Foot and Mouth Disease

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 3:41 pm on 21st March 2001.

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Photo of Tim Yeo Tim Yeo Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 3:41 pm, 21st March 2001

My right hon. Friend speaks with great experience of the industry. The same fear exists in my constituency, as the disease appears to be spreading, despite comments from the Prime Minister. A case was confirmed in a constituency neighbouring mine, just the other side of the county boundary in north Essex, so the disease is getting closer to Suffolk and Norfolk. A real feeling of fear exists in farming communities there, and it is increased by what appears to be the lack of urgency in the measures being taken in some parts of the country to get on top of the problem.

We have backed the main steps that the Government have taken to date. We want to continue a bipartisan approach, so far as we can, to what is clearly a major national crisis, but it is our duty, as the Opposition, to speak out when we believe things are going wrong and the Government's response is inadequate. Since we last debated foot and mouth, there have been worrying signs of dither and confusion inside the Government. To claim, as the Minister regularly does, that the situation is under control may please the Prime Minister, as he ponders his election timetable, but it is in stark contrast to the facts on the ground.