My Lords, I believe it is wholly appropriate that this House should turn its mind to the countryside. After all, this is the traditional Chamber of county and country. However, I am astonished that the party opposite has instigated the debate. They, after all, should hang their heads in shame for what they have done to Britain's countryside, to the people who live and work there and to those of us who visit it recreationally.
During the last war and the period of the post-war Labour governments, the British people dug for victory. I remind the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, that in the past two decades in rural Britain the Tories have dug for defeat. Their political interference in the countryside in the application of the free market economics of malign neglect and malevolent negligence has left our rural areas without direction and in disarray. The mad cow crisis was only the culmination--