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EU Convergence Uplift Funding

Volume 617: debated on Wednesday 23 November 2016

5. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on achieving a fair allocation of the convergence uplift funding from the EU. (907322)

The Secretary of State for Scotland has had numerous discussions with me about the intra-UK budget allocations under the common agricultural policy. I have also had discussions on this issue with the National Farmers Union Scotland, Scottish Members of Parliament and the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity.

The convergence uplift is worth €230 million, and the UK Government are withholding that money, which should be supporting Scotland’s rural economy. Scotland’s farmers deserve fairness. When will Scotland’s man in Cabinet, by which I mean the Secretary of State for Scotland, do something about this, or will he continue to do nothing?

I simply say to the hon. Gentleman that we will provide an update on the review of CAP allocations before the end of this year. I add that the context has changed fundamentally, following the decision to leave the EU. Some argue that the area-based payments as required under the CAP have never suited Scotland very well. Indeed, NFU Scotland has previously raised concerns about the level of payments going to very large landowners, arguing that we should instead direct support to farmers and producers through livestock payments. We now have an opportunity to look at all of these issues, and I shall work closely on that with NFU Scotland and its talented team of officials.

What we really seek in Scottish questions is the confirmation that the Secretary of State for Scotland backs Scottish farmers and will get this promised money delivered. It is fantastic that we have the Minister with responsibility for farming here, but all we have heard so far is no detail and “just warm words”, to quote the Secretary of State. Can we have the detail put in place and give Scottish farmers what they deserve?

I completely disagree with the hon. Gentleman. As I made clear, the Secretary of State for Scotland discusses this issue with me regularly. I am passionate about Scotland, and I have discussed this issue with NFU Scotland from January onwards. We are working on joint proposals and joint agreements as regards post-Brexit agricultural policy.