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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

No; I shall make some progress.

Some would describe them as problems of dentition. That is hardly surprising; nobody, anywhere, has ever conducted such a huge operation. However, those problems were overcome. We cleared the backlog by Christmas, as we said we would. To do that, we had to process more than a third of the total annual beef consumption, but we did it and the scheme is now working smoothly.

I now deal with the ban itself and the selective cull. The ban is wholly unjustified. It is wrong in principle and wrong in law. It should never have been imposed. Its removal, however, is not within our gift. What my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister secured at Florence was a framework that can and should lead to the lifting of the ban. Other member states may find it difficult to honour their part of the bargain; their beef markets have indeed collapsed, and they face pressures from their own farmers and consumers, but we have performed our part of the agreement. We are entitled to look to other member states to perform theirs.