Landowners want ministry scrapped

24 April 2001

Landowners want ministry scrapped

By Isabel Davies

A LOBBY group representing landowners and rural businesses has called for the Ministry of Agriculture to be abolished.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) wants MAFF to be scrapped and replaced by a new department for the countryside.

CLA president Anthony Bosanquet said he believed that scrapping MAFF was the only way the government can deliver a coherent rural policy.

“Without a coherent approach in Whitehall no government can success in the countryside, nor can the countryside flourish,” he said.

The proposal is a key element in the CLA election wish-list document entitled For the Good of the Country launched in London on Tuesday (24 April).

A new ministry, which the CLA calls the Department for the Countryside and Agriculture, would take on the MAFF portfolio, the document says.

Countryside functions of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions would also come under its remit, it adds.

Under the CLA proposals, health, education, housing and social services would not be included in the new ministry as they overlap with urban issues.

CLA political advisor Nick Way said he believed that the idea of an over-arching rural ministry was one gaining currency in Whitehall.

“It seems that the government is looking at this, not just as an academic exercise but as something that can give it solutions.”

Mr Bosanquet said the Governments pre-planning for the foot-and-mouth crisis was “a national disgrace”.

The inevitable post-mortem would provide an opportunity for major change, but if this was lost the issue would slip off the agenda for a long time, he said.

In its election document the CLA also calls for the Common Agricultural Policy to be redirected from quantity to quality.

And greater resources should be given towards environmentally-friendly land management, and rural development.

The group also calls for a strong code of conduct for supermarkets and tax and planning incentives to encourage rural diversification.

“We need to look ahead, beyond foot and mouth, we need to give the next government a map to steer farming to firmer ground,” said Mr Bosanquet.

“And we need to give the people who live and work in the countryside the tools they need to build their own future.”


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