4. What steps her Department is taking to support food producers in Lincolnshire. (115216)
The Government are determined, as I have already described, to support British food and farming. Much of our support for businesses in Lincolnshire, including food producers, will be available through the local enterprise partnerships in the county and, of course, through the rural development programme. As I said earlier, the Government will do all that we can to encourage such businesses to export their excellent products.
My right hon. Friend will be aware of the application for protected geographical indication status for Lincolnshire sausages. The application has overwhelming public support, particularly in Lincolnshire, but it has recently been rejected by his Department, despite the acceptance of similar applications for Cornish pasties and Melton Mowbray pork pies. There is an appeal, for which new evidence has been submitted. I hope that my right hon. Friend can reassure me and the people of Lincolnshire that our compelling case for the Lincolnshire sausage will now be recognised.
Obviously, I am aware of the disappointment throughout Lincolnshire at the application’s rejection. However, given my hon. and learned Friend’s expertise, I am sure that he knows it was on valid grounds.
First, the sausages have been made outside Lincolnshire for more than 20 years. We found—[Interruption.] This is all on the public record. We found considerable variation in the recipes being used and a large proportion of so-called Lincolnshire sausages are made outside the county. If the appeal brings forward new evidence, that, of course, will be properly taken into account. I will write to my hon. and learned Friend with the final decision.
Is the Minister aware that Lincolnshire is in revolt on this issue? The last time we rebelled, it was against Henry VIII, who called us his “most brute and beestelie” of counties. This is not good enough. The Minister must support the people of Lincolnshire in this great campaign.
My noble Friend Lord Taylor of Holbeach has assured me, within the Department, of the concern expressed throughout Lincolnshire, but we have to be consistent in our application of the criteria. As I have just described, we felt that the whole application was rather too loose. We have an appeal to consider and if Lincolnshire people come forward with a variation on the application, that will also be considered.