05 August 1997
Minister pressed on OPs after MPs death

AGRICULTURE Minister Dr Jack Cunningham came under pressure today to speed up a decision on the future use of pesticides which may be linked to the suicide of Labour MP Gordon McMaster.

Keen gardener Mr McMaster, who was found dead last week, believed he was suffering from the chronic fatigue syndrome ME and that it might have been caused by organophosphates which he used as a pesticide.

Paisley South MP Mr McMaster was a supporter of the All-Party Group on Organophosphate (OP) pesticides.

Yesterday, group leader Paul Tyler wrote to Dr Cunningham calling for an urgent meeting on the future use of the chemicals.

Mr Tyler, Liberal Democrat MP for Cornwall North, told the Agriculture Minister: “I hope you will now agree that our meeting is all the more urgent, if only to ensure that our former colleagues commitment to help the victims of OP poisoning is carried on.”

In a statement, Mr Tyler said: “Every day that Dr Cunninghams decision is delayed increases the misery for hundreds of OP victims and increases the potential cost of compensation.

“Since both sheep farmers and Gulf War troops were forced to use these lethal products by Government instructions, the cost to the taxpayer – not just the manufacturers – could run into many millions of pounds.”

Stephen Alderman, PA News