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BSE

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 9:40 pm on 25th June 1996.

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Photo of Angela Browning Angela Browning Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) 9:40 pm, 25th June 1996

No, it is not a south-west matter. Many areas have a lot of animals that will come under the scheme.

We, and my hon. Friend the Minister of State in particular, are working closely with and formally consulting the industry, the NFU and the farming interests to determine how that policy can be taken forward. Given the written commitment of the hon. Member for North Cornwall to the policy, we look to him to play his part, and for his support, in getting right the details of the policy that will help in the lifting of the ban by the autumn, certainly its first stages.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Dr. Strang) made a constructive contribution. Throughout the debates on the subject, his contributions have been informed and certainly a lot more rational than those of the hon. Member for North Cornwall and his colleagues. However, on occasions, he is let down by his colleagues. The hon. Member for Peckham (Ms Harman) has not helped his cause. Tonight he asked the House to keep a sense of perspective by looking at the science and not creating scares over BSE and CJD. He is right to do so. I fully support his words and I hope that they will have been heard by his own colleagues and by other hon. Members.

The hon. Gentleman has also been let down by the leader of the Labour party, who I regret has not had the benefit of listening to him perhaps as much as Conservative Members have. The right hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) shows the two faces of the Labour party on this issue. Here in Great Britain, the official Labour party's policy is, as the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) said, that the Government has adopted a policy of non-co-operation in Europe as its chosen means of ending the ban. Labour will give them our support in the national interest. That was in May. We support and welcome that. 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. The right hon. Gentleman's words are not compatible with what the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East said at the Dispatch Box. There have been times when he has been critical, but in the main we have welcomed the support of the Opposition Front-Bench agriculture spokesman. I hope that the leader of the Labour party will refer to the hon. Gentleman's words.