10 May 2001
Hague will ‘get a grip on countryside’

By FWi staff

TORY leader William Hague has pledged “to get a grip on the crisis in the countryside” at the launch of his partys election manifesto.

Mr Hague said that the countryside had been devastated by foot-and-mouth and promised – if elected – to implement a strategy for recovery for farms and rural businesses.

The manifesto, which accuses the Labour government of not caring about the survival of the countryside, includes pledges for farming.

It says a conservative government would seek reform of the CAP, improve labelling requirements and make sure that farmers are not burdened by red tape.

“Farmers and other rural businesses spend too much time on form-filling and red tape,” it says.

“The next Conservative Government will not enforce European regulations any sooner or more zealously than other countries.”

In the section on farming and the countryside, the manifesto says that the party would also seek to protect the liberty and livelihoods of rural communities.

As part of this it promises to establish a new Select Committee on Rural Affairs to monitor the impact on rural communities of all aspects of government policy

Speaking at a briefing in London on Thursday (10 May), Mr Hague said: “We will work to make the rural economy viable again.”

“We will cut business rates for rural shops, pubs, garages and village post offices.”

While much of the manifesto had already been leaked, Mr Hague kept one surprise up his sleeve which is likely to appeal to rural voters.

He promised a 6ppl cut in petrol tax in his first budget, claming this would reverse one of the most unfair and indiscriminate stealth tax of all.

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