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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 October 2007, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Row over foot-and-mouth aid cash
Footpath closure sign
While there were no cases in Wales, restrictions were enforced
The UK Government has been accused of pulling the plug on millions of pounds of compensation for Welsh farmers after the recent foot and mouth outbreak.

A draft statement prepared for the UK Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced an extra 6.5m for livestock farmers hit by movement restrictions.

But when Mr Benn spoke to MPs on Monday he announced money from his Defra budget for England.

Rural Affairs minister Elin Jones has said she will push for the money.

The UK Government has denied allegations that the money was withdrawn after an election was ruled out at the weekend.

The row erupted after Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said he had seen a leaked copy of a draft statement by UK Environment Secretary Hilary Benn which agreed sums of 8.1m for Scotland and 6.5m for Wales.

Speaking at Westminster, Mr Salmond alleged that the passage was omitted from the statement delivered in the Commons on Monday, once any election had been called off.

Not compensation

The Scottish first minister said he had written to Gordon Brown to protest.

Ms Jones told BBC Radio Wales that she was "disappointed" that there was no funding for Wales coming from the UK government.

She said: "My discussions with Defra and the UK treasury remain in order to access funds from the UK treasury reserve to meet some of the costs that are being met by the assembly government... for helping farmers in Wales."

Around 7m had so far been spent helping farmers affected in Wales, the minister said.

She refused to comment when asked if funding was first approved by the UK treasury and later withdrawn.

Sheep (library picture)
Meat exports from Wales have been hit by the foot-and-mouth outbreak

"All I can say is that the position for the Welsh government remains that in order to meet the costs associated with helping Welsh farmers to recover from the foot-and-mouth outbreak, then it's our position that that money should be met by (the) UK Treasury."

Later Mr Benn issued a statement saying: "There is not a word of truth in the allegation that a possible election had anything to do with decisions on funding for the foot-and-mouth crisis, and I very much regret that this is being used in this way.''

He added: ''As we do not yet know what the full cost will be for all of us, we have decided that our existing budgets should carry the cost for the moment.

"Both Defra and the devolved administrations are always able to approach the Treasury once we know what the full picture is.''

Defra said they wound not comment on leaked documents.

A spokesperson said a package for English farmers was being met out of Defra's existing budget.

"However, we do not know yet what the full cost of this outbreak will be or whether this can be met in full by the Defra budget. Scotland and Wales are considering their own measures to assist farmers."

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