2 January 1998

Not alright – Jack…

THE timing of the BSE inquiry is wrong and could hamper efforts to lift the beef ban, according to Shadow farm minister Michael Jack.

He claimed that had the government initiated the inquiry in June last year, it could have provided conclusions to member states within its term of EU presidency. That would have allowed British farmers interests to be put more forcefully, he said.

"As it is, this timing hands an open goal to any EU member states who would rather see a delay to the lifting of the beef ban. These states could now argue that the beef ban should be delayed until the inquiry has been completed."

Despite his concern, Mr Jack said that the Conservative Partys would offer its full co-operation during the inquiry. And he expected a number of former farm ministers, including Gillian Shepherd, John Gummer and Douglas Hogg, to be consulted.