03 July 1998
Government ‘browbeating’ farmers over Euro

By Trevor Mason, Parliamentary Chief Reporter, PA News

THE Government was accused in the Commons yesterday (Thursday) of trying to “browbeat” farmers into abandoning their opposition to a single currency.

But Agriculture Minister Jack Cunningham dismissed the charge from Tory Euro-sceptic Christopher Gill (Ludlow) at question time.

To Labour jeers, Mr Gill said: “Isnt the real reason why the Government refused to pay the full amount of agrimonetary compensation because they are trying to browbeat individual farmers into abandoning their opposition to a single currency?

“Im not talking about the views of the NFU … Im talking about the views of individual farmers.

“The views of the NFU are in many respects as different and out of touch with the views of individual farmers as the views of the Government are out of sympathy with public opinion.”

Dr Cunningham replied: “Even for your fevered anti-European imagination, that one really is a tall story.

“The reality is that this is the first administration ever to pay agrimonetary compensation to farmers.

“Weve paid 95% of the total available to sheep farmers and 75% of the total available to beef farmers.”

He said he had announced in February that a total of £85 million would be paid out to the beef and sheep meat sectors.