UK slammed for hiding subsidy figures pre-election

The UK government has been criticised for not revealing details of individual subsidy payments until after the general election.

Under European Commission rules, data outlining CAP payments should have been published last week (30 April).

While statistics were published in the other 26 EU countries, the information was not made available in the UK.

A message on the DEFRA website, where the data are normally published, said: “Due to the general election campaign, this website will not be updated with the 2009 figures until after the election”.

A DEFRA spokesman said it was inappropriate to publish the information ahead of the election because some of the details could refer to people standing.

As the Civil Service needed to maintain impartiality, releasing the data could been seen to be favouring certain individuals, he said.

The information would be released “as soon as possible after the election”, he added.

The European Commission said it was unhappy with the decision.

“The commission is disappointed and is going to write to the British authorities underlining that this is not in line with the directive,” EU agriculture spokesman Roger Waite told the EU Observer., which campaigns for transparency in CAP payments, also criticised the move.

The group, led by co-founder Jack Thurston, said while 21 states had provided complete data, some member states had taken “deliberate steps” to block access.

“Perhaps the civil servants are trying to curry favour with their new bosses,” he told the EU Observer.

The data that have been released shows EU farmers have collected €38.3bn (£32.7bn) from a total CAP budget of €55bn (£47bn).

There are 1212 “subsidy millionaire”‘, compared with 1040 in 2008, with sugar companies looking to top the list.

French companies Tereos (€117.9m) and Saint Louis Sucre (€143.7m) are among the top recipients.

Full list here.

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