25 September 1998

Lib-Dems want helpful labels

CHARLES Kennedy, Lib-Dem farm spokesman, used the partys conference in Brighton this week to promise producers that he will use every opportunity in the next parliamentary session to get meaningful labelling laws introduced for British produce.

He also said the party would continue its campaign to secure an independent appeals tribunal for farmers who had claims questioned or rejected by MAFF.

Speaking at an NFU fringe meeting on Monday, Mr Kennedy said: "If we have to wait for Europe to do something about labelling we will be waiting a long time. So, when we go back to parliament, we will be seeking legislation on labelling so that when a consumer goes into a supermarket and sees a label giving the impression that the product is British, it should damned well mean that it is British."

He added that it was a "howling disgrace" that British taxpayers were contributing cash to the EU that was then being paid to assist farmers in other member states, compounding the problems UK producers faced. The agrimonetary compensation that others had claimed, and that British farmers had a right to, must be paid, he insisted.

The need for an independent ombudsman was also paramount. It was unbelievable that MAFF could take decisions, with the same people then able to act as judge and jury if there were appeals. &#42

Mr Kennedy also launched the Lib-Dems new discussion paper, "The two pillars of the CAP", which, he said, was a more detailed approach to reform of the common agricultural policy under the Agenda 2000 proposals. "We will update that over the next few months ready for the European, local and Scottish and Welsh elections next year."