Mail On Sunday: Tory minister's secret farm subsidies

Tony Gosling tony at
Mon Mar 28 11:07:46 BST 2011

Now the Minister they call Henley VIII is caught up in EU farm subsidies row

Verkaik - Mail On Sunday - Last updated at 12:27 AM on 27th March 2011

A Tory Minister whose department covered up 
details of who receives EU farm subsidies has 
earned at least £38,000 from the same payouts for his castle estate in Cumbria.
Environment Minister Lord Henley is the third 
member of the Department for Environment, Food 
and Rural Affairs (Defra) to be found to be in receipt of secret subsidies.
Oliver Eden, 57, the eighth Baron of Henley - 
dubbed by nearby residents 'Henley the VIII' 
because of his grand lifestyle - almost doubled 
his EU claim on his 10,000-acre estate in two years.
Last month, The Mail on Sunday revealed that the 
Environment and Fisheries Minister, Richard 
Benyon, received £200,000 in subsidies for his 
20,000-acre estate in Hampshire, which is worth £125million.
Farming Minister Jim Paice also received several 
thousands of pounds for his farm in Suffolk.
The Government has refused to disclose what Lord 
Henley or Mr Benyon were paid under the EU scheme run by Defra.
Some time after November last year, Defra decided 
to block all information about how much farmers had earned from subsidies.
More than 100,000 British farmers are to be paid 
£3billion in EU farming subsidies for last year. 
Ministers argue that they are following advice from Brussels.
But freedom of information campaigners claim they 
have deliberately taken draconian steps to 
protect rich farmers from public scrutiny.
Scaleby Castle, near Carlisle, which has an 
extensive working moat, is a privately owned, £5m 
Grade I listed monument left to Lord Henley by 
his father in 1978, along with £1.5m. His farming 
subsidy claim has gone from £10,000 in 2008 to £17,000 in 2009
The Government has also won its battle to head 
off an attempt by the Euro­pean Comm­ission to 
put a cap on farming sub­sidies so more money 
would be available for poorer farmers.
Last night the Government said the reason 
Ministers had opposed the cap was because it 
would lead to big farming businesses dividing 
their concerns into smaller units - not that it 
was protecting vested interests.
Scaleby Castle, near Carlisle, which has an 
extensive working moat, is a privately owned, 
£5million Grade I listed monument left to Lord 
Henley by his father in 1978, along with £1.5million.
The castle has its origins in the 1300s and was 
greatly added to in the 15th, 16th 17th and 19th Centuries.
It has no natural defences, so two moats were 
built around it. The outer one still works - it 
is 400ft in diameter and 40ft wide.
Our disclosure about Richard Benyon, the Minister 
who received £200,000 in subsidies for his 20,000-acre estate in Hampshire
The tower in the north-east corner has a vault at 
ground level and a spiral staircase.
There are further occupied parts of the castle 
with a range of castle buildings.
Eden, a hereditary peer and a relative of former 
Tory Prime Minister Anthony Eden, was a whip 
under Margaret Thatcher's Government.
He recently won a prize for his homemade marmalade.
His farming subsidy claim has nearly doubled from 
£10,000 in 2008 to £17,000 in 2009.
The only clue that Lord Henley has made a claim 
for farming subsidies is his entry in the MPs' register of members' interests.
In it, he acknowledges 'agricultural land in 
Cumbria, including residential properties'.
A Defra spokesperson said last night: 'On his 
appointment the Minister made the Permanent 
Secretary aware of all his interests.
'The Permanent Secretary is happy there is no 
conflict of interest in the present circumstances 
- and that the requirements of the Ministerial Code are being met.'
Lord Henley's departmental responsibilities do 
not include decisions on any matters related to EU farming subsidies. 

+44 (0)7786 952037
"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."

"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic 
poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
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