22 September 1995

MPs complain to ombudsman

MPs are to make a fresh complaint to the parliamentary ombudsman over MAFFs advice to farmers on the safe use of organophosphorus sheep dips.

Liberal Democrat MP Paul Tyler, convener of an all-party OP group, told a packed north Devon meeting that the group would make its submission in the next few weeks.

He said the MPs wanted to see if a case of maladministration could be proved on the basis of inadequate advice given to farmers and their GPs. The group had more than 100 cases of farmers who were believed to have been wrongly advised. It was also aware that protective clothing advice had changed.

The Health and Safety Executive now advised farmers to wear "space helmets" when dipping to avoid inhaling vapour, he said. A few months ago the ministry and the HSE advised that this was not necessary.

Mr Tyler said the ministry had to live up to its responsibilities. It did not just approve the use of OP chemicals, it effectively forced farmers to use them.

"The compulsory dipping scheme effectively made certain that farmers and farm workers all over the country were exposed to a very dangerous chemical without adequate advice on the handling of that chemical. Therefore there can be no question that they are responsible for what has happened," said Mr Tyler.