24 November 1995

Minor CAP frauds: Questions asked

By Liz Mason

A HIGH number of minor CAP frauds are found by the government, peers were told this week.

In a House of Lords debate, government spokesman Lord Mackay said the 1994 fraud report indicated that the UK notified 15% of the total CAP irregularity cases. "However, those represented only 3% by value, whereas the Community average is higher than that," he said.

Labour peer Lord Peston wanted to know what happened to all those cases of minor fraud. "Are vast numbers of farmers on their way to prison at the present time?"

Lord Mackay said he could not go into detail without more notice. But spending was disallowed.

"The last year for which we had figures was 1991," he said. "At that time about 0.13% of the UK CAP spending was disallowed, whereas the Community average was 4.63%. I do not believe too many farmers land in gaol but there have been some high profile cases over the years which have been taken to court."

One of the reasons the CAP figured highly in European fraud reports is because agricultural spending accounts for over half the European budget.

The UK government is preparing a report on its arrangement for combating fraud and waste which will be discussed along with reports from other members states at the Madrid heads of state council in December.