30 April 1998
‘Good progress’ over beef ban, says PM

By Martin Hickman, Press Association

THE Prime Minister yesterday (29 April) told the Commons that the Government was making good progress in getting the British beef ban lifted.

Mr Blair said at question time that the Northern Ireland certified herd scheme had been accepted and a date-based scheme might soon allow exports from the mainland.

Attacking Tory MPs, he said: “As for the shouts from the party opposite, the reason why we are having to debate this is because of the mess they left us!”

Raising the issue, the SNPs John Swinney (Tayside N) said he asked Mr Blair when the beef export ban would be lifted on his first question time as Prime Minister.

“You couldnt give us a definitive timescale that day. After 12 months in office, are you any further forward in giving us a definitive timescale today?” he asked.

Mr Blair replied: “I cant give you a specific date, if thats what you want, because its not possible to do that.

“But what I can say is that for the first time we have got progress in that the Northern Ireland certified herd scheme is now through.

“And I can also say that we hope very much and have a reasonable prospect of achieving this that there will be a date-based scheme which will affect Scotland and indeed all parts of the UK, that we can get to the Standing Veterinary Committee, probably in late May.

“Now that would be a very considerable step forward,” he added.