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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 July 2005, 20:01 GMT 21:01 UK
Farmers' subsidy 'secrecy' anger
Farmer (generic)
Most Welsh farmers receive small subsidies, says MP Paul Flynn
A Labour MP says he is "baffled" by a refusal to publish details of subsidies paid to Welsh farmers, when similar details are released in England.

Newport West MP Paul Flynn has complained to the official who oversees freedom of information in both nations.

But Mr Flynn said Wales would come out favourably, as most Welsh farmers receive under 5,000 in subsidies.

The assembly government said it would be illegal to release details held under a "duty of confidence".

The public has a right to know what's happening to their money
Paul Flynn MP
Mr Flynn is writing a report for the Council of Europe which compares subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy (Cap) received in Wales and England.

The identities of farmers in England were released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in March.

Mr Flynn said: "There was a threat of an injunction from the farmers' union in England, but eventually there was a ruling by the information commissioner that they should be published, and I believe the same thing will happen in Wales."

He said it would be "very favourable" to Wales, where nearly 9,000 farmers received subsidies under 5,000.

Detailed legal advice

Mr Flynn said although about 100 Welsh farmers had over 75,000 and 35 over 100,000, that was nothing like England, where many were paid 1m over two years.

The MP said he was baffled by the refusal to release Welsh details when the same rules applied in England. He said he was not criticising the assembly government, which had been given detailed legal advice, but many people had their income published, including MPs.

"This is a huge form of income support paid to people who are already wealthy. If we are distributing taxpayers' money it should be going to the deserving.

"The public has a right to know what's happening to their money."

An assembly government spokesman said: "We have reviewed the position regarding release of Cap subsidy information at individual business level, and continue to take the view that release of this information would breach the Data Protection Act.

"We believe the Cap subsidy information held by the assembly government is also subject to a duty of confidence."

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17 Oct 02 |  Politics


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