13 November 1998

Industry cant meet MoDs lamb needs

ALTHOUGH defence minister, George Robertson, says British lamb is the best in the world and that he wants British troops to eat it, the industry has, so far, been unable to meet the Ministry of Defences requirements.

During defence questions in parliament last week, Mr Robertson outlined that beef served to the armed forces based in the UK would now be 100% British. "That follows agreement by the European Commission to proposals from me and my (MAFF) colleagues to allow access to intervention stocks of high quality British beef at competitive prices," he said.

Asked by Stafford MP David Kidney if the lamb served to service personnel could also be 100% British, Mr Robertson replied: "I wish that we could do so. British lamb is the best in the world. I used to help to rear it, and I want British troops to eat it. I hope that the industry will compete to get it on troop canteen plates.

"An attempt was made to procure a substantial forward buy of British lamb, but that was not successful as the industry was not capable of coming forward with it.

"Urgent discussions continue with the farming industry and the Meat and Livestock Commission. We shall ensure that we use every effort to put the maximum amount of lamb on British forces plates."

The problem, Mr Robertson said, was that the bulk of British lamb in the UK was provided fresh or chilled while the MoDs requirement was for frozen lamb. But he added: "We are discussing with the contractor and the industry the best way to get the maximum of British lamb on to British forces plates." &#42