Legislative Programme

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:21 pm on 16th June 1999.

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Photo of Alex Johnstone Alex Johnstone Conservative 3:21 pm, 16th June 1999

I am not here to defend the actions of the previous UK Government, but I must remind Mr Raffan that in the two years since the election in 1997 the economic position of the farming industry in Scotland has been radically altered. There is a sound argument that the problems of the beef industry have their roots in the problems of BSE, but nothing in the problems associated with BSE can account for the problems that now cause our dairy farmers-of whom I am one-to be in a desperate financial position. Nothing in the problems associated with BSE has caused the collapse in grain prices; nothing in them has resulted in the collapse of the sheep industry; nothing in them has caused the unprecedented across-the-board collapse in Scottish agriculture.

Finally, nothing associated with BSE has seriously undermined the pig industry in Scotland. The problems in the pig industry have been caused entirely because the British Government has introduced welfare regulations faster than other European Governments have. That puts pig farmers in an unfair position in competing with their European counterparts.