agreements and through capital payments under new higher level stewardship—HLS—agreements. We are also investigating ways of encouraging the continued provision of educational access, and of addressing the barriers that currently exist.

I am very grateful for that answer—I am delighted to hear it. I hope the Minister agrees that my constituents John and Kathy Charles-Jones, who provide access to farms for schoolchildren, do an excellent job of showing the next generation how technology and high levels of animal welfare are playing a big part in food production for the nation.

I and my ministerial colleagues are passionate about getting more people in this country to understand how our food gets from field to fork. We are impressed with the work that so many farmers, charities and other organisations do. We are listening to representations that several organisations are making to us. We want to see whether we can expand what goes on in the next phase of HLS schemes, to secure the capital payments and to work out ways we can eliminate some of the barriers to encouraging schools to get on to farms. That can include changing health and safety provision.