MP takes up farmer's cash row

A FARMER who tried to sue the Government's environment minister has had his case discussed in the House of Commons. Paul Bateman, of Westhay Farm in Banwell, planned to put the secretary of state for environment Margaret Beckett before a judge after he di

A FARMER who tried to sue the Government's environment minister has had his case discussed in the House of Commons.Paul Bateman, of Westhay Farm in Banwell, planned to put the secretary of state for environment Margaret Beckett before a judge after he did not receive the Single Farmer's Payment (SFP) on time.Mr Bateman was due the cash on October 31 last year.Mr Bateman is owed £2,000 but was told by Weston county court he could only sue the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) so he dropped his case.Weston's MP John Penrose, who supported Mr Bateman's campaign, challenged Mrs Beckett on the issue in Westminster.Mr Penrose said: "Mr Bateman typifies the frustration felt by farmers across the country, particularly when he received a letter from the Rural Payments Agency telling him exactly how much he was owed in euros, but no cheque was enclosed in the letter."He asked if it would have been simpler to enclose the cheque with the letter, but Mrs Beckett disagreed.She said: "We are doing everything we can to speed up the payments system. Identifying the amount is the first step, but I recognise it is the cheque that really matters."Far more cheques are being issued and that work will continue."Shadow agriculture minister James Paice called on farming minister Lord Bach to resign over the issue, saying he had failed to grasp the seriousness of the situation.


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