SNP Conference: UK ministers 'working against Scotland'

Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead also claims UK Government has regarded Scottish fishermen as 'expendable' in EU negotiations

UK ministers have been “working against Scotland” by negotiating the nation to the bottom of the pile in EU rural budget talks at a cost of £850 million to farmers, Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has said.

Scotland previously received the third lowest level of farm support in Europe until the UK Government "negotiated Scotland down to the bottom", according to Mr Lochhead.

Scotland could "lose the ability to produce food" for its rising population unless it protects its producers, he said.

The UK Government has also regarded Scottish fishermen as "expendable" in negotiations over the common fisheries policy, he said.

Mr Lochhead also attacked the "concentrated wealth and power" of land owners who "block rural development and empowerment", pledging to look at the case for giving tenant farmers the right to buy the land they rent.

Independence could herald a "rural renaissance" in Scotland and deliver "huge dividends for farmers", he said.

Addressing the SNP Conference in Perth, Mr Lochhead said: "I argued for a greater share of Europe's farming and rural budgets for Scotland. Owen Paterson argued for less.

"At one point, he even argued for no budget because he wanted the free market to reign supreme even if it meant a slow and painful death for Scottish agriculture.

"Try telling the hill farmer on Mull or the crofter on Skye who couldn't compete without public support.

"Today, I am publishing information that highlights why the UK Government has once again let rural Scotland down. These EU funding league tables show how the UK Government negotiatedScotland down to the bottom in negotiations.

"Scotland went into the negotiations with a pitiful third lowest level of farm support in Europe. Europe then agreed a formula to close the gap between the countries with lowest payments with those of the highest.

"Scotland has now been leapfrogged by Latvia and Lithuania whose ministers sit at the top table and make their farmers a priority, and now we are stuck at the bottom of the league.

"We didn't benefit from the new funding formula because it only applies to member states, and the UK Government refused to seek a fairer share of the budget for Scotland.

"As a result, our farmers have lost out big time - indeed, to the tune of a massive £850 million."

He added: "The No campaign tell us we need to be part of big UK to get a good deal for Scotland. That we're better together. Well these tables tell us they couldn't do any worse.

"Independence will deliver huge dividends for our farmers and rural Scotland. Imagine what we could achieve if we represented ourselves in Europe. Representatives working for Scotland, not against Scotland."

He said Scotland could be the same as the small Scandinavian nations Norway, which has "the best quality of life" in the world; Sweden, "the world's most sustainable nation"; and Denmark "the world's happiest country".

And independence is the "only way to guarantee the future of rural postal services", he said.

"Last week one of my local posties in Moray told me he was voting Yes next year as the only hope to save his job," he said.

"We need all these powers not sitting in London but available to us here in Scotland. We can then sit down together to plan a rural renaissance."

A Scotland Office spokesman said: "The Scottish Government cannot ignore the fact Scottish farmers have the second highest direct payment per farmer compared to all EU member states.

"While the precise CAP allocations across the UK from 2014 will be announced in due course, there is little doubt the UK was able to use its size and influence to deliver a whole range of things that benefit Scotland in the recent negotiations.

"This included a fully regionalised CAP, which was supported by the Scottish Government.

"They should acknowledge these realities rather than pursue relentless negativity on this issue."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...

Investigo: Finance Business Partner

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project