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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:30 pm on 19th July 2001.

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Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook Lord Privy Seal 12:30 pm, 19th July 2001

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister did not hide behind the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons—[Hon. Members: "He did."] No, he did not. He accurately reflected its statement, in which it made it plain that it favoured an inquiry that resembled the one that followed the last outbreak of foot and mouth, rather than the protracted public inquiry into BSE.

It is worth while reflecting on the reasons for the royal college's view. It wants any lessons to be learned and any conclusions to be drawn as expeditiously as possible through a proper, full inquiry. As the House knows, a public inquiry takes years. It is a matter of judgment whether we want to wait for years before learning the urgent lessons of the recent outbreak.