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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

It is hard to find any phrase to describe the end of the outbreak. On this occasion, we used the phrase "return to normality", which is not subject to challenge or query. Of course, I take the hon. Gentleman's point. We have been consulting on some of the proposals on restrictions on movement and we are aware that there would not be a return to precisely the circumstances that obtained before the outbreak of the disease. There has been consultation, and Ministers are considering the outcome and the responses to it. I am conscious that the proposals are not at all popular with many people, clearly including some who have spoken to the hon. Gentleman. I am also aware of people's anxiety about the impact of the proposals on the future of livestock farming. However, the House would genuinely consider the Government to be in dereliction of our duty if we did not consider whether changes needed to be made in the light of what we have all learned about the potential impact of the disease in the circumstances of today's agriculture.