22 June 2001
Tories renew calls for public inquiry

By FWi staff

RENEWED calls for a public inquiry into the foot-and-mouth crisis have been voiced by Conservative agriculture spokesman Tim Yeo.

Addressing the Commons on Thursday (21 June), Mr Yeo, repeated earlier demands by Tory leader William Hague, reports The Daily Telegraph.

“The scale of this epidemic makes it essential that a full public inquiry is held to establish how the disease reached Britain, why the government acted so slowly and … often incompetently,” he said.

Lib Dem agriculture spokesman Colin Breed said he hoped the government inquiry would be as independent and thorough as Lord Phillips BSE inquiry.

But Margaret Beckett, head of the new Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, stopped short of promising a public inquiry.

Earlier this week junior agriculture minister Lord Whitty said there would be no repetition of the BSE inquiry which lasted two years and cost 2.7m.

“We need to learn lessons quickly,” he explained.

Lord Whitty said it was up to the Prime Minister to decide whether the investigation will take the form of a public inquiry.

On Thursday Mrs Beckett announced a relaxation in virus restrictions to allow farmers in Infected Areas to send livestock to abattoirs further afield.

Livestock in Infected Areas can move, under licence, for slaughter in abattoirs outside the area in a move to enable more normal trade, she said.

Mrs Beckett also announced moves to ease controls on the movement of cattle and pigs for welfare reasons.

Cattle and pigs in At Risk Areas will be permitted to move, under licence, into Provisionally Free Areas, on welfare grounds.

Welfare movements of cattle and pigs from one Provisionally Free Area to another will also be permitted.

Meanwhile, DEFRA has expressed regret over an incident in slaughterman attempted to cull two escaped cows with a rifle “of inadequate calibre”.

Members of the public saw the attempt to kill the livestock at Niffany Farm, Skipton, West Yorkshire, with a rifle of which “barely penetrated the skin”.

DEFRA said the error was due to time pressure.

Four new cases of foot-and-mouth were reported on Thursday, including three outbreaks in North Yorkshire and one in Lancashire.

An outbreak in Cumbria was confirmed on Friday (22 June) morning taking the UK total to 1774.

  • The Daily Telegraph, 22 June 2001, page 16

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