10 May 1996

Labour condemns cull as confidence booster

THE slaughter of apparently healthy cattle has been condemned as appalling by Labour MP Tony Banks (Newham, North-West).

He told the Leader of the House that about 1500 Compassion in World Farming supporters had protested outside Westminster last week and there was considerable anger about the culling of large numbers of healthy adult cattle and calves.

"This is appalling and it is being done in the name of restoring public confidence," he said.

"There is not much public confidence in the government at the moment, but surely no one would suggest that we should cull ministers."

But his Labour colleague, Dennis Skinner (Bolsover), had suggested just that in an earlier debate on BSE. He said it was high time government understood that they were involved in a political issue – it was not technical or academic.

"When they realise that, they will be doing something for the farmers and all the others who have got the sack in Britain.

"It is high time there was a cull – a cull of the cabinet and the government. Let us have a general election and cull the lot of them."

Great damage

During prime ministers questions, Sir Cranley Onslow (Con, Woking) asked Mr Major to ask the foreign secretary, Malcolm Rifkind, to call in all EU member states London ambassadors.

Sir Cranley wanted Mr Rifkind to ensure they reported accurately to their governments the great damage that was being done to British confidence in the EU as a result of Europes handling of the beef crisis.

Mr Major said he would certainly draw the suggestion to the foreign secretary. And he repeated his view that British beef was safe, as both the commission president and the agriculture commissioner had acknowledged. &#42