Optimism over Budget treatment of HLCAs
By Peter Bullen
LIBERAL Democrat MPs are optimistic about the level of hill livestock payments to be announced in the Budget later this month.
After a Commons committee debate on hill livestock compensatory allowances, Liberal Democrat farm spokesman Paul Tyler said it could lead to "substantial improvements in support of hill farming."
He said MPs from all Parties and all the main hill areas had left junior farm minister Tim Boswell in no doubt that HLCA levels must be restored to 1992 levels.
"It was obvious from the ministers response to our detailed submissions that he really does understand the severity of the crisis," said Mr Tyler.
"We have strengthened his arm for the coming fight with the Treasury.
"I really do believe that the economic clouds may be lifting."
But during the debate the minister took pains to point out that this years public expenditure round will be very tough.
Against the background of increased livestock headage payments the 1996 HLCA rates were bound to come under "severe but proper scrutiny" he said.
"Other direct livestock subsidies are now much more significant. It is important to put that in context," he said.