16 November 2000
Brown, Yeo clash on French beef

By Alistair Driver

AGRICULTURE minister Nick Brown and his shadow Tim Yeo have clashed over Tory demands that French beef imports should be banned.

Asked by Mr Yeo whether he felt French beef continued to be safe despite an increase in BSE in France, Mr Brown said there was no reason to impose a ban.

“There are no health reasons to ban the importation of French beef,” Mr Brown told the House of Commons on Thursday (16 November).

“That is the [Food Standards] Agencys professional advice to Government and, if you want to dispute it, you should put that evidence in the public domain.”

Mr Yeo said there had been a clear increase in BSE among French cattle.

“As a precaution to protect British consumers, it would be wise to stop the import of potentially BSE-infected French beef coming into Britain,” he said.

But Mr Brown refused to be drawn on whether French beef is safe for British consumers, insisting that it was an issue for the Food Standards Agency.

Farmers leaders have voiced concern that a tit-for-tat trade war with France could be sparked if the British government bans French beef shipments to Britain.