21 May 1998
‘Tourism and farmers hit by high Pound’

By Trevor Mason, Press Association

BRITAINS tourism and agriculture industries are being hard hit by the high value of Sterling, the Commons was told yesterday.

Lib-Dem agriculture spokesman Paul Tyler protested: “It isnt just manufacturing industry that is being clobbered by this artificial valuation of the Pound.

“Its clearly now threatening the prosperity of large swathes of rural Britain,” he said.

In a short debate ahead of the late spring break, Mr Tyler said the strength of Sterling was “causing great hardship to tens of thousands of farmers all over the country”.

Mr Tyler (Cornwall N) said it was also hitting tourism in the West Country and other parts of Britain.

People comparing Cornwall to the Costa del Sol were finding a huge disadvantage in prices when deciding on a domestic holiday against one abroad.

“We will also lose visitors from the Continent this summer because of the strength of Sterling,” he added.

Mr Tyler said the beef industry was being hit by a “double whammy” – with sales down at home because of the BSE crisis and cheaper imports flooding in from abroad because of the Pound.

He urged ministers to do more to secure a European Union compensation package for farmers, who have seen a substantial fall in incomes over recent years.

Sir Patrick Cormack, for Tories, claimed Mr Tyler “was in fact making an eloquent, veiled plea for signing up to European Monetary Union tomorrow.”

“You would not expect my support on that, but where I can endorse your comments is for the Government to make more provision for farmers. More could have been done to help the hard-pressed beef farmers in particular,” he said.

Commons Leader Ann Taylor told Mr Tyler: “You said that the strong Pound seemed to be the cause of most of the problems in North Cornwall.”

She went on: “It is not the case that the Government has not provided support for the agricultural industry. We have provided last year £1.8 billion support for that particular industry.

“You mentioned that we could have had another £1,000 million from the EU but you failed to remind us . . . that that would actually have cost the British taxpayer a great deal because the British taxpayer pays 71% of the money that is spent in that way.”