§ Mr. McQuarrie
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if it is his intention that the variable premium scheme for cattle and sheep should be retained on the existing basis; and if he will make a statement.82W
scheme and the Northern Ireland development programme (Northern Ireland ADP) which are partly funded by the European Community, together with the grants paid under the agriculture and horticulture grant scheme which is aided from national funds only.
§ Mr. MacGregor
We have made it clear to the Commission that we see no justification for its proposal to abolish the beef variable premium scheme as a means of achieving economies. This would lead to a reduction of beef consumption, an increase in the Community's beef surplus, and therefore to an increase in FEOGA expenditure. The Commission's report on the sheepmeat regime contains a suggestion that the sheep variable premium should be retained, but should be subjected to a maximum weekly rate. The Commission's ideas have yet to be clarified in detail, but we have made it clear that we shall only be prepared to consider changes which do not discriminate against our producers.