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Orders of the Day — BSE Crisis

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:47 pm on 17th February 1997.

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Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament 5:47 pm, 17th February 1997

I have no doubt that the matter will be investigated under normal audit procedures. The key to dealing with this crisis was taking action to save the industry. That was the objective set out by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and achieved by my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister. Substantial sums of money were put in and there was an enthusiastic response, but we must ensure that public money is responsibly spent.

I look at this debate against that background. If we are to believe reports in the newspapers, the Opposition have a problem about the number of seats available in any Cabinet that they might form. It is suggested that, under a Labour Government, the Minister of Agriculture would be downgraded to a Minister of State, and would not be in the Cabinet. [Interruption.] Opposition Members need not complain. That is an honest appreciation by the Leader of the Opposition of the standing of agriculture in the Labour party. It is the standing it has always had in the Labour party.

The other remarkable thing, which may send a shiver down the spines of my farmers—it certainly sent one down mine—was the presence of the deputy Leader of the Opposition.