PM backs Cunningham over beef on the bone
PRIME MINISTER Tony Blair insisted the Government was right to maintain the ban on beef on the bone, despite a decision by a sheriff to throw out the prosecution of a Scottish hotelier.
During a heated exchange in the Commons, Tory Opposition leader William Hague argued that the ban was ridiculous and harangued agriculture minister Dr Jack Cunningham.
Mr Blair told the Commons that the ban, introduced on the advice of Sir Kenneth Calman, the Chief Medical Officer, must stay until there was evidence that the BSE threat was receding.
But Mr Hague said Britain was a free country and people should be able to chose for themselves whether they eat beef off the bone. He accused Mr Blair and Dr Cunningham of hiding behind Sir Kenneth.
Mr Hagues attack became more personal as the debate went on, saying the Prime Minister had left the bar for politics, But that Dr Cunningham “sometimes left politics for the bar”.
On Tuesday, Sheriff James Paterson, sitting at Selkirk Court, Scotland, dismissed charges of flouting the ban against hotelier Jim Sutherland, the first person in Britain to face such a prosecution. The case was brought after Mr Sutherland held a farmers dinner at the Lodge, Carfraemill, near Lauder in the Borders five days after the ban was imposed last December.
The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tom Butler, who will become Bishop of Southwark later this year, has also entered the debate, calling on Government to end the ban.
- Court throws out beef-on-bone prosecution, FWi, yesterday (22 April) Click here
- The Scotsman 23/04/98 page 6
- The Guardian 23/04/98 page 12
- The Daily Telegraph 23/04/98 page 9
- Financial Times 23/04/98 page 17
- The Times 23/04/98 page 8, page 23 (Leader)