I propose to take Questions No. 28 and priority Question No. 36 together.
As stated in my reply to a parliamentary question on 1 April last, a submission was lodged with the European Commission on 4 February 1987 concerning the reclassification of all the existing less severely handicapped areas as well as areas where mountain sheep headage grants are paid to more severely handicapped status. While we are pressing to have these proposals approved, the final outcome will largely depend on the attitude adopted by the EC Commission. It is not possible to say at this stage when the final response from the Commission will be forthcoming.
No funding was committed in the Estimates for 1987 by the previous administration to cover the costs of reclassification which must be fully met by the Exchequer in the first year. In this situation, the necessary provision for the additional headage payments could not be made in this year's budget. However, I can assure the House that I will continue to press the case for reclassification of areas as I am most anxious to have the matter finalised so that the accruing benefits can be enjoyed by Irish farmers.