03 July 1998
Prosecutions against beef-on-bone sellers to go ahead

TRADERS who continue to breach the beef-on-the-bone ban will be prosecuted, Jeff Rooker, junior agriculture minister, told the Commons yesterday (Thursday).

This was despite hopes the ban could be lifted by March next year.

Conservative agriculture spokesman Michael Jack called on Mr Rooker to stop pursuing the meat trade.

But Mr Rooker replied: “The law is the law and the law will take its course, and I am not prepared to comment on cases that are coming before the courts. We are not the prosecuting authority. We are not pursuing anybody.”

Dr Jack Cunningham, minister for agriculture, came under attack when conservative agriculture spokesman James Paice told him to stop blaming BSE for the crisis in farming. He said the collapse of milk, sheep and grain prices had nothing to do with BSE.

Paice disputed Government claims that only half of all farmers had borrowings. He claimed it was nearer 70-90%.

Conservative MP John Bercow said the real cause of farmers misery was the strength of Sterling. Cunningham agreed it had caused problems but blamed the former administration for this.

  • The Independent 03/07/98 page 8