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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

If we had not been prepared to put public money behind supporting this important industry, I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman would be leaping to his feet demanding that we do so. There is no pleasing some people. You are right, Mr. Deputy Speaker: from now on, I shall ignore interventions.

Several hon. Members mentioned the mature beef scheme. I would have liked to be able to announce the implementation and full details of the scheme by now. The House will know that we have formally consulted on it, and representatives of the industry have been to see me twice during that consultation, but there is a delay, and I welcome the opportunity to explain it to the House.

The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee has asked some specific questions about the detail of the scheme. I am sure that the House will understand that it is important that the scheme has SEAC's full support. When the committee meets on 2 July, it wants an opportunity to discuss two or three elements of the scheme in detail. It is not my place to lean on the committee. I want it to have full information and to reach its conclusion independently. Awaiting SEAC's recommendations is delaying the scheme, but I assure the House that once we have the green light, we shall be ready to go—and implementation will follow shortly thereafter. That responds to the concerns of the hon. Member for Angus, East (Mr. Welsh), because farmers in Scotland and in the regions are anxious to see the scheme up and running. Once I have the full details of the scheme, subject to SEAC's approval, I shall bring them before the House as quickly as possible.