whether this body is calling evidence; if so, how many witnesses have been heard to date, and what are the interests they have represented; whether it is receiving offers to give evidence or submit statements; whether any effect is given to these offers; and whether, in view of the present Crisis in Agriculture, he will expedite the deliberations of this Committee?
As regards the agricultural side, no less a person than the Minister of Agriculture, a few days ago, hoped to relieve the present Crisis in Agriculture by promoting co-operation in that industry, and he quoted Denmark as an outstanding example of what co-operation will do or agriculture.
Mr. OSWALD LEWIS asked the Minister of Agriculture what answer, if any, he has given to the communication received from the agricultural workers' section of the Transport and General Workers' Union calling his attention to the serious Crisis in Agriculture and asking for an immediate declaration of assistance?
Major CARVER asked the Minister of Agriculture if he can now make any statement as to the policy of the Government respecting remedial measures for the present Crisis in Agriculture?
The Minister was asked the other day by the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Croom - Johnson) whether he had received a copy of a resolution by the North Petherton Labour party, passed on 15th March, in which they stated that they viewed with concern the Crisis in Agriculture, the increased unemployment amongst agricultural workers, the amount of land going rapidly out of cultivation, and the lack of confidence created, and called upon the Government to save the situation by making an immediate declaration of assistance to tide the industry over a crisis.
It may not be unnoticed that the Crisis in Agriculture has deepened somewhat rapidly with the increase of unemployment in the towns.
We are at a Crisis in Agriculture.
The Crisis in Agriculture is not one affecting this country only.
I do not say that that is the case always, for there are certain examples to the contrary, but if we, faced with the economic Crisis in Agriculture in 1931, had not renewed efforts to secure voluntary co-operation, then indeed the plight of agriculture would have been desperate.
The Government have been spending a great deal of money in dealing with the acute Crisis in Agriculture caused by the fall in prices and they have had very great success in dealing with that acute crisis.
We know that if the loss of fertility, the loss of working capital, the dilapidations which are piling up on the farms, and, most serious of all, the constant drift of labour, particularly the young men, from the countryside to the town, continue at the pace of the last few years the real Crisis in Agriculture will come in quite a short time, and it will come through the lack of skilled labour on the land.
But the point is that we are about to face a really major Crisis in Agriculture, and we must be prepared to alter our existing priorities in the allotment of houses.
I urge the Minister to stop talking about the Crisis in Agriculture and, in the months ahead to go forth into the country, having equipped himself with a team of personal liaison officers, to keep him in touch with the work of the county committees.
They have memories of the 'twenties and 'thirties, when the Crisis in Agriculture had its repercussions all over the world.
Notwithstanding certain competing claims by various sections of the agricultural community, it is probably credit that has brought about the immediate Crisis in Agriculture in the South-West.
However, the Secretary of State should immediately use all possible influence with the Cabinet to emphasise the importance of the present Crisis in Agriculture.
We had a similar debate a month ago and since then the Crisis in Agriculture has deepened.
The glib and sanguine nature of the approach of this House to the enormous Crisis in Agriculture makes one despair.
I believe that the House is not fully alerted to the dangers to this country's food supply of the Crisis in Agriculture.
However, do not all the regrettable disturbances show how right we have been on this side, notably my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym), to warn the Government of the Crisis in Agriculture and to call for action to help the farmers?
This House has spent enough time describing the Crisis in Agriculture, and a fair time in apportioning blame for the failure to cure it.
Finally, I urge the Government to take this Crisis in Agriculture seriously, to take immediate action, and to readjust the green pound straight away.
I do not ask the House to accept my word that there is a sense of Crisis in Agriculture.
There is a Crisis in Agriculture in the western counties of Northern Ireland.
We know that there is a Crisis in Agriculture and that more than £100 million is being spent every week on dumping and storing food surpluses.
Sir Michael Franklin, who has just retired as permanent secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, has written an excellent and highly readable book published by the Royal Institute of International Affairs and entitled, appropriately, "Rich Man's Farming: The Crisis in Agriculture".
There is a Crisis in Agriculture, particularly regarding lamb and beef.
That is not the answer to the Agriculture Crisis.
However, I am slightly disappointed that it was not more, at a time of such Crisis in Agriculture.
Given that only about 36 out of nearly 250 applications in central Wales have been approved, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, such is the Crisis in Agriculture - with farm incomes at their lowest since the war - he should consider introducing legislation to ensure that the Development Board for Rural Wales brings agriculture within its remit?
Is it not a shame that no time was given to discussion of the Crisis in Agriculture?
Now, the farmer rightly says that this is the worst Crisis in Agriculture since the 1930s, and I do not think that that is an overstatement.
Given the depth of the current Crisis in Agriculture, the very existence of large parts of Wales is called into sharp focus.
The Crisis in Agriculture is not the farmers' doing.
As I said at the beginning of my remarks, it is vital to recognise that the Crisis in Agriculture also presents Wales with an opportunity to invest in agri-environmental schemes, which might create not only jobs but a sustainable agri-environmental strategy.
Surely the functions are still very much in existence - perhaps more than ever in view of the Agriculture Crisis.
I acknowledge that there is a real Crisis in Agriculture and in rural economies generally.
The importance of the Crisis in Agriculture is that it threatens not only the farmers but the whole rural way of life in Britain.
I wonder whether the right hon. Lady is aware how fast the Crisis in Agriculture is growing.
Does he not realise that, month by month, the Agriculture Crisis is becoming worse; that the need for direct assistance for farmers and farm workers is becoming greater; and that, while he and the Secretary of State mouth platitudes and blame everyone but themselves, Welsh farming is quietly starving to death?
Is not it time that Ministers stopped blaming BSE for the Crisis in Agriculture and recognised that BSE has nothing whatever to do with the collapse in milk, sheep or grain prices?
There is very little mention in the document of the Agriculture Crisis.
It is obvious to all of us in the Chamber and beyond that there is a deep Crisis in Agriculture in the United Kingdom.
Does the Minister agree that the need in the present Crisis in Agriculture - the latest figures for the south-west show an 80 per cent.
In respect of agrimonetary compensation, does the Minister recognise that the present Crisis in Agriculture is far more serious than it was under the Conservative Government?
The Conservative party believes that the Crisis in Agriculture is far more important than scoring party political points.
The Minister must understand that the delay in responding to the Crisis in Agriculture will not only be a political embarrassment but damage the industry, hurt thousands of small businesses and weaken the morale of men and women across rural Britain.
He was honest when he said that there was a Crisis in Agriculture, but I remind him of the way that Ministers describe it in the document "Agriculture Latest":Farmers are facing considerable difficulties".
Farmers throughout Britain will note and be puzzled about why the Government and the Leader of theHouse, and possibly the Minister, think it more important for Parliament to discuss quarantine this afternoon than to address the Crisis in Agriculture, which became so much worse during the parliamentary recess.
I assure the Minister that I do not think that the Crisis in Agriculture began on 2 May last year.
I beg to move, That this House deplores the failure of the Government to respond to the deepening Crisis in Agriculture and to secure an end to the beef export ban; applauds the achievements of British farmers in raising animal welfare and environmental standards; recognises that a thriving rural economy depends on a viable agricultural industry and that this can be achieved by giving farmers a chance to compete on equal terms as summarised in the Opposition's call for a Fair Deal for Farmers; calls on the Government to renew or replace the Calf Processing Scheme, restore HLCAs to 1993 levels and take up agri-monetary compensation for the livestock sector financed by the underspends on the agriculture budget; urges action to establish honesty in labelling to help consumers make better informed choices, to encourage the purchase of home grown food by all public sector bodies and cut the burden of excessive regulation; calls for an immediate ban on the sale of food not produced to standards required in Britain; and condemns the hostility consistently displayed by Ministers to the country people in local government finance, transport and planning policy.
If the hon. Lady took the trouble to meet any farmers, she would learn that the current Crisis in Agriculture is of a wholly different order from anything that was experienced under the Conservative Government.
However, one overriding issue distinguishes this Crisis in Agriculture from any other: the Government's mismanagement of the economy.
The most difficult aspect of the Welsh economy is the Crisis in Agriculture.
Evidence of that can be found in the on-going Crisis in Agriculture, but I particularly want to concentrate on public services and the Government's settlements for local authorities.
Despite the widely acknowledged Crisis in Agriculture, this is only the second occasion on which the Minister has taken part in a full-scale debate on the subject since his appointment in July.
The Crisis in Agriculture must worry all of us who care about AONBs.
I welcome the chance to debate the Crisis in Agriculture and in the countryside, and to examine the solutions that the Government have so often ignored or rejected.
The debate is timely because the Crisis in Agriculture became significantly worse during the parliamentary summer recess.
If there is a Crisis in Agriculture, there is also great opportunity.
The Crisis in Agriculture has many causes.
If the Minister takes those three actions, he will have our full support and will go some way to restoring the damage that has been caused by the failure of the Queen's Speech even to refer to the Crisis in Agriculture.
We must appreciate the pressures on the staff in rural schools arising from the effect on families of the Crisis in Agriculture.
Sustainable land use policies are therefore of growing importance and in the light of the present growing Crisis in Agriculture, farmers and landowners are looking for all forms of diversification.
He said in his statement that he continued to envisage difficult times, and, although it was a morale-boosting statement, there is a long way to go before the tragedy of BSE and the Crisis in Agriculture have been dealt with.
Furthermore, the Crisis in Agriculture is hitting family farmers who lose their homes when they leave their jobs.
The Prime Minister will know that the continuing Crisis in Agriculture is hitting all sectors.
We fully accept, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made plain, that there is a deep and painful Crisis in Agriculture, although I remind the hon. Gentleman again that the Leader of the Opposition told the NFU conference:I do not pretend that my Party can wave a magic wand and all the problems will disappear overnight.
Far from being sanitised, he took the trouble to surprise some of the people who were with him, to meet, speak to, invite in and talk to some of the people who protested, those who were concerned and wanted to make their concerns felt about the Crisis in Agriculture.
Last week, the Ulster Farmers Union--traditionally seen as the voice predominantly, but not exclusively, of Protestant farmers--held a rally at Stormont to draw attention to the Crisis in Agriculture--a crisis, I might add, which is having more severe repercussions in Northern Ireland than in any other region of this Kingdom.
We could discuss the present Crisis in Agriculture, but we have had many opportunities to debate that, so let us just recognise that there is a significant crisis in agriculture.
We are now totally dependent on the Treasury and Downing Street for progress to provide the necessary short- and immediate-term assistance for the general UK-wide Crisis in Agriculture.
This is where the effects of the Crisis in Agriculture have been felt most severely.
On Wednesday of last week I attended a meeting of the Church Synod, where the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford moved a debate which recognised the current Crisis in Agriculture and how that was reflected in the wider rural community.
I must say to the noble Lord, Lord Rotherwick, that it is wrong to suggest that anyone has ever said that all is rosy, or has denied the state of the Crisis in Agriculture, or not recognised the very real, very personal consequences to which the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, and others drew our attention.
Can the Leader of the House give an absolute assurance that there will, as soon as possible after that event - we are getting close to it - be a statement by the Prime Minister or a debate in Government time on the Crisis in Agriculture?
The Chancellor gave a rosy account of the economy, but he forgot about the difficulties currently faced by many manufacturing businesses and about the present Crisis in Agriculture.
This country is different from so many countries in western Europe, where the social pressure is to live in the city rather than outside it, and there are rural depopulation problems, although we may eventually experience such problems if the Agriculture Crisis continues in the most rural areas.
Unfortunately, the Government's Countryside and Rights of Way Bill is a missed opportunity to address the real problems of the countryside such as over-development, badly sited mobile phone masts, loss of rural services and the Crisis in Agriculture.
There is a real Crisis in Agriculture.
As the hon. Member for Waveney (Mr. Blizzard) said, there is now a Crisis in Agriculture and in rural areas generally.
The Crisis in Agriculture is not new: it has not just appeared from nowhere.
They are likely to be those areas already affected by the Crisis in Agriculture and by the strong pound affecting tourism.
Until about 4 o'clock there will be a debate entitled "Government Neglect of the Crisis in Agriculture".
I have struggled to identify the reason why Opposition Members, who so often - not least at this Question Time - make complaints and express concerns about the farming industry, agriculture and so on, chose to abandon the scheduled debate on the Crisis in Agriculture to discuss the riveting subject of the House of Commons itself.
To sum it all up, on page 86, in response to the worst Crisis in Agriculture since the 1930s, the Deputy Prime Minister unveils - wait for it - the "electronic rural portal".
I find that extraordinary, given that we face such a great Crisis in Agriculture and are dealing with services so far below par and so far from the legitimate aspirations of rural areas that we wonder how we will receive the services that we should expect.
That is why I cannot help finding it odd, to put it at its mildest, that at a time when rural communities are buckling under the strain of the worst Crisis in Agriculture for 60 years the Government should choose to bring to the top of their parliamentary timetable, ahead of any measure on health or law and order, a Bill designed to bring about a ban on hunting with hounds.
We are very aware of the extent of the Crisis in Agriculture.
I do understand the hon. Gentleman's concern and he knows that the Government have worked hard, and will continue to do so, with representatives of the farming community to assist with what is certainly - the Government do not seek to disguise it - a continuing and serious Crisis in Agriculture.
That will be followed by a debate entitled "The Government's Neglect of the Crisis in Agriculture".
May I draw her attention to the fact that next week's debate on the Crisis in Agriculture will undoubtedly be less valuable precisely because we have not yet had the report from the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food?
In February last year, he said:Politicians and pressure groups, by seizing on the general Crisis in Agriculture, are seeking to exploit it by creating the impression that the whole countryside is in crisis.
Labour's reluctance to discuss the worst Crisis in Agriculture for two generations is odd for a party that keeps claiming to represent the countryside.
The Government say that they sympathise with the current Crisis in Agriculture, but they have provided little effective help.
All of that is exacerbated by the Crisis in Agriculture, which has had a huge impact on the rural economy.
The farmers tend to do most of the work themselves nowadays; because of the Crisis in Agriculture, they have laid off most of their workers.
May I begin by talking about the Crisis in Agriculture?
Given the deepening Crisis in Agriculture and in the rural economy generally, the closure of post offices and rural businesses, and the problems affecting rural schools and rural transport, is it not time to have some form of standing conference to examine all the problems occurring in rural Wales?
I merely wish to point out that we are facing a national Crisis in Agriculture because of foot and mouth disease, so it is perfectly on the cards that, for wholly legitimate reasons, a Minister may wish to come to the House on 22 March to make a statement.
The Government started their response to the Agriculture Crisis by saying that people should not go walking in the countryside.
Is he aware, however, that agriculture and tourism are inextricably linked in the Lake district hills and dales, so the Cumbrian economy is grievously damaged by the unprecedented Crisis in Agriculture?
In fairness to the Government, it should be acknowledged that the situation has moved on because of the Crisis in Agriculture.
The Crisis in Agriculture is all-embracing, so the unsubsidised as well as the subsidised are being hit.
It is never otiose to remind the House of the precise nature of the Crisis in Agriculture.
Another matter that has not been taken seriously in the Queen's Speech debate is the Crisis in Agriculture and in the rural economy.
Diversification is often regarded as the panacea to solve the Crisis in Agriculture.
We are considering not only a Crisis in Agriculture.
Will he now regard that as a matter of urgency, given the continuing and deepening Crisis in Agriculture and in the rural economy and, coupled with that, the conduct of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs?
Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment the Government have made of the effect of the Crisis in Agriculture on farm workers' annual incomes.
The Crisis in Agriculture, the lack of alternative job opportunities, the sky-high house prices - my area has both low incomes and some of the highest house prices in Wales, much more than three times local average income - and the closure of local facilities all lead to the migration of young, energetic and talented people.
I dare say that the reason for that is the Crisis in Agriculture.
The Minister and his Government are presiding over the worst Crisis in Agriculture since the first world war.
Considering that the Government have overseen a Crisis in Agriculture and in rural Britain since May 1997, crops grown for biodiesel would provide an excellent additional agricultural income and substantial environmental benefits.
I know that that is more expensive for the developer, but not only would it have a beneficial effect in aesthetic terms - with a knock-on effect on local tourism and other interests to which the Minister will be sensitive in an economy that is suffering because of the Crisis in Agriculture - but it would allay some of the health fears, some rational and some irrational, that exist in the local community.
My right hon. Friend the Member for South-West Norfolk has made it clear at the outset that the knock-on effects of the Crisis in Agriculture are felt throughout a rural county such as Norfolk.
So the Crisis in Agriculture to which many others have referred and which I shall not go into in depth, is far more of a threat to many of us who have no income and no job dependent on agriculture.
Here is our countryside Minister, who should be thinking about post office closures, the Crisis in Agriculture, broadband and a hundred other things, having to spend all his time thinking about how to try to ban hunting with dogs.
Against the background of a general Crisis in Agriculture, on Tuesday it became illegal for farmers to bury dead livestock.
Although we would think that the environment would come first in the list of departmental responsibilities because it is first in the Department's title, all too often - partly through events, including the demands of the Crisis in Agriculture - it has come last in the Government's departmental priorities.
How certain can we be that, after this transfer, the Assembly is fully empowered to deal properly with a similar Crisis in Agriculture in future?
My hon. Friendthe Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Daniel Kawczynski) talked of the Crisis in Agriculture, and mentioned his constituent Chris Balmer.