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Orders of the Day — BSE Crisis

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:42 pm on 17th February 1997.

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Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Witney 4:42 pm, 17th February 1997

Yes; particularly the hon. Member for Peckham.

As Opposition Members often do, they had a choice between treating the situation as a national problem and crisis and joining in—as the Opposition sometimes do, particularly in international matters, as the Foreign Secretary knows—a national task of informing, educating, assessing risk and persuading. They could have taken the latter choice—as the Opposition sometimes do on matters in which the prosperity and security of many of our citizens are at stake. Just as my right hon. and learned Friend the Agriculture Minister had to take his decision within hours and come to the House, so the Opposition had to take their decision within hours. They took it, and they have consistently stuck to it ever since. They chose consistently and narrowly to exploit those difficulties for party advantage.