11 May 2001
Tory pledges ‘beggar belief’ – LibDems

By FWi staff

TORY promises to address the problems of red tape in farming “beggar belief”, according to the Liberal Democrats.

Colin Breed, shadow farm minister for the LibDems, has ridiculed the Conservative manifesto pledge, claiming it is ludicrous given their record in government.

In its general election manifesto released on Thursday (10 May), the Conservatives said farmers spent too much time form-filling.

“The next Conservative Government will not enforce European regulations any sooner or more zealously than other countries,” it promised.

But Mr Breed said the pledge to address the regulatory burden on the industry was the latest piece of Tory hypocrisy.

“This is the party which gold-plated regulations on the meat hygiene service, so much that the country lost hundred of abattoirs,” he said.

When the Conservatives came to power in 1979, there were approximately 975 red-meat abattoirs in the country. By 1996 this figure had dropped to 384.

“Such was the Tory aptitude for generating red tape that farmers now spend the equivalent of five weeks a year filling in forms,” said Mr Breed.

If William Hague thinks farmers will suddenly believe that the problems in the industry started in 1997, then he has seriously underestimated them, he added.

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