03 June 1999
Scots Tories bid to end beef-bone ban

SCOTTISH Conservative rural affairs spokesman Alex Johnstone has tabled a motion in the Scottish parliament which, if passed, could lead to the beef-on-the-bone ban being lifted throughout the UK.

But his motion is one of three on the subject and the Presiding Officer, Sir David Steel, will rule on which one best suits the need of the parliament and whether or not it should be debated.

There is no timescale for such a decision and any debate is unlikely until after the summer recess.

Mr Johnstones motion calls for a resumption of beef-on-the-bone sales in Scotland by adopting the SEAC (governments BSE advisory committee) option of making research findings public, along with a risk assessment, and allowing consumers to choose what precautions to take.

The motion further suggests that Scottish ministers should enter discussions with their counterparts in Westminster and Cardiff with a view to adopting a similar approach throughout the UK, thus ensuring a single market in the sale of beef.

“I believe this motion tackles the beef-on-the-bone issue head on,” said Mr Johnstone.

“It acknowledges that there is a public health issue as well as one of confidence in the quality and safety of Scottish beef. It also points the way to a UK deal, avoiding the pitfalls of a Scotland-only solution.”

That is the thrust of a motion tabled by SNP leader Alex Salmond. He wants the ban lifted in Scotland and the necessary arrangements put in place as soon as Scottish ministers assume their full powers on 1 July.

An amendment to the SNP motion, from Liberal Democrat George Lyon, asks for the ban to be lifted when latest medical advice indicates that it would be safe to do so.

That is a reversal of the former Lib-Dem stance on the issue and now follows the government line.