§ Mr. Silvester
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list initiatives by his Department which have been of benefit specifically to the north-east, north-west and Yorkshire and Humberside regions since 1979.
§ Mr. Jopling
My Department's concerns are to foster efficient and competitive agriculture, fisheries, food and drink manufacturing and distribution industries, to meet the needs of consumers and to ensure a reasonable balance between the interests of agriculture, the economic and social interests of rural areas, the conservation of the countryside and the promotion of its enjoyment by the public. This includes the very wide range of activities for the benefit of all parts of the country, from the provision and administration of support arrangements to disease eradication programmes and advice. There are a number of initiatives which have been of particular benefit to the regions listed. For example, these contain over half the holdings eligible for permanent special aids for less-favoured areas following the 22 per cent. extension of these areas negotiated in 1984. Other initiatives include exceptional weather aid in 1985, aid this year to compensate for losses arising from Chernobyl contamination, contributing to the Countryside Commission's Operation Groundwork, the launch to date of over 30 schemes approved under the farm and countryside initiative in England providing over 760 places for unemployed people, and specific flood alleviation projects. Also, a new animal health centre was opened at Barton Hall in 1985 providing services to the north-west and Yorkshire and we are establishing an environmentally sensitive area in the Pennine dales. Further, over £11 million or over three quarters of payments under schemes to restructure the fishing industry introduced in late 1983 have benefited these regions.