10 July 1998

Tory rural watchdog

SHADOW farm minister Michael Jack launched a watchdog committee to study the impact of policies on the countryside and rural affairs on Tuesday.

The committee, chaired by Mr Jack and formmer farm minister Gillian Shepherd, will study government and local government potentially harmful rural activities.

"The Conservative Party has now broken new ground by putting rural affairs at the heart of the partys decision making process. Now we need to ensure that the impact of new policy on people who live and work in rural Britain is fully taken into account," he 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 needs to make a similar commitment to the needs of the countryside and stop dithering over producing a rural white paper."

The committee, headed by Mr Jack and former farm minister Gillian Shephard, will involve interested parties in discussions.