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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Lines in the sand

It is funny how even the most mundane debate on the Approval of the Common Agricultural Policy Schemes (Cross Compliance) (Wales) Regulations 2004 can degenerate into a discussion on issues of nationhood:

David Davies: I join in the broad welcome for the policy of making payments in a slightly different way in Wales, based on what people have earned historically. However, I have two concerns about this. The first relates to those who grow crops that have previously been unsupported, in particular crops such as blackberries, because blackberry farmers will often rotate every 10 years or so, by growing crops that would otherwise have been supported. As I understand it, under the current regulations, those farmers will be at a huge disadvantage because they would not necessarily have been growing those crops in the last three years. They will discover that their colleagues across the border in England will be receiving support for growing crops for which they will not receive support, which will put them at a financial disadvantage.

Helen Mary raised the point about people who have land that straddles both sides of the England-Wales border. That is a big issue for people who live in Monmouthshire, Brecon, Radnorshire and right the way up the border of Wales—if you want to call it a border, of course; some people would prefer to refer to it as an administrative line in the sand.

Ieuan Wyn Jones: Will you give way?

David Davies: I am asking for trouble here, but I will give way to the leader of Plaid Cymru.

Ieuan Wyn Jones: Do you not remember your history lessons, David? Some of it is called Offa’s Dyke.

David Davies: I accept that, but it was built by the ancient King of Mercia to keep the Welsh out, I think, rather than to keep the English in. However, I fear that we are diverging a little from the debate on cross compliance.

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