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Orders of the Day — BSE Crisis

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 17th February 1997.

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Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East 3:31 pm, 17th February 1997

Yes, it does. [Laughter.] Conservative Members can laugh as much as they like. On 20 March, the Government made their announcement. On 22 March, a number of Governments, including the French Government, announced a unilateral cessation of imports of beef products from the United Kingdom until the position was clarified. Given the total collapse in the market in this country and given the confusion, the right hon. and learned Gentleman's response was counterproductive. He launched an intemperate attack on the French. He even said—I remember this well—that the French action was probably illegal. Knowing that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was a distinguished lawyer, I thought that he would be right, but he was wrong. The French action was totally legal.

After that date—this is a different development—the European Union imposed its collective ban on the export of British beef and beef products. That was a worldwide ban. I have made it clear and have always done so—indeed, the whole Opposition have agreed with the Government—that that ban is not justified. The reason why it is not justified is that—