28 November 2000
Kennedy warns against beef war

By FWi staff

A TIT-FOR-TAT ban on French beef is not in the best interests of Britain, Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has warned farmers.

Far from punishing the French, a ban would merely give France an excuse to continue its illegal ban on British beef, he told listeners at the Smithfield Show.

Moreover, a ban on French beef would do a great deal to undermine confidence in all beef throughout Europe, said Mr Kennedy in a keynote speech.

“This would do an enormous amount of additional harm to our domestic beef farming industry.”

In his speech, Mr Kennedy rounded on the government, claiming that it had “grossly neglected the needs of Britains farmers”.

Farming is vital to a thriving wider rural community, he said.

Without it, schools and shops close, public transport disappears, houses depreciate and people move away, said Mr Kennedy.

He outlined a raft of radical proposals which, he said, the Liberal Democrats would unveil in detail next week.

He proposed that a Parliamentary Ombudsman should monitor the Ministry of Agriculture, and farmers should be allowed to question MAFF decisions.

Going further, the Lib-Dems will propose that MAFF is abolished and replaced by a Department of Rural Affairs, Mr Kennedy added.

Unnecessary regulations should be scrapped, farmers markets promoted, and rural services protected, he said.