26 July 2002

Confusion highlighted, say Scots

THE report received a broad welcome in Scotland.

Rural development minister, Ross Finnie, and NFU Scotland president, Jim Walker, were pleased Dr Anderson had recognised that the Scottish response to the outbreak was much more effective than that adopted in London.

And on the day the report was published (Mon), Mr Walker hit out at the continuing confusion and lack of leadership shown by the government in Whitehall.

"The report highlights the confusion that existed at the heart of government when foot-and-mouth hit us last year. There was a complete lack of understanding of the seriousness of the problem and, initially, a crucial lack of urgency and strong leadership," said Mr Walker.

"This same confusion continues to characterise the governments approach to controlling the imports which caused this crisis in the first place. There has been little or no increase in resources devoted to checking imports and no improvement in co-ordination between the various agencies who all have a role to play, despite noises to the contrary from the government."

He also criticised the governments plan to force farmers to take out insurance to help cover some of the costs of livestock slaughtered in any future disease outbreak.

"What right-minded insurer will provide cover when the government continues to neglect its responsibilities?" he wondered.

Mr Finnie said recommendations in the Anderson report would provide a valuable contribution to the Scottish Executives thinking on how to handle future major animal disease outbreaks.

"I welcome Iain Andersons report and his generally positive comments on the handling of the outbreak in Scotland. I also welcome his recognition of the close partnership between the executive, the unions, the local authorities, the Army and others," said Mr Finnie.

The report would be studied in detail, with a formal response to the recommendations made in due course, he added. &#42