17 December 1999
Brown rejects sleight-of-hand jibe
By Isabel Davies
AGRICULTURE minister Nick Brown has hit back at suggestions that he gave false hope to farmers about the value of his September aid package.
The agriculture select committee had accused Mr Brown of disappointing farmers by presenting the package in a difficult-to-understand manner.
The announcement was so ambiguous that some media reports subsequently reported the value of the aid as anything between £1 million and £500m.
But Mr Brown has now issued a press statement in which he reasserts his claim that the package contained £150m of new money for farmers.
And he dismissed claims from many farmers and critics that the only new money contained in the aid was £1m for marketing schemes.
“I announced £150m in new money in September — £89m in charges, £60m in [hill payments] and £1m in marketing support.”
Mr Brown also rejected accusations that the package was poorly presented, saying that a statement had fully detailed the measures he was announcing.
The committee had asked Mr Brown not to give false hope to farmers who were likely to hear news of aid packages from limited media stories.