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Orders of the Day — BSE Crisis

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:59 pm on 17th February 1997.

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Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food 3:59 pm, 17th February 1997

I want to make some progress, but I will give way again later.

In implementing the measures that I have described, introducing the selective cull and establishing an effective cattle movement and identification scheme, we have complied with all the conditions set out in the Florence agreement. We have done what we said that we would do, and we are now entitled to look to other member states to deliver their side of the bargain. Soon, they will have an opportunity to do so.

The House knows of our proposals for certified herds. They have been prepared, published and available for comment for some time, and we have been working closely with the European Commission on the detailed papers. I myself met Commissioner Fischler at the end of last month. The Government will formally submit those proposals to the Commission at the moment when we are, in my judgment, likely to receive the most favourable response. That will probably be within the next two weeks.

Our proposals for certified herds are general in character, but, because of the low incidence of BSE in Ulster and because of the unique and reliable data base that is available there, they are likely to be of particular benefit to the farmers of Northern Ireland. That is especially true now that the rate at which BSE is occurring in Northern Ireland is lower than the rate in the Republic. I think that that constitutes a response to the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble). The applications will be general in character, but we will not stand in the way of progress in any part of the United Kingdom.