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Foot and Mouth

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:14 pm on 21st June 2001.

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Photo of Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 12:14 pm, 21st June 2001

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his remarks. He is right that the walkers of this country have shown the proper respect and concern for the overall welfare of the countryside that we would expect of them. That has been most noticeable. I am sure that he will have noted the burden of my observations about path closure. He is right that in some areas it has been difficult to see how continued closure has been justified. However, where there are genuine local concerns, local authorities will remain able to make that case known and to have it heeded. Obviously, safe handling is essential, although, as he rightly says, it is also essential that we make our countryside available to those who wish to walk in it where it is safe to do so.