Outspoken Tory Cumbrian MP, David Maclean, claimed the Cumbria was “fifth poorest county” in Europe in his Commons speech, before the summer break.
He also spoke out in favour of Cumbria being the future home for an underground nuclear dump. He stated he would support nuclear on condition the county escaped any more wind farms.
David MacleanMP for the huge Penrith and The Border constituency, said: “Before the House rises for the summer recess, I wish to draw to its attention once again the plight of the Cumbrian economy – my perennial rant about our situation in Cumbria. That is because we are still the fifth poorest sub-region or county in the whole of Europe. It is not just me saying that; I am not talking down our county, with its superb people and innovators.
“The Commission for Rural Communities says in its latest report that people living in parts of rural Cumbria are among the country’s worst paid and our areas among the most deprived. It highlights a lack of affordable housing, declining services in rural areas and poorer access to services for people without cars. For those who have cars – and it is essential to have cars in Cumbria – their costs are rocketing for the reasons that we know.
“There are things that the Government could do about this.
First, they could sort out the Northwest Regional Development Agency and the funding that we are supposed to have through the rural development programme for England, which is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the European Union.
“We have had a two-year funding gap whereby the money has not come through because the bureaucrats have been wrangling about what we should be doing.
“Cumbria is also suffering because of the continuing shambles of the Rural Payments Agency, which is again late in paying hundreds of farmers in my constituency.
“Although it is not as bad as last year, or the year before, they will now be clobbered by the clawback of the money that they were wrongly paid. “Twenty thousand farmers in this country were wrongly paid. We know that the Government will behave in exactly the same way as they did with child tax credits.
“Demands will land on the claimant’s mat for the money to be repaid immediately, even though it is not their fault. Many farmers will not have spotted that they have been wrongly paid, so the money will not be there to be paid back; it will already have been reinvested, to use the Government’s term.
“Some farmers will be put out of business when that money is demanded back. It is high time that Defra sorted out the shambles of the RPA.
“Defra should sub-contract the payments agency out to Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which seems to be able to pay its farmers on time, or across the border to Scotland.
“Cumbria is a nuclear county. It has Sellafield, the only centre of excellence in this country for nuclear technology. We want Sellafield to be expanded; we are willing for it to be a depository for nuclear waste-not a dump, but a depository such as those in Sweden or other Scandinavian countries where people can access it and check on the materials.
“We will do that for a price. We are willing to have a nuclear reactor in Cumbria. We will take that technology, provided we are not afflicted with more ghastly wind farms destroying the beautiful landscape of rural Cumbria.
“At least nuclear energy will contribute to our electricity supply 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and not the 30 per cent. of the time that our miserable wind farms do. Our beautiful county is in danger of being destroyed by wind farm applications . They contribute little to our energy needs, but-goodness me-they could certainly contribute 24/7 to the ugliness and destruction of our visual environment.”
30 July 2008