There has been the Bse Crisis, during which the Opposition did not go out of their way to help us to reassure the public that the measures that we took were adequate - indeed, quite the opposite.
That point was well taken by the Government, and our purpose in the phrase contained in the report was to show that the Government's handling of the Bse Crisis - it was a serious crisis; we have no illusions about that - was considerably better.
References have been made to the Select Committee's handling of the Bse Crisis.
Are the Prime Minister and the Government at all contrite about the Bse Crisis, given that Labour's then agriculture spokesman, my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark), raised the question of safety six years ago?
It said:We would like to express our total exasperation at the Government's inept handling of the Bse Crisis, the Labour Party's political point scoring, with total disregard for the livelihoods of the hundreds of thousands of employees engaged in meat processing and associated food industries which they represent.
We believe that Britain is paying - including in the Bse Crisis - a high price for that policy.
The Bse Crisis has presented the whole Community with a challenge of major proportions.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will assess the impact of the Bse Crisis on his Budget policies.
We do have a reserve to cover just such unforeseen contingencies, and I expect to be able to meet the costs of any measures that we have to take to deal with the Bse Crisis without breaking the new control total or our public expenditure plans.
Could I too ask for a debate on the Bse Crisis, so that my hard-pressed farmers can get an answer to the following question, which I was not able to put during the private notice question?
Every cattle market in this country has been adversely affected by the Bse Crisis.
In the interests of transparency and accountability of the European Union, and given its less than helpful attitude towards British farmers in the Bse Crisis and the worldwide ban on the export of British beef, does my hon. Friend share the sense of outrage felt by many of my farmers that none other than Herr Fischler, the Agriculture Commissioner, should be opening the royal agriculture show at Stoneleigh this year?
That debate will be of great importance to the dairy sector during the Bse Crisis - the biggest crisis to hit our agriculture this century.
The debate will give us an opportunity to get rid of the crazy notion that my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Ms Harman) caused the Bse Crisis - it was the dithering incompetence of the Government that caused it.
We are all concerned about the effect of the Bse Crisis on Northern Ireland, not least because of the importance of the beef industry to the Northern Ireland economy and the number of jobs that depend on it.
Moreover, there will inevitably be more form-filling as the Government pursue solutions to the Bse Crisis.
It has been widely reported that the Foreign Secretary has written to the Prime Minister demanding stronger leadership in relation to the Bse Crisis, and that, in the context of the crisis, the Prime Minister has used language that I cannot repeat in the House of Commons about his European Union counterparts.
There are already some important lessons to be learnt from the Bse Crisis.
My next topic relates directly to the Bse Crisis.
that caused the Bse Crisis.
- once one has taken into account the rebate lost - of all the moneys that the European Union kindly allows us in the case of the Bse Crisis come from our own taxpayers?
It is undoubted that the Bse Crisis has affected the beef industry and the rural community in a way that it is hard to underestimate.
Will the Minister confirm that, following the Bse Crisis, section 3J of the intervention board milk quota guidelines, which deal with temporary reallocation following herd movement restrictions, will come into play?
Today many hon. Members have concentrated on the Bse Crisis but they have not referred to the common agricultural policy.
One of the basic elements that will fuel that change is the recognition of a fundamental and self-evident point about the whole tragic mess of the Bse Crisis.
The first is that the Bse Crisis and the crisis in the beef industry have been caused by the European Union or by our membership in the European Union.
They certainly do not think that the Government have effectively delivered a proper response to the Bse Crisis.
That is why we shall seek to divide the House tomorrow on the issue of how badly the Government have handled the Bse Crisis.
We learnt yesterday that the Scottish unemployment figures had increased, and a Minister admitted that a large proportion of that was due to the Bse Crisis.
I recognise that many complex issues have been raised as a result of the Bse Crisis.
The issue that has dominated the debate in the past two days is the Bse Crisis.
Although this is a general debate on the common agricultural policy, it has been dominated by the Bse Crisis.
I wanted to say something about the CAP, but because time is short I will concentrate on the Bse Crisis, or calamity.
I am bitterly disappointed to have to return to the House to discuss, again, the Bse Crisis.
I refer to the effect of the Bse Crisis on the consumer.
How will it help not only with the Bse Crisis but in reforming the common agricultural policy?
The right hon. Gentleman's statement should not mask or disguise the wider questions that must be asked about the Government's handling of the Bse Crisis.
The Council also discussed a proposal from the Commission to increase the payments to EU beef producers by way of top-ups to the 1995 beef special premium and Buckler cow premium schemes in order to give some urgent income support to those affected by the Bse Crisis.
The £206,700,000 all 481 relates to additional responsibilities arising in response to the Bse Crisis.
Mr. Raymond S. Robertson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and my noble Friend the Minister with responsibility for agriculture, forestry and environment have received many representations about the state of the Scottish beef industry from all sectors, including the National Farmers Union, the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, the Auctioneers Association, Transport haulier associations, individual companies and farmers affected by the Bse Crisis.
Does the Secretary of State acknowledge that the compensation arrangements for those who have lost business or their jobs because of the Bse Crisis are falling very unevenly?
Nevertheless, if an hon. Member were to be speaking on the subject of agriculture and wanted to move on from the common agricultural policy wheat subsidy to the Bse Crisis in the beef herds of Wales, since most beef farmers in Wales happen to be Welsh-speaking, the hon. Member might want to change at that point to the use of Welsh.
Does he believe that the scientific advice on which the Government depend in the Bse Crisis would be credible if it depended on institutions that required commercial contracts for their bread and butter?
It is not only germane to theHealth Department: Ministers at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food could use a significant dose of reality to knock some of them out of their complacency, particularly Ministers dealing with the Bse Crisis.
He will be aware that my hon. Friends from Wales have made repeated requests for a meeting of the Welsh Grand Committee so that they can have a full-scale debate on the Bse Crisis and its impact in Wales.
The Bse Crisis is having a devastating effect on the beef industry in Northern Ireland and on the Northern Ireland economy, despite the fact that the incidence of BSE in Northern Ireland is extremely low.
Politicians of all parties - including the two main Opposition parties and those outside the House - may whip themselves into a lather over local government spending, social security spending and its consequences for future tax breaks, and the Bse Crisis which, of course, are all greatly important, but they shrink intoinsignificance when one considers the matters that my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood has addressed this morning.
There is now a real danger that, as dairy and beef farming incomes go into reverse as a result of the Bse Crisis and its many ramifications, many farmers will find it increasingly difficult to afford that crucial investment.
Northern Ireland could have led the United Kingdom out of the morass in relation to the Bse Crisis.
I do not know where the hon. Gentleman has been for the past 17 years, or for the past 10 years of the Bse Crisis, but a Conservative Government have been in charge all that time.
Will he confirm also that this country's bill, net of European Union payments, for the Bse Crisis will be well in excess of £2 billion in the years to come?
Whatever criticisms we may have of the handling of the Bse Crisis by the current Agriculture Minister, I do not want to encourage the hope held by some Conservative Members that sacking the Minister will in some way eliminate the Government's culpability for their terrible failure for so many years to tackle BSE effectively.
Northern Ireland is in a special situation because it has an excellent traceability system, but it has been hammered as a result of the Bse Crisis.
Many criticisms can be made of the Government's handling of the Current Bse Crisis, and Opposition Members have made them clearly in the House.
Many criticisms can be made of the Government's handling of the current Bse Crisis, and Opposition Members have made them clearly in the House.
I am concerned that, with his honourable exception, speeches have not addressed the serious concerns about health aspects of the Bse Crisis.
I submit that we should assist those who have suffered most from the Bse Crisis - the specialist beef producers.
The hon. Member for Gosport (Mr. Viggers) mentioned just one category of the industry that has suffered the terrible side effects of the Bse Crisis.
I spent this morning at a slaughterhouse in Ireland, where our Committee was examining the effect of the Bse Crisis on both parts of the island of Ireland, as well as in Great Britain.
However, it was disappointing to find that when the right hon. Member for Sedgefield was in Germany on 18 June, a week ago, he said:You should also know that no one has been more critical of our Government's handling of the Bse Crisis than the Labour Party.
Mr. Matthew Banks: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the latest estimate of the cost of the measures taken to deal with the Bse Crisis so far.
Farm animals' welfare has been scarcely mentioned in any of the many debates and statements in the House arising from the Bse Crisis.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the number of (a) head boning firms, (b) food processing companies, (c) abattoirs and (d) other 307 companies or organisations connected with the beef trade that have ceased trading as a result of the Bse Crisis.
The Bse Crisis has had a devastating effect in Northern Ireland because of the vital role that the beef industry plays in the overall economy of the Province.
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received from farmers' leaders regarding the effect of the Bse Crisis on agriculture in Wales.
As grain prices are very high internationally, and as intervention stocks of cereals are very low, is it not time to phase out the set-aside policy and use the cash saved either to cut the costs of the CAP or to deal with the Bse Crisis?
Brute force, mutilation and ruminants turned into carnivores: is it any wonder that the Bse Crisis is upon us?
drop in income because of the Bse Crisis in beef?
Does the Minister accept that the key lesson to learn from the Bse Crisis is the need to engage and hold consumer confidence?
Although we are debating the Bse Crisis as it affects dairy and beef herds, we should concentrate our long-term efforts on making sure that the clean beef industry recovers sufficiently.
Accepting that it will be some time before we know whether there is an increase in the number of cases of the new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and accepting that it will be some time before we know whether there is any link at all, any cause whatever, between the eating of contaminated beef and beef products and the new variant of CJD, I put it to the Minister that he has a responsibility to do all that he reasonably can to minimise the suffering in the farming and the beef industries that has resulted from the Bse Crisis.
In my opening remarks, I referred to the great famine in Ireland 150 years ago, and said that the Bse Crisis is the greatest disaster to hit the farming community in Northern Ireland since then.
The Glasgow meat market is in my constituency, and I should stress that, with all due respect to the farmers, they are not the only people affected by the Bse Crisis.
Irish farmers and the Glasgow meat market have been affected by the Bse Crisis.
Finally, as the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has not asked to come and give a statement to the House about the latest evidence on bovine spongiform encephalopathy, and as the lobby of farmers yesterday confirmed our worst fears about the chaos surrounding the Government's management of the Bse Crisis, when will the Minister of Agriculture make a statement to Parliament about the crisis, or is he too frightened to appear before the House?
The public knew that the Bse Crisis was made in Britain by a Government who had failed to provide the regulations that would keep BSE out of foodstuffs.
We have had a hint from the Bse Crisis.
While the Bse Crisis bites ever deeper, all we have had from the Government is confusion, contradiction and vagueness.
Agreement was reached by qualified majority, Germany voting against—on a package of measures to re-adjust the EU beef market in the wake of the Bse Crisis.
The cattle market has been badly hit by the Bse Crisis.
The Bse Crisis was mentioned.
In the food production and processing sector, the third pillar of our local economy, we suffered the closure of the Whitland creamery, in 1994, and we are now suffering the effects of the Bse Crisis.
Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the desirability of providing financial aid and incentives to encourage rural local authorities to set up specific local exchange trading schemes to help farmers during the Bse Crisis: and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the change in the level of beef imports to the United Kingdom since the onset of the Bse Crisis.
There will be a debate entitled "The Bse Crisis and the Lack of Progress on Lifting the Export Ban on Beef and Beef Products" on an Opposition motion.
(3) if he will list (a) the methods by which compensation has been directed to farmers as a result of the Bse Crisis, (b) the level of expenditure under these headings and (c) the amount of each expenditure item that is recoverable from the European Union.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the impact of the Bse Crisis on prices paid to farmers for beef cattle.
Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list (a) the methods by which compensation has been directed to farmers in Wales since the onset of the Bse Crisis, (b) the level of expenditure in Wales under each of these headings and (c) the amount of each expenditure item in Wales that is recoverable from the European Union.
On today's Order Paper, I see that my right hon. Friend the Agriculture Minister invites me to congratulate "the Government on the action it has taken to deal with the Bse Crisis", 280 and to welcome "the package of support the Government has provided to the beef industry".
It says: "A farmer has been killed by his own animals—which he had been unable to sell because of the Bse Crisis.
Pinnacle Meats has a serious problem: proportionately it is the worst problem of anyone affected by the Bse Crisis.
During the Bse Crisis, the Government have been accused of many things.
After the Bse Crisis, we need to make a new start.
I have said before that my constituency is probably more affected by the Bse Crisis than any other.
The most curious part of the Government's mystifying conduct over the Bse Crisis is that, having hailed agreement in Florence as a victory, they then proceeded to break that agreement by not keeping their part of the bargain.
I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:congratulates the Government on the action it has taken to deal with the Bse Crisis which has led to the restoration of consumer confidence; welcomes the package of support the Government has provided to the beef industry; notes the significant improvement in the measures to deal with the disposal of animals over 30 months of age and the progress made towards meeting the criteria set out in the agreement for lifting the European ban on British beef; and urges the Labour Party to drop its cynical political opportunism at the expense of many who depend on this important industry.
Does the hon. Gentleman have any comment to make on the fact that, at no time during the Bse Crisis, have the Government shown any interest in introducing a traceability scheme in Scotland?
He rightly said that we have discussed the Bse Crisis in the House on a number of occasions.
The Bse Crisis has been an example of appalling incompetence, particularly within the cattle cake manufacturing sector.
The Minister of Agriculture began his speech by saying that the Bse Crisis was a disaster for British agriculture.
I was glad to hear on 8 October about the further significant sum of money to be devoted to help overcome the Bse Crisis.
From 1985 to 1996, we have been debating BSE in the House, yet we still have a Bse Crisis.
Tonight we have heard about the impact of the Bse Crisis on all the countries of the United Kingdom - Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales - and for most of the debate representatives from the Offices for those countries have been present: the Secretary of State for Scotland, Scottish Office Ministers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and a Minister from Northern Ireland have all been here, but there has not been a single Minister from the Welsh Office.
It is right that the House of Commons should pass judgment on how the Government have handled the Bse Crisis.
Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what discussions his Department has had with Hillsdown Ambient Foods Group Ltd. relating to problems for the meat processing industry arising from the Bse Crisis.
That problem has been exacerbated by the Bse Crisis because many cattle that would not normally be in the fields are being kept out and producing milk.
Does he accept that that is a clear measure of the Government's failure to deal with the Bse Crisis adequately?
We have had to intervene in the market as a consequence of the collapse in consumer confidence that has occurred as a result of what is commonly referred to as the Bse Crisis.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the assistance available to beef farms which have been affected by the Bse Crisis.
Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received about the impact of the Bse Crisis on the rural economy of Wales.
I understand that the good farmers of Cornwall have just petitioned the Dean of Truro to have a gargoyle of the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food added to Truro cathedral as a lasting monument to his contribution to the Bse Crisis.
From the Dispatch Box, I recounted the way in which the Labour party would have behaved differently in relation to the Bse Crisis over an entire decade - starting back in 1980, when we would not have abandoned the regulations that we left in place and which the Conservative party threw out of the window.
Does the Minister appreciate that, yet again, his total mishandling of the Bse Crisis has meant that enormous, additional and unnecessary damage has been inflicted on our economy?
The hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) talked about the Bse Crisis - an issue that we shall keep coming back to in 1997, because the bill will fall to the incoming Government.
Does he not appreciate that the smaller beef producer facing the "upper millstone" of the economic effect of the Bse Crisis and the "lower millstone" of the disintensification policy that the Ministry is pursuing could threaten the smaller farmer, and imperil entry into, and maintenance of interest in, farming among such people?
We understand that the report has been highly critical of the British Government's response to the Bse Crisis and that there is also some criticism of the European Commission.
Every farmer in the country will welcome this further step towards clearing up the Bse Crisis in the UK, and will hope that the certified herds scheme will be acceptable to Europe.
There have been significant changes during the past 12 months, as a consequence of the impact on the European beef market of the Bse Crisis since March 1996.
Can the Prime Minister say why he is spending hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation for farmers in the Bse Crisis and is preparing to spend more than £100 million in compensation under the Firearms (Amendment) Bill, yet adamantly refuses to pay any compensation to those infected with hepatitis C by contaminated blood transfusions?
Will the Secretary of State join me in congratulating the farmers of Northern Ireland on their courage and determination during the Bse Crisis?
Mr. Alan W. Williams: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will estimate the total costs of the Bse Crisis in Britain from 1 April 1996 to date, categorised according to (a) payments to abattoirs, (b) payments to renderers, (c) compensation paid to farmers and (d) other costs.
5 billion to support the industry in the UK, over four years, on the following measures in response to the Bse Crisis: Scheme Payments in Wales Beef marketing payments scheme 1 £1.
Mr. Baldry [holding answer 31 January 1997]: The Government have already provided a substantial package of assistance to help UK holders of beef stocks affected by the Bse Crisis.
Mr. Baldry [holding answer 31 January 1997]: The Government sympathise with the exporters whose businesses have suffered since the Bse Crisis.
Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the current situation in the Bse Crisis.
There will be a debate entitled "The Bse Crisis" on an Opposition motion.
We have before us an Opposition day on the Bse Crisis.
I am surprised that so many Conservative Members, including the Minister of Agriculture, felt that it was improper for us to call a debate on the handling of the Bse Crisis and table a vote of censure.
I am moving on to talk about Northern Ireland, which is crucial in tonight's debate for political reasons, but which also points to the way ahead in the Bse Crisis.
I am not personally much affected by the Bse Crisis, but I am certainly affected politically by what has happened over the past 11 months.
The comments of Labour Front Benchers have exacerbated the Bse Crisis throughout.
He should be replaced by someone with the stature to defend British interests abroad and to devise and implement successful policies at home to lead us out of the Bse Crisis.
As the hon. Member for East Londonderry (Mr. Ross) said, the effect of the Bse Crisis in Northern Ireland has been much more dramatic than in Great Britain.
The Bse Crisis has been the most serious for the British farming industry that working farmers can remember.
The hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir J. Spicer) acknowledged that there had been some disagreements about BSE on the Government side, although he did not go into great detail, but the vast majority of the debate has been not about the Bse Crisis but about the way in which the Government have handled it.
The Bse Crisis has been a great tragedy that has cost an enormous amount of money.
Although I appreciate that we are dealing with wider industrial compensation, over the two or three years affected by This Great Bse Crisis, we will have spent £3.
The hon. Member for Taunton said rightly - it is the only thing he said that was quite right - that the Bse Crisis should have been debated on the Floor - [HON.
The debate has outlined the catalogue of incompetence in the Government's handling of the Bse Crisis.
I am sure that I speak for both sides of the House when I say that I do not think that any hon. Member underestimates the scale of the impact of the Bse Crisis on the families affected by the new strain of Creurtfeldt-Jacob disease - 15 cases have now been identified - on farmers, on the industry or on the taxpayer.
Mrs. Browning: For details of the cost of the Bse Crisis, I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave him on 3 February 1997, Official Report, column 513.
Mr. Baldry: I refer the hon. Member to the full statement by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster during the debate on the Bse Crisis, Official Report, columns 708–13.
Will the Minister confirm that the police in Wales and in other parts of the United Kingdom have responsibility for the security of the slaughtered carcases and rendered remains of cattle as a result of the Bse Crisis?
(2) what sums have been provided to cover the costs of the Bse Crisis for (a) 1996–97, (b) 1997–98, (c) 1998–99 and (d) 1999–2000.
Mr. Baldry: The Government are providing temporary financial assistance to the rendering industry as part of our package of measures designed to maintain essential links in the meat supply and disposal chain in the aftermath of the Bse Crisis.
Will the Prime Minister admit that the Government's failure to resolve the Bse Crisis has cost taxpayers billions of pounds and the beef industryhundreds of millions, and that still there is no end in sight?
Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the full economic cost to the United Kingdom of the Bse Crisis, excluding the cost to the Government.
The Bse Crisis has been deemed a national issue and most of the funds to support the programme have been found from elsewhere.
Our policy throughout the Bse Crisis, both before and after 20 March last year, has been to be wholly open and candid with the public and the House, for the kind of reason that the hon. Lady has just identified.
Is it not true that, if Labour's policy in 1990 of an animal identification system had been in place, there would have been no cull, the taxpayer in this country would have been millions of pounds better off and the Bse Crisis would have already ended?
How many slaughterhouses were not up to standard in December 1995, and how many in March 1996, when the Bse Crisis broke?
The Bse Crisis cost the taxpayer £3.
forms part of our package of measures designed to maintain essential links in the meat supply and disposal chain in the aftermath of the Bse Crisis.
The Leader of the House will recall that I raised in a previous Question Time the need for a full statement on the disposal aspect of the Bse Crisis, which relates to both the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Secretary of State for the Environment.
The current estimates of the extra amounts paid out as a result of the Bse Crisis in Scotland to the industry under the following schemes to 31 December 1996 are as follows: £ million Beef special premium and suckler cow premium schemes: top-ups 16.
The committees set up by the forum have also produced some interesting reports, for example on the Bse Crisis, on opposition to the Government's proposals on the education and library boards, which were mentioned in an earlier debate, and on water fluoridation.
We have, I fear, an appalling inheritance from the previous Government's mishandling of the Bse Crisis.
The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has adopted a sensible approach to the Bse Crisis.
Foremost among those concerns is the need to lift the beef ban following the fiasco of the Bse Crisis.
The handling of the Bse Crisis was terrible and I welcome the Foreign Secretary's pledge to work with Europe and to be at the centre of Europe in order to ensure the lifting of the beef ban as quickly as possible.
I am glad to have this opportunity of an early debate on the Bse Crisis.
The parties of Northern Ireland were united on the Bse Crisis and in opposing the proposals of the shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for the dismantling of our education system.
Will my right hon. Friend find time to discuss the collapse of beef prices following the previous Government's mishandling of the Bse Crisis?
Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will consult food consumer groups on the case for a judicial inquiry into the handling of the Bse Crisis.
Mr. Rooker: I intend to have close contacts with consumer groups, and will be happy to hear their views on all aspects of the Bse Crisis, including the case for an inquiry.
Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement about the Government's plans to compensate beef farmers in Monmouthshire as a result of the Bse Crisis.
Our farmers, too, and the 800 people whose jobs were jeopardised in the past year by the Bse Crisis look forward to the new Government's actions with anticipation.
Yes, but the reality is that the mishandling of the Bse Crisis in this country has been a scandal that has cost the taxpayer approaching £2 billion - [HON.
We are bound by the European legislation that came about as a consequence of the Bse Crisis.
There is strong evidence that the solitude of farmers and the continuing Bse Crisis, which is affecting North Yorkshire's beef and dairy herds, is bringing many other pressures to rural communities and families.
I thank the Minister for his courtesy in the discussions about the immediate pressing Bse Crisis, which has affected the whole beef sector.
Obviously, the new ministerial team will be aware that beef prices have been very low in Wales this year, lower even than at the height of the Bse Crisis.
Secondly, there is the importation of beef from EU and third countries - beef that does not meet the high hygiene standards in the UK imposed as a result of the Bse Crisis.
I acknowledge the considerable cost to the Exchequer resulting from the Bse Crisis and I know that that cost has been revised upwards in recent days, but I hope that the Minister will recognise the importance of agriculture to the rural economy.
They, like the constituents of Torridge and West Devon, are experiencing severe difficulties as a result of the Bse Crisis and bovine tuberculosis.
The Bse Crisis had a tremendous impact in rural areas.
Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the percentage of the total Government expenditure relating to the Bse Crisis that reaches farmers.
Time and again - most clearly in the Bse Crisis - we have seen how all the threats, bluster and vetoes in the world culminated only in a humiliating climbdown by the then Conservative Government.
The rural areas are not without their problems; the six most northerly parishes are part of the SRB 5 area, and the Bse Crisis caused much distress to many of my constituents.
The first - then, it was almost a plea - was that the Bse Crisis should not result in what I called Euro-bashing.
Will my hon. Friend comment on the fact that beef cattle in constituencies such as mine, which are effectively store cattle and are raised in open forest in the most ecological conditions, are particularly penalised by the changes to the OTMS, when they are the least responsible for the Bse Crisis?
Over the past three years, the sums paid out have declined considerably from the payments first made at the height of the Bse Crisis.
Mr. Charles Kennedy: To ask the Prime Minister when he expects to be able to announce his decision on a judicial inquiry into the Bse Crisis.
The right hon. Gentleman should not compare prices now with prices before the Bse Crisis.
The pressing issue of the Bse Crisis is not the export ban but the failure to act effectively and vigorously to ensure that imports are of the same standard that we insist on from our own producers.
the green pound and its effect on commodity support; the Bse Crisis and the previous Government's refusal—and, so far, the refusal of this Government—to ask the European Union for additional support; the reduction of support through the over-30-months scheme; and the continuing ban on exports.
At the time of the Bse Crisis, they said that the Conservative Government were not doing enough to lift the ban, but the ban has not been lifted since 1 May.
Beef prices are worse than they were last year due to the continuing effect of the Bse Crisis and the export ban, and the effect of a strong pound.
Of immediate relevance is the Ministry of Agriculture's pre-empting of the outcome of this year's review of hill livestock compensatory allowances by freezing payments at 1996 levels, and its cancellation of the supplement paid last year in recognition of the Bse Crisis, which amounted to some £9.
For example, we heard about the problems surrounding the strength of the pound; the green pound and its effect on commodity support; the Bse Crisis and the previous Government's refusal - and, so far, the refusal of this Government - to ask the European Union for additional support; the reduction of support through the over-30-months scheme; and the continuing ban on exports.
We provided an extra £60 million on HLCAs because of the effect on hill farming incomes of the Bse Crisis, which is still affecting many farmers.
The £60 million would not have been in the Government's spending plans, because nobody could have predicted the huge scale of the Bse Crisis.
Some of the comments made when the Bse Crisis began did not help hill farmers in Wales.
The Bse Crisis has certainly added to the difficulties that hill farmers are facing.
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his estimate of the full cost of the Bse Crisis to (a) the United Kingdom and (b) other European Union countries.
Mr. Rooker: Our estimate of the financial cost of the Bse Crisis to the Exchequer over the four years 1996–97 to 1999–2000 is approximately £3.
I realise that the over-30-monthsscheme is not universally popular and that there are some problems with it - not least that it is one of the single most expensive schemes in which we are engaged in dealing with the Bse Crisis.
Finally, the Minister of Agriculture gave notice earlier in the week that the Government are actively considering our representations that there should be a full inquiry into not just the last 18 months of the Bse Crisis, but the way in which it developed under the previous Government.
The rates of payment for Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowances in 1997 included a one off increase to help farmers cope with the immediate effects of the Bse Crisis.
We all understand the terrible cost to the Exchequer and the nation of the Bse Crisis.
Dairy farmers, for example, did not have their principal product - milk - dramatically affected by the Bse Crisis.
said that they had lost business directly during the OTMS, as a result of the Bse Crisis.
The over-30-months destruction of cattle scheme is the single most expensive part of the Bse Crisis.
The beef industry is certainly paying the price throughout the chain - in transport and retail - for the Bse Crisis.
We have always made it clear that we will accept SEAC's advice on the Bse Crisis.
There are problems that are associated with the high level of the pound at the moment and there is the backlog following 10 years of Conservative failure to deal with the Bse Crisis.
They failed to deal with the Bse Crisis and to provide a platform for Welsh fanning.
That is the price we are paying for the consequences of the Bse Crisis, in addition to the appalling consequences for the health and well-being of young people.
The hon. Gentleman may care to bear in mind something that has not been mentioned so far in the debate: QMV in relation to public health, particularly in relation to the Bse Crisis on which we had a statement today.
May I support the plea of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Soames) for a debate on the Bse Crisis as soon as possible?
I had hoped to avoid going into the origins of the Bse Crisis and apportioning blame.
One of the problems with beef is that, while the hind quarter has sold exceptionally well since the beginning of the Bse Crisis, there have been difficulties in shifting the cheaper cuts.
The history of the problem, which goes back far beyond the Immediate Bse Crisis, will demonstrate that actions taken by the previous Government on deregulation and so on are extremely relevant to the situation in which we now find ourselves.
It has been implied this morning that the whole of the problem in the hills falls to the Bse Crisis.
Mr. Rooker: The Government recognise that the meat supply chain, including butchers and other small businesses, has suffered as a result of the Bse Crisis.
Does the Prime Minister agree that the Bse Crisis is an urgent agricultural matter?
Does my right hon. Friend agree that a public inquiry into the Bse Crisis would be helpful under the forthcoming freedom of information Act?
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the numbers and grades of civil servants, special advisers and other employees and advisors to his Department, who have been (a) dismissed and (b) reprimanded as a result of their advice or work on the Bse Crisis within the Department since 1986.
Dr. John Cunningham [holding answer 12 December 1997]: No staff in the core department have been dismissed or reprimanded as a result of their advice or work on the Bse Crisis.
Letter from Johnstone McNeill to Mr. Paul Keetch, dated 22 December 1997: As Chief Executive of the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) your Parliamentary Question to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food about the number and grades of employees who have been dismissed or reprimanded as a result of their advice or work on the Bse Crisis since 1986 has been passed to me for reply with regard to this Executive Agency.
Can he assure us that the inquiry into the Bse Crisis will include an inquiry into the payments made to date to farmers, because there is grave concern in my constituency that much of the money that has been put into the industry has found its way not into farmers' pockets but into those of middlemen?
Mr. Öpik: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what stage the applications for EU compensation for (a) beef farmers, (b) dairy farmers and (c) sheep farmers affected by the Bse Crisis have reached.
They include the direct and knock-on effects of the Bse Crisis, the continuing ban on beef exports and the grossly over-valued pound, which brings in cheaper imports, makes it more difficult to export and adversely affects the parity of the pound against the green pound.
The Bse Crisis was an appalling body blow to farming initially, and the previous Government responded with a package that gave security and, importantly, time.
Indeed, some of the supermarkets have made huge profits out of farmers during the Bse Crisis.
I agree that severe problems face upland farmers not only in Wales but throughout Britain, not least of which is the legacy of the Bse Crisis, which the Government also face, which has hit Britain in recent years.
The object of the support for the rendering industry, which was decided by the previous Administration, was to avoid problems in the meat chain in the immediate aftermath of the Bse Crisis.
The Minister is aware of the enormous, disproportionate impact of the Bse Crisis on beef farming in Northern Ireland.
The study, which includes an assessment of the public expenditure and employment effects of the Bse Crisis, is currently being finalised and will be published shortly.
Because of the Bse Crisis and the value of the green pound, and thanks to the previous Government and the problems that they caused, the rural economy is in a desperate plight.
When the Minister replies, he might be tempted to rake over the coals of the previous Administration's handling of the Bse Crisis, but I respectfully suggest that he leaves that to the Phillips inquiry and concentrates instead on that for which he and his Government have been responsible since 1 May.
Mr. Pike: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his current estimate of the total cost to (a) his Department, (b) the farming industry and (c) the meat processing industry of the Bse Crisis.
Mr. Rooker: The estimated cost to the Department of the Bse Crisis is £3.
Is it not the case that there would be no need for prosecutions, or for the regulations banning beef on the bone, if the Tories had acted quickly when in government to quell the Bse Crisis instead of dragging their feet?
The problems of farmers are immense, but their main problem is the Bse Crisis created by the Conservative Government.
One of the problems that we face in the rural villages - more than 20 altogether - is that they were utterly ruined by the last Tory Government, who shut every single pit in every single pit village, and created a Bse Crisis that has hammered all the small farmers in my constituency.
Mr. Rooker: Financial aid specifically aimed at compensating the beef and veal sectors for the effects of the Bse Crisis on beef prices was made available to Member States in 1996 under two separate Council Regulations, EC No.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke about the Bse Crisis.
What about the Bse Crisis?
The hon. Gentleman made a strong attack on my handling of the Bse Crisis when I was a Minister.
Mr. Rooker: The objective of the support to the rendering industry was to avoid the disorderly collapse of the meat chain in the immediate aftermath of the Bse Crisis.
It is a pity that Conservative Members did not take sufficient interest in the Bse Crisis when it first broke, because, if they had, we would not be in this situation.
Their mismanagement meant that there were hidden taxes - for example, the Bse Crisis cost £3.
The farming industry is already facing the continuing effects of the Bse Crisis, and suffering from high exchange rates and dramatically lower farm gate prices.
Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what support groups have been established to assist farmers in respect of the Current Bse Crisis.
Mr. Rooker: We are not aware of any support groups established specifically to assist farmers in respect of the Bse Crisis.
There are reflections of the Bse Crisis in the problems affecting beekeeping because of the spread of the varroa mite.
I am sure that farmers around the country will be interested in the Chancellor's analysis that wheat prices have gone down because of the Bse Crisis.
The right hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory) mentioned the plight of agriculture and the rural economy as a result of the level of the pound and the problems caused by the decline in the beef industry as a result of the Bse Crisis.
The Bse Crisis is costing the taxpayer dearly; and in various ways, including the ban on beef exports, it has had a disastrous effect on the market for red meat.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Collins) has a very short memory if he has forgotten that Welsh agriculture is in a mess primarily because of the Bse Crisis, which the Conservatives ignored and which the present Secretary of State for Wales was first to bring to their attention?
I shall now focus on the continuing problems caused to our livestock producers as a consequence of the Bse Crisis and the beef ban.
They have suffered long and hard as a result of the Bse Crisis and the export ban.
A solution is desperately needed to the Bse Crisis.
Then they declared a beef war with the European Union over its response to the Bse Crisis that their mismanagement had created.
Mr. Jack: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the economic impact on the UK livestock industry of BSE, excluding the effect of public funds deployed during the Bse Crisis to compensate farmers for its effects.
My right hon. Friend will know that the incomes of many farmers have been suppressed because of the legacy of the Bse Crisis.
The Government took over an industry that was devastated by the Bse Crisis, with farm incomes plummeting since March 1996, and it takes time to stop such a precipitious fall.
Mr. Rooker: The objective of the rendering industry support was to avert the disorderly collapse of the red meat/animal waste chain in the immediate aftermath of the Bse Crisis in March 1996.
It is doubtful whether the Bse Crisis could have deepened as it did had the public had proper access to information.
There is some concern in the farming community about the fact that the Government, understandably, often represent sums paid out in the wake of the Bse Crisis as subsidy to farming.
For tallow, according to a Meat and Livestock Commission report, there are some opportunities for renderers at £70 per tonne, whereas before the Bse Crisis they were getting up to £400 per tonne for the same products.
My beef farmers know that the single biggest factor in the present situation has been the Bse Crisis; they are having to cope with the terrible legacy of it.
The NAO has said that the Bse Crisis has been the single most expensive peacetime catastrophe.
The London Economics report has an element of controversy about it, the second draft being a revision of the first; the comment that beef farmers had been inefficient and complacent operators immediately before the Bse Crisis was withdrawn.
There is no going back, so we must take account of the Bse Crisis.
That is impossible because, as some hon. Members have said, the issues go back to the Bse Crisis, and many of them are intertwined.
When the Bse Crisis ends, there is the danger of a glut in the market.
The introductory sentence of the report by the Select Committee on Agriculture is prophetic, not to mention stark:The beef industry in the UK is in a critical condition, because of the Bse Crisis, the strength of sterling and the long-term decline in consumer demand.
The Bse Crisis has been one of their most traumatic experiences.
I only hope that we do not have Another Bse Crisis, never mind an overshoot on inflation.
There were bitter memories of a Government who dug themselves deeper and deeper into a hole - into a bunker, perhaps - and were afraid to face reality, especially over some of the crises that occurred towards the end of that Administration, such as the Bse Crisis.
Why did he confirm nothing more than the target of resolving the Bse Crisis, giving no firm commitment to campaign to end it, and ending the early retirement scheme, which had never begun, as well as the calf processing aid scheme?
Mr. Hood: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the net job losses in rural communities resulting from the Bse Crisis.
Mr. Hood: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his most recent estimate of the total cost to public funds of the Bse Crisis.
Mr. Rooker: The current estimated cost of the Bse Crisis is £4.
We were told that the Government had poured between £3 billion and £4 billion into the Bse Crisis, that farmers had had enough money and that the Exchequer would not give them any more.
Prior to the Bse Crisis, he had a £42 million turnover, but that figure is now down to £30 million.
Developments only last week, when the Commission took action on the Bse Crisis in Portugal, will give cover to those in Europe who want to ensure that even now the beef ban is not lifted.
Does he agree that the hon. Member for South Suffolk (Mr. Yeo), who speaks for the Opposition, might show a little more humility, not only because of the extent to which his Government compounded the effect of the Bse Crisis on the industry, but because, last Wednesday, an article by the Leader of the Opposition in the Daily Telegraph made it clear that there is no way that a Conservative Government would have found the money for this package?
Yesterday, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food had the cheek to claim credit for the ending of the Bse Crisis.
I hope that consumers there, throughout western Europe and worldwide will understand that we have made an enormous effort, and spent an enormous sum - more than £4 billion will have been spent on the Bse Crisis by the end - to ensure that our beef products are among the safest in the world.
The best thing that we can do is explain how Britain has got through the Bse Crisis, explain what measures we have put in place to ensure that exported British beef is truly among the safest in the world - that goes for Northern Ireland beef from the herd scheme that is in place in Northern Ireland as well - and restore consumer confidence in British beef as a first-class product.
I fully accept that the Bse Crisis has hit the domestic industry pretty severely.
By the time we have come through the Bse Crisis our country will have spent over £4 billion of taxpayers' money, supplemented to a small degree by resources from the European Union, to ensure the safety of the public.
A further example is the Tory Government's handling of the Bse Crisis, which cost £5 billion.
Farmers are going through a particularly difficult time as a result of world trading conditions and the aftermath of the Bse Crisis.
I find that quite offensive, especially as the Conservative Government were clearly to blame for the Bse Crisis, which is still having a great impact on agriculture and on the agricultural problems that we face.
Will the Minister tell the House on what basis British beef was rejected from the Us in the early 1980s, before the Bse Crisis?
Presumably, that is all part of the hidden agenda of Euro-scepticism, which led to the current Government having to sort out the Bse Crisis by abandoning the isolationism and impotence that characterised the previous Government.
Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment she has made of the possibility of utilising the spare capacity at the incinerator at Duncrue in Belfast for the incineration of meat and bone meal and tallow required under the Over Thirty Month Scheme arising out of the Bse Crisis.
The Bse Crisis drove many retailers to the wall.
Is not that really good news for British beef farmers, by stark contrast with the dark days under the previous Government during Their Bse Crisis?
This is like the Bse Crisis coming back and back again, without any sign of an end.
We are still feeling the effects of the unavoidable implications of the Bse Crisis.
Before the Minister leaves the subject of pigs, does he envisage some relief on the some £5 a beast that it costs the industry to undertake the measures inspired by the Bse Crisis, which have nothing to do with the pig industry?
Incidentally, there is not a word of apology from the hon. Gentleman about the Bse Crisis nor a reference to the Government who presided over it in the first place.
If the disappearance of our pig industry due to exogenous influences, namely the Bse Crisis, is not an exceptional circumstance, I do not know what is.
Indeed, until the Bse Crisis, we were able to supply internationally, particularly in sectors such as beef.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the introduction of the animal traceability scheme through the establishment of the British cattle movement centre in my constituency by this Labour Government, will not only help to resolve at an early stage the Crisis of Bse, but will help to secure safeguards against fraud under the European Union beef regime?
The previous Government presided over the Bse Crisis, so they should not advise us on how to handle agricultural issues.
To those Conservative Members who have been shouting out, I have to say there is no doubt as to why the farming industry is in this position - it is because of the Bse Crisis, which was a result of the previous Government ignoring proper scientific evidence.
the implications of the Bse Crisis for the beef sector, and BSE-related controls that have impacted on the whole of the livestock sector; and the loss of overseas markets with recession in the far east and collapse of the Russian economy.
The reasons for the fall in farm incomes are well known: the strength of the pound; the implications of the Bse Crisis for the beef sector, and BSE-related controls that have impacted on the whole of the livestock sector; and the loss of overseas markets with recession in the far east and collapse of the Russian economy.
We need to remind ourselves that, for all the attacks that are made on the Minister, he was not in office at the start of the Bse Crisis.
I remind the hon. Gentleman that it was a Conservative Minister who admitted in the House that that was the most likely cause of the Bse Crisis.
The official Opposition also pretend that farming problems started in May 1997, whereas, as we all know, the real start of our problems was the Bse Crisis.
Secondly, as colleagues have mentioned, since the Bse Crisis, hygiene costs - especially in abattoirs - have been greater here than elsewhere.
The shambles happened when the Conservative party presided over the Bse Crisis.
Likewise, as a result of the Bse Crisis, we see grave concern about many aspects of the food industry and agricultural production.
Those businesses that are supplying and supplied by agriculture and horticulture are still suffering the after-effects of the Bse Crisis, which has also had a major effect on the health of the national economy.
Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the level of domestic consumption of home-produced beef since the Bse Crisis.
Ms Quin: Domestic consumption of beef has recovered sharply from the depressed levels following the Bse Crisis of 563 thousand tonnes in 1996 to 707 thousand tonnes in 1998.
That is not by chance, but is caused by factors such as the strong pound, the consequences of the Bse Crisis and the downward pressure on prices exerted in the common agricultural policy.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the House should receive an apology from Conservative Members for their mishandling of the Bse Crisis?
The Bse Crisis may be nearly over, but it has devastated our fine herds.
The cost of the Bse Crisis may reach £5 billion overall by 2001.
It is hoped that that will give some help to the beef industry which, as has been pointed out many times today, has been so gravely injured by the Bse Crisis.
He is right to highlight the difficulties that arose because of the Bse Crisis.
I understand that the hon. Gentleman and his party are seeking what relics of advantage they can from the aftermath of the Bse Crisis.
It is recognised that the measures taken as necessary safeguards in the wake of the Bse Crisis entail potential costs for the industry.
I am very careful about where I take advice from, and I shall not take it from the party which formed the Government who presided over the Bse Crisis in the first place, who recommend that we start a trade war with the French, and who suggest that we should adapt the science - on the basis of no scientific evidence - so that we can ban French produce from entering this country.
My right hon. Friend has reminded the House of the circumstances of the Bse Crisis and its consequences.
The domestic beef market is enormously important to beef farmers in the UK, and it speaks volumes for public confidence in our thorough public protection measures that beef sales are now higher than they were when the Bse Crisis first broke.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman was a prominent member of the previous Government, who presided over the Bse Crisis.
Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that British pig farmers are unique in facing extra costs because of the Bse Crisis?
To that end, will he back Agriculture Ministers' efforts to remove from the pig industry the cost of the Bse Crisis?
There is no doubt that the Bse Crisis has caused the pig industry difficulties.
Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has made to the European Commission for compensation for the public health related costs imposed on pig farmers following the Bse Crisis.
As I was the agriculture spokesman during the Bse Crisis, I would need to have a very thick head not to have been converted to the cause of freedom of information.
Such remarks come ill from members of the Conservative party, which presided over the Bse Crisis in this country.
I have here two letters, the first of which is from the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Franz Fischler, dated 22 December, in which he says:the Commission has recognised the Bse Crisis as an exceptional occurrence, and has authorized a number of aid measures to mitigate the effects of the crisis, including aids for the pig sector.
The Bse Crisis left the industry with greatly increased costs throughout the supply chain and with little or no export market for British beef.
Countless surveys and much market testing reveal that after the Bse Crisis and the more recent Belgian food scare, and following the strenuous efforts by producers, retailers and UK Governments of both colours, British consumers believe, rightly, that their benchmark today is the production standards that are required and applied in this country.
The Government are taking a lead on the labelling initiative precisely because of the major difficulties precipitated by the Bse Crisis and other events.
The Bse Crisis is exacerbated by the continuing refusal of the French and the Germans to accept our exports.
The second factor is the Bse Crisis.
While beef farmers are recovering slowly from the Bse Crisis, sheep farmers have experienced two years of poor returns, with prices only now rising from very depressed levels.
The factors which have hit the industry are many and varied; the strength of sterling; the Bse Crisis; welfare issues and requirements which our EU colleagues are not restricted by; unfair treatment by supermarkets and also a glut of pigmeat throughout Europe.
The ban on the use of meat and bone meal, for example, as a result of the Bse Crisis has added to the problem.
Hill farmers in my constituency have had a rough time over the Bse Crisis and the general crisis in stock farming, and there is a huge temptation for them to sell off a wall to bridge a short-term crisis or financial problem.
The problem that the farming industry has had, in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, has been a combination, obviously, of the strong pound, which has caused problems, plus the leftover from the Bse Crisis, which has hit not only the beef sector, but other sectors.
I believe that, as a result of the Bse Crisis and other problems, there has been a collapse of public confidence in the expert advice that Governments take and on which they rely in crucial matters.
Many years before the Bse Crisis, the United States banned British beef; and it still does so.
How would he categorise the £5 billion that is the approximate current cost of the Bse Crisis, the £10 billion cost of the poll tax debacle, and the £28 billion overspend in the last year of the Conservative Government, largely because of the cost of social and economic failure?
The effects of the Bse Crisis have gone wider than the cattle industry and have affected the pig industry too.
I was a fly on the wall, as a very junior member of the Government in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, when the Bse Crisis boiled over.
Let us consider the Bse Crisis.
What has been the cost to the Exchequer of the Bse Crisis.
Total expenditure on the Bse Crisis is estimated to be £4.
Does he accept that, if Professor Ebringer's theories are right - he questions the prion theory - it would have had a significant impact on lowering the cost of handling the Bse Crisis?
Not only have Conservatives failed to remember their tax increases, but, yesterday, they completely failed to remember their own action in respect of the closure of post offices, if the right hon. Lady was present for Agriculture questions a few minutes ago, she will know that they now have thenerve to have forgotten completely not only their mismanagement of the Bse Crisis, but their demolition of the milk marketing scheme, which completely destroyed dairy farmers.
I missed the Conservatives' forgetting that they had some hand in the Bse Crisis, but I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman for calling it to my attention.
we must address other issues, such as the costs of the Bse Crisis.
However, this is not the time to address that issue; we must address other issues, such as the costs of the Bse Crisis.
First, the Bse Crisis is having a continuing impact on the livestock sector.
We need only think back to the beef ban that the previous Conservative Government initiated at the height of the Bse Crisis to see that such measures do not work.
Thirdly, we have the aftermath of the Bse Crisis, which we will be able to discuss when the report comes out.
Will he accept that it is hard to discern a difference between the way in which Government Departments now work and the way in which they worked when the Conservatives were in charge during the Bse Crisis?
Some Labour Members have mentioned the Bse Crisis.
It is not surprising that there is much public concern about food safety following the crass way in which the previous Conservative Government handled the Bse Crisis, as mentioned by my right hon. Friend.
It is the new technologies, new production methods and the new ways of feeding livestock that have produced disasters like the Bse Crisis and engendered tremendous concerns, such as those relating to GM technology, as mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox.
Does he agree that hill farmers have suffered a triple whammy: the total mismanagement of the Bse Crisis by the previous Government, the general depression in livestock prices and, now, the absolutely correct emphasis on the role of hill farmers in the leisure and environmental management of the countryside in future?
Can she give any indication when the Government expect to receive the report of the Phillips inquiry into the sad saga and gross mishandling of the Bse Crisis by the previous Government?
No agriculture debate can take place without reference to the Bse Crisis, which cost £4 billion and the loss of 37,000 jobs, while the organic sector was BSE-free.
Will the Minister also bear in mind the fact that, following the Bse Crisis, the traceability of animals or animal products is now completely under control?
My Lords, perhaps my noble friend will excuse me for returning to the charges made for the disposal of affected cattle at the time of the Bse Crisis.
May I also emphasise the need for an early debate on the Bse Crisis?
The Bse Crisis extended across the country, but the actions taken in this instance prevented an extremely infectious virus from spreading from Norfolk and Suffolk to other parts of the United Kingdom, so compliments are due.
If we leave the Bill where it is--even including the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Lester--most of the information whose suppression featured in the Bse Crisis would still have been suppressed.
When I look back at the history of the Bse Crisis, it seems to me that it was the lack of that contribution to government decisions that made the crucial difference and enabled the Government to make the errors that occurred.
Not one document in relation to the Bse Crisis came out under the code of practice.
They pushed aside the advice of the chief medical officer of the then Welsh Office that there was something badly wrong with the handling of the Bse Crisis.
I cannot believe that any hon. Member would take advice on food safety from Ministers in the previous Conservative Government - who incompetently presided over the Bse Crisis in this country, and now seek to advise on what should be done in France.
The Bse Crisis - remote as that might seem - and the genetically modified crops debacle have all caused the public to re-evaluate the role of science in our society.
It would be a dreadful tragedy if the Bse Crisis - which has led to enough dreadful tragedies as it is - affected Members' judgment of the regulations.
Indeed, I acknowledge - otherwise, it will be said against me - that I personally am responsible for one such measure: the prohibition on head deboning at the time of the Bse Crisis.
As a result, there was a continuous culture of secrecy in Whitehall, which led to the Bse Crisis and other problems.
He should take no lessons from a Conservative Party that gave us the poll tax, mishandled the Bse Crisis, invented Railtrack and caused all the chaos on the railways.
Unfortunately--although it was perhaps unforeseen --they presided over the Bse Crisis.
Many noble Lords have mentioned the Bse Crisis and swine fever which, unjustifiably, in my opinion, continue to cause doubts in relation to food safety.
When one looks at her history and past statements, one sees that she worked as a Minister at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in the previous Government during the Bse Crisis, and was named in the Phillips report and got the judgment wrong.
The farming problem started with the Bse Crisis.
We have all observed the recent problems in the food safety arena: the Bse Crisis and, lately, the issue of genetically modified crops are the most extreme examples.
That is difficult because there is a mistrust of scientists, possibly because of the disasters that we have all experienced, such as the Bse Crisis.
Do not serious questions now need to be asked about that policy and the future of the EU's strategy to deal with a Bse Crisis developing in continental Europe?
I fear that we will not be able as speedily as that to have a debate on the Phillips report on the Bse Crisis.
That is true of the issue of depleted uranium, although the Bse Crisis is perhaps the most spectacular example.
Many people who are worried about eating beef after the Bse Crisis now eat fish.
For all the protestations of Conservative Members and for all their criticisms of the Labour party in government, we should not forget that one of the key causes of the collapse of confidence in British agriculture was the Bse Crisis over which they presided.
The costs of the Bse Crisis in Europe risk blowing the CAP apart anyway, so why not bite the bullet and get down to the reform without further political prevarication?
The recent inquiry by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Phillips, into the Bse Crisis makes it plain that any sloppiness in slaughterhouses can have serious consequences.
We know the proportions of the Bse Crisis.
There were failings in the handling of the Bse Crisis.
I hope that we shall return to it in the future, because its recommendations extend far beyond the Bse Crisis.
Fishmeal was never considered to have played a part in the Bse Crisis.
If we want to put our finger on the reason, the seminal point was probably the Bse Crisis.
The Minister is well aware of the tremendous damage done to agriculture as a result of the difference between the high value of sterling and the cheaper euro, in addition to the Bse Crisis and several others.
It is particularly hard to be plunged into something so dire at a time when the industry appears to be emerging from the depths of depression after the Bse Crisis.
That was permitted during the Bse Crisis.
Ms Quin [holding answer 26 February 2001]: The Commission proposals are for a seven point plan to address the serious disruption of the beef and veal market resulting from the Bse Crisis.
In the debate two weeks ago on the Bse Crisis, there was much talk of joined-up Government and Departments working together.
The Bse Crisis led to the Phillips report, which made me think about the lessons that we might have learned from the 1967 epidemic of foot and mouth disease and the single outbreak on the Isle of Wight in 1981.
We had some experience of these matters when the Bse Crisis hit us in March 1996.
I know that my right hon. Friend is, among other things, anxious to learn the lessons of the Phillips report and the handling of the Bse Crisis, and feels that open and transparent provision of information is desirable in such circumstances.
I want to make the case that such losses are not consequential; they constitute different types of direct loss brought about, yet again, by the Conservative party's mismanagement of the Bse Crisis.
Due to the Bse Crisis, the pig industry on its knees a few years later, the fuel cost rising 42 per cent.
However, can he give an absolute assurance that all the lessons about the co-ordination of all activities that were not learned during the Bse Crisis have now been learned?
But to that was added the Bse Crisis and the slaughter of the animals that took place; then there was swine fever and the slaughter of animals; now there is foot and mouth disease.
We know from the Bse Crisis that getting that balance wrong can result in a very great cost.
During the Bse Crisis, there was justifiable criticism that food safety and agriculture were the responsibility of the same Ministry, and, at times, Ministers from the Department of Health came to the House to deal with public safety issues.
The outbreak could not have come at a worse time, following the Bse Crisis; swine fever last year; the strength of the pound, which has hit tourism hard, as well as hitting farming and exporting industries; and appalling disruption to rail services in most of the south-west.
I chaired some meetings in my region about that six years ago during the Bse Crisis.
The truth is that the recession in farming started six years ago on the back of the Bse Crisis that was so appallingly mishandled by the Conservatives when they were in office.
The total cost of the Bse Crisis to the UK up to and including 2000–01 was approximately £3.
They suffered from the Bse Crisis before that.
That comes oddly from a party who steadfastly refused any kind of inquiry into the Bse Crisis, which was certainly one of the worst disasters to befall this country and continues to overshadow agriculture today.
They were, of course, exacerbated by the Bse Crisis, so the foot and mouth outbreak hit an industry that was already in a very poor state.
At the time of the Bse Crisis in the mid-1990s, there was considerable conflicting information and seemingly differing scientific evidence.
Of course, agriculture has had two particularly bitter blows in recent years; the Bse Crisis in the 1980s and 1990s and the more recent tragedy of foot and mouth.
In the Bse Crisis, which I found myself in the middle of, there was an absolute prohibition on planning on the basis that if we made any plans as to what we should do if BSE proved to be infectious to humans, people would worry that it might be infectious to humans and so it was therefore considered better all round if we did not plan.
I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that the Bse Crisis, and the appalling way in which the Conservative Government handled it, was the first blow.
They managed the Bse Crisis hopelessly.
One must ask whether they have learned nothing since the Bse Crisis.
He cited what the report says about the "abysmal" record on health, without seeming to recognise that at least part of the background to those remarks is the Bse Crisis, which certainly did not occur when this Government were in power.
His comments come badly from a member of the party that dealt so poorly with the Bse Crisis not many years ago.
Although UK consumption has shown steady recovery since the Bse Crisis in 1996, recent estimates of consumption in 2000 and 2001 show a downward trend of 2 per cent.
I refer not only to foot and mouth but to the results of the Bse Crisis, which hit the reputation of British livestock farming - a problem from which we have yet to recover.
Farmers are the custodians of the countryside and have suffered terribly not only from the Bse Crisis, but from the foot and mouth crisis as well, which hit my constituency hard.
I remember what it was like even to dare thinking about going against the advice of SEAC when we were in the middle of the Bse Crisis.
I imagine that the Minister does not need me to go into any great detail on the ban of beef exports to the European Union in the wake of the Bse Crisis.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Elliot Morley): In 1996 at the height of the Bse Crisis the then Government and European partners introduced a raft of measures aimed at protecting public health, supporting the market and restoring consumer confidence in beef.
We could have Another Bse Crisis, and we have just had substantial expenditure on an Iraqi war, which could not have been anticipated and for which the Treasury had to make special provision.
After the Bse Crisis, the National Audit Office said: "There are risks involved in doing things differently and new forms of service delivery need to be implemented in a way that minimises the risk of them failing or the quality of public services being maintained or improved".
In her reply, the Minister may claim that dealing with the Bse Crisis, foot and mouth disease and many other problems has reduced the resources available to concentrate on TB.
Why do we vaccinate human beings but Defra sets its face against the same thing in animals, something we have learned over the Bse Crisis?
For example, in the report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Phillips, into the Bse Crisis, three major themes were drawn out as contributing to the disaster.
The reason for that can partially be found in, for example, the way in which the government of the day tried to sweep the Bse Crisis under the carpet, probably at the behest of the penny-pinchers at the Treasury, until they were forced to come clean.
He cited in support of his actions the Tory Government's refusal to compensate those who de-boned the heads of animals when that practice was banned during the Bse Crisis.
Under existing EU arrangements, the labelling of the country of origin is already required for fresh fruit and vegetables and, in the light of the Bse Crisis, for beef.
I have been concerned for a long time, since the Bse Crisis, that legislation has not always been tight enough in this area.
The Bse Crisis was followed by a collapse of farm incomes, which in turn was compounded by the foot and mouth disaster.
I remember when the Bse Crisis blew up.
Following the Bse Crisis, they have still not received the full pay-out that they would have expected, to the extent that the Inland Revenue is seeking to reclaim money.
Looking back to the Bse Crisis, there were some lovely scientists in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, but it was only when they opened up their data to outside people that we understood what was going on.
I keep thinking about the Bse Crisis, which was entirely man made.
That is why, in my experience, we got the Bse Crisis wrong.
Having been at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food during the Bse Crisis, I am familiar with the way in which that may work out in practice.
However, as a member of the FSA board I have seen the move from a nation appalled by the Bse Crisis - my sympathy is with the farmers and the terrible tragedies that they have suffered over the years - and the consequent lack of confidence in food issues generally to one where I believe that we are moving forward confidently to testing and where our surveys show greater consumer confidence across the food chain.
Remember the Bse Crisis or the foot-and-mouth situation, in which the Prime Minister himself realised the limitations of Defra's capacity in this area, turning, at the moment of greatest need, to the Army and the famous brigadier in order to resolve the situation.
The feeling I get, having read the debates and having talked to people, is that, as serious as this situation is, it is not on the same scale as either foot and mouth or the Bse Crisis.
In the beef sector, the lifting of the ban on the export of British beef on3 May is a huge Government success, some 10 years after the Bse Crisis closed the overseas markets.
I do not need to remind the House of the lack of confidence in food following the Bse Crisis and the work that has been undertaken to take us to the position that we are in now.
I was the Minister of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food during the Bse Crisis.
I remember this particularly because I was my party's agriculture spokesman in the Lords when the Bse Crisis broke.
During my period as Science and Technology Minister, the Bse Crisis was suddenly launched upon us.
Following the Bse Crisis, and after the saga of genetic crops, the Science and Technology Committee of your Lordships' House said that, "many are deeply uneasy about the huge opportunities presented by areas of science including biotechnology and information technology, which seem to be advancing far ahead of their awareness and assent.
The Phillips inquiry after the Bse Crisis highlighted a number of clear lessons, one of which was that the public's trust in the chief medical officer is precious and should not be put at risk.
When I was Secretary of State for Scotland, I had to deal with an E.coli crisis, the Bse Crisis and a problem with some radioactive gas being delivered to the Barr's Irn Bru factory.
The Bse Crisis in the UK taught the beef industry valuable lessons about consumer confidence and how the consumer needs to understand, know and have confidence in a product.
I and my hon. Friendthe Member for West Worcestershire (Harriett Baldwin) have worked together to help the Government make sure that Russia lifts the ban on cattle imports that it imposed after the Bse Crisis.
A classic example was the case brought by the National Farmers Union in the context of the Bse Crisis - NFU v.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the matter, as something following on from the Bse Crisis, is that every 10 years we have either a food scare or a food crisis.
In the 28 years since the Crisis of Bse in cattle erupted, no case of a natural transfer of BSE to sheep has ever been found.
I freely admit that I acted as I did because I had observed the Bse Crisis, when officialdom had kept punting things to all sorts of special advisory committees and God knows what, with the various Departments involved being what might be described as a decision-free zone.
Many will remember that, as Minister for Agriculture, I dealt for four years with the Bse Crisis.