Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has this week refuted claims from David Duguid’s column that the Conservative UK Government welcomed the announcement that £160 million worth of convergence funding from the European Union. This money was originally intended to benefit Scottish agriculture and will be paid to the Scottish Government after Mr Duguid’s party refused to hand over the money in 2013.
Convergence uplift is extra Common Agricultural Policy (Cap) funding allocated to the UK to bring Scotland’s per-hectare subsidy average up.
The full allocation was not given to Scotland and years of lobbying from industry and the Scottish Government led to the formation of the Bew Review Group to look at intra-UK farm subsidy allocations.
Earlier this month Chancellor Sajid Javid vowed to “correct that decision” by awarding £160m to Scots farmers, while the Bew Review Group recommended a further allocation of £51.4m in funding over the next two years.
While local Conservative David Duguid attempts to hail the return of the funding which was withheld from Scottish farmers by the Conservative UK Government as some kind of victory for the Conservatives, Mr Stevenson likened his attempts to that of a pickpocket seeking thanks for returning a stolen wallet.
Mr Stevenson commented
Better late than never.
This money was given by the EU to the UK Government in 2013 with the express purpose of uplifting the low per hectare payments received by Scottish farmers. I was delighted to note Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid’s own observation that the decision by David Cameron’s Conservative Government to withhold this money was wrong – and that the payment will be made after all.
His announcement follows on from cross-party pressure at both Holyrood and Westminster to right this long-running injustice against our farmers – including from members of the Conservative Party who, I note, are spinning the line that this somehow represents a generous gift from Westminster.
My constituents in the farming sector will, I’m sure, reach their own conclusions on how much weight this spin should carry. And, indeed, the appropriate level of gratitude due to the pickpocket who returns your wallet six years later.