§ Mr. David Shaw
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the achievements of(a) his policies and (b) his Department in helping small businesses over the last 12 months as against the previous 12 months; and if he will publish the performance indicators by which his Department monitors those achievements and the statistical results of such monitoring.
§ Mr. Curry
The Government continue to place a high priority on helping small businesses through improvements to the business climate, through deregulation and other measures, and through specific programmes of support and assistance.
The Department has continued to contribute significantly to this process. We have maintained pressure for a more market-orientated common agricultural policy, both in the 1991 price-fixing agreement and in the discussions on reform of the CAP which commenced in February and have recently resumed. A reformed CAP, along lines acceptable to the United Kingdom, together with worldwide reforms to systems of agricultural support being negotiated in the current GATT round, would provide further encouragement for competitive and efficient agricultural industry. Change on these lines would be in the long-term interests of both larger and smaller farms.
We have also continued to offer farmers the opportunity to diversify their enterprises and income-generating activities through our various schemes including the farm woodlands scheme, set-aside, the farm diversification grant scheme and the environmentally sensitive areas scheme. We are reviewing the first round of environmentally sensitive areas and are consulting on our proposals for change.
All the schemes operated by the Department are closely monitored. Reports on particular schemes are published from time to time.