Minister defends 'losing' £346m farm subsidy payments

French Charolais bulls - file pic Alun Davies blamed an "administrative error" and farmers would get the money

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A Welsh government minister has been accused of "losing" £346m of farm subsidy payments from the budget.

Natural Resources Minister Alun Davies blamed an "administrative error" and insisted farmers would get their money.

It was inadvertently left out of June's supplementary budget which the assembly votes on to authorise government spending.

Mr Davies told the Environment Committee it would not impact on his department making single farm payments.

He said the mistake was "administrative not budgetary".

Plaid Cymru AM Llyr Gruffudd told Mr Davies: "It appears that the budget line for single farm payments of £346m has been lost somewhere in the budget process.

'Administrative error'

"One is rather shocked that this can happen. Do you believe that this mistake will cause you any problems when it comes to making these payments?"

The minister replied: "No. It was an administrative error. The money has not been 'lost'. This was an administrative error not a budgetary error.

Start Quote

There is no impact at all on our budget and there is no impact on our ability to make payments”

End Quote Alun Davies Natural Resources Minister

"Money comes in and goes straight back out again, it is not part of the department's budget, as it were.

"We are making payments today to some farmers, as it happens.

"There is no impact at all on our budget and there is no impact on our ability to make payments."

Mr Davies explained it was European money that was administered by his department and passed on to farmers.

But committee chair Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas rebuked Mr Davies for delivering papers related to this year's draft budget late to AMs.

Lord Elis Thomas said the "mistake" meant the committee was "out of order" because it had not been able to publish papers within the timescale required by the assembly's standing orders.

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