lose out on aid
DAVID SCOTT Scottish Government Editor
government was accused last night of failing Britainís farmers
admitting that an "administrative oversight" had cost the industry a
of millions of pounds in European Union aid to help it fight BSE and
Ross Finnie, the Scottish rural development
minister, was put in the
embarrassing position of having to disclose that the
Department of Food and
Rural Affairs (DEFRA) had failed to meet the deadline
for its bid for up to
£5 million to finance a monitoring scheme to help
counter BSE in cows and
scrapie in sheep.
The ministerís admission was
made in reply to a parliamentary question by
Fergus Ewing, the SNP MSP for
Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, who
immediately seized on the error as an
example of how Scotland could be let
down by a UK department.
Finnie told Mr Ewing that EU legislation required member states to
applications for the funding by 1 June. He added: "The Executive is
that, due to an administrative oversight, a submission from the UK was
submitted by that deadline."
Mr Ewing said every country in the
EU, apart from the UK, had applied for,
and received, a share of a package,
worth 122 million (around £80 million),
to fight BSE and other animal
France had received £20 million; Ireland, £4.3 million, and
Scotland "not a
He added: "Mr Finnieís response was
refreshingly honest but a clear
indication of his abilities.
admitted the reason no submission was made was due to an
oversightí. How much more incompetent can this government
An SNP spokesman said the Scottish Executive was relying on the
government to deliver and the latest revelation was a further sign it
letting Scotland down.
The National Farmersí Union in Scotland
voiced anger at DEFRAís failure to
meet the deadline.
said: "My understanding is that the UK was the only member state
not to have
applied for this money, which is extremely embarrassing for the
given the fact we have experienced the worst animal disease
The Executive said applications for EU surveillance
transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) were made at
level through DEFRA, which took the lead responsibility on
behalf of UK
An Executive spokeswoman said it
was regrettable the initial deadline for
applications had been missed but
pointed out that efforts were being made to
have a late UK application
"We have not given up hope that this will be successful," she
The spokeswoman said the surveillance programme for Scottish
their costs or incomes would not be affected. "Expenditure on
is a very small part of the overall TSE/BSE costs, which are
by the UK Exchequer and the European Community."
spokesman for DEFRA said its failure to get the application in by the 1
deadline was an oversight by officials who had been engaged in
activity over the past year.