08 July 1998
Tory country committee to keep an eye on Government

By Catherine Hughes

TORY shadow farm minister Michael Jack launched a sub-committee of Tory ministers to measure the impact of all Government policies on countryside and rural affairs.

The new sub-committee, launched at the Royal yesterday (Tuesday), will be headed by Mr Jack and former farm minister Gillian Shephard.

“It will act as a permanent watchdog for policies of both government and local authorities which are harmful to the countryside,” Mr Jack said.

“We need to look back at our rural White Paper produced in 1995 and find out exactly where we went wrong for rural people,” he added. “Labour need to make a similar commitment to the needs of the countryside and stop dithering over producing a rural white paper.”

Meanwhile, Tony Blair, prime minister, confirmed in an answer to a question from James Gray (Con, Wiltshire North) in the House of Commons on Monday that consideration was being given as to whether he should set up a ministry of rural affairs as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review. The review is expected to report next week.