Whitehall dismisses Packer attack

3 December 2001

Whitehall dismisses Packer attack

By Adrienne Francis

WHITEHALL has dismissed criticism from a former high-ranking Ministry of Agriculture civil servant, report Britains newspapers.

Richard Packer, former permanent secretary at MAFF, has called for the abolition of farm subsidies which, he claims, distort the market for food.

He has also attacked the governments commission on the future of farming, predicting that its findings, due early next year, will be bland.

Under a headline “Farming review will miss the point”, The Times reports that Sir Richards comments were “dismissed” by Whitehall.

The Daily Telegraph says Sir Richard, who is remembered for his free-market views, was rebuked by Rural Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett.

He presided over MAFF during the time farmers enjoyed the highest level of subsidies they have ever received in the early and middle 1990s, it adds.

Landowners have “broken ranks” and sought to entrench the present subsidy system in a submission to the farming commission, the paper says.

They believe that further help for rural development and the setting up of co-operatives is the way ahead for farming, it continues.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that Sir Richards comments are a warning to the government not to become too “green”.

One government official told the paper that he could not comment on the comments until the pamphlet had been studied.

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