Lochhead attacks UK government over CAP budget

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Rural Affairs and Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has again criticised the UK government for distributing convergence uplift payments through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to the whole of the UK.

The cabinet secretary said the extra money should have been entirely directed to Scotland.

Mr Lochhead also lambasted the UK government over its CAP budget negotiations, during a CAP debate on 29 January 2014.

He said the UK government had failed to even try to improve the deal Scotland got from Europe and "to add insult to injury", when dividing the budget within the UK, it "took so-called 'convergence' money that Europe intended for Scotland, and spread it over the whole UK".

The cabinet secretary said this left Scotland with "the worst per-hectare budgets in Europe - in both Pillars".

He highlighted the publication two consultation documents on the implementation of the new CAP and stressed the Scottish government would seriously consider issues raised during the consultations and to take the right decisions for the future of Scottish agriculture prior to the final implementation.

Scottish Labour's rural affairs and environment spokeswoman Claire Baker also condemned the failure to grant the full convergence uplift to Scotland but called on the minister not to be too dismissive of the UK government's review of budget allocations.

Ms Baker also expressed concern about the Scottish government's level of transfer of funds from pillar 1 to pillar 2, which at 9.5%, she felt limited the potential for delivery of the Scotland Rural Development Programme and targeted agri-environmental initiatives.

Alex Ferguson, the Scottish Conservative rural affairs spokesperson, said it was time for the Scottish government to end its "somewhat vitriolic language" and enmity towards the UK government and focus on the very real concerns of farmers.

The second part of the debate can be viewed below:

CAP debate 2

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