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Orders of the Day — BSE Crisis

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:51 pm on 17th February 1997.

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Photo of Mr James Spicer Mr James Spicer , West Dorset 7:51 pm, 17th February 1997

I have only 10 minutes, and I have already used six.

In total contrast is the approach of our team. I remember with great pride 8 October last year in Bournemouth, when nine members of the NFU, led by Sir David Naish, with the support of Ben Gill, my county chairman John Hoskin and representatives from Wales—sadly, there were no representatives from Scotland and Ulster—came to see the Prime Minister. We had a full and frank exchange of views. We know that of course mistakes are made in a crisis of this sort. I am the first to admit that, and so is my right hon. and learned Friend. We are not all paragons, like Opposition Members.

I remember the summing-up by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister at the end of that two-hour meeting. He said: I will do all in my power to see that this iniquitous ban is lifted, but whatever happens in that respect, my main aim and that of my Government will be to ensure that when BSE is finally eradicated, British agriculture will be in good heart and in a position to take on all comers. That pledge carries us through the life of the next Conservative Government.

Sadly, I shall not be here to see that Government in action, but I know that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister, with all his team, will live up to that pledge. In the past year, they have carried a burden that few in the House or outside can understand. I thank them for all they have done, and I thank those in our party who have given them such splendid and sterling support during a crisis year for agriculture.