5 November 1999
‘Pesticide tax wouldn’t work’ — Tories
By FWi staff
SHADOW Chancellor Francis Maude has hit out at government proposals for a pesticide tax, saying it would do nothing to help the environment.
According to a Conservative Party survey, which Mr Maude claimed was the equivalent of an opinion poll of 500,000 people, farmers said they would barely reduce the amount of pesticides they use.
The tax would only add another unproductive cost to farmers already under extreme financial pressure, said Mr Maude.
“Any basis for contending that this tax was useful for environmental reasons has been blown out of the water,” the shadow Chancellor told Radio 4s Farming Today programme.
“Our survey shows this tax would have no serious effect at all on the amount of pesticides used.
“All it would do would be to add costs, reduce farm incomes even more, and make peoples lives miserable.”
Mr Maude also rejected suggestions that in the future a tax should be levied on genetically modified organisms.
The Cabinet is said to be split over whether to proceed with the pesticide tax.
It is thought that Chancellor Gordon Brown and environment minister Michael Meacher support a tax, while agriculture minister Nick Brown opposes it.
The Chancellor is expected to make an announcement on the proposed pesticides tax in his pre-Budget statement on Tuesday (09 November).