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14 June 2007

Stevenson Welcomes Cabinet Secretary's Support For Subsidy Appeals Reform

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the statement from Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead on subsidy appeals reform in response to a Parliamentary Question.

It was after meeting with NFUS members at New Deer Agricultural Show last summer that SNP leader Alex Salmond pledged to introduce a truly independent panel to deal with appeals to SEERAD as part of an SNP administration in Holyrood after May's elections.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

"Parliamentary answers I received recently revealed that nearly 700 Single Farm Payment claimants in 2005 and 2006 had penalties totalling over £1¼ million applied to their claims due to errors found within the completed forms.

"In the context of overall number of claimants, this is not a large number but it is still far too high and I believe more could be done to address this at an earlier stage in the process.

"Failing that however, an independent appeals panel is crucial to ensure fairness and transparency so I very much welcome Richard Lochhead's commitment to reforming that procedure."

Note:

Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead's answer to a recent Parliamentary Question reaffirmed the SNP's commitment to reform the appeals process for agricultural subsidies. He stated:

"We shall be having early discussions with key stakeholders on general issues surrounding the implementation of the common agricultural policy. We shall also be undertaking a review of the EU agricultural subsidies appeals procedure."

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