On 10th November 2015 Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty’s Government “what percentage of the basic farm payment they expect to pay to qualifying farmers by the end of the year.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for referring to the way the Rural Payments Agency has turned things round. Despite its sterling work and the assurances of the Minister, there is no doubt that a number of farmers will experience delays in payments under the basic payment scheme. In light of that, what are Her Majesty’s Government doing to put in place contingency plans to help those farmers who could go out of business simply because of cash-flow problems if payments do not come through on time?
Lord Gardiner of Kimble: My Lords, that is precisely the issue raised by my noble friend Lord Plumb. It is very important that the continuing good relations between banks and farmers remain as strong as possible. Clearly, one thing we need to do is give the British farming sector a much enhanced future. Indeed, that is why this week, the Secretary of State has with her eight dairy businesses and 80 UK farm businesses on her visit to China. This is about a growing market. Obviously, we face a short-term problem but the prospects for British produce are very strong. However, I am very conscious of what the right reverend Prelate has said.