Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 15th May 2003.

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Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 11:30 am, 15th May 2003

Our response has to be proportionate because, on the one hand, yes, testing places burdens on industry, but many of those tests are either national or international requirements and, on the other, people want food safety to be enhanced, and they will find that encouraging. Wherever possible, we have to ensure that the burdens that we impose are proportionate and reasonable, that they are not excessive and that we do not go in for gold plating, but I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would accept that food safety is of great importance. The Countryside Agency focused on the economics of the local food industry, which of course is another important aspect and something that we are very keen to develop and promote.