01 May 1998
Cunningham dismisses Tory attack over farm crisis
By Trevor Mason, Press Association
JACK Cunningham, agriculture minister, yesterday shrugged off a Tory charge
that the Government had sparked the “biggest agricultural crisis” for decades.
At Commons question time, Dr Cunningham hit back, claiming the biggest crisis was BSE, “bequeathed to this Government and the country” by the Conservative Party.
James Paice, for the Opposition, protested that in the 12 months since Dr Cunningham took office, the price of nearly every agricultural product had fallen.
“Beef down 10%, sheep 34%, milk about 20%, wheat 21% – with next week a threatened further 2.5% revaluation of the Green Pound, which will cost the industry another £70 million or £80 million.”
He asked: “How much of that has been of real benefit to the consumer and will you admit to this House that your first 12 months of stewardship of the industry has led to the biggest agricultural crisis for decades?”
Dr Cunningham retorted: “I am overwhelmed by your prognosis for the future but underwhelmed by your inaccuracy in respect of what has happened.
“The biggest crisis to hit agriculture this century… was the BSE crisis, bequeathed to this Government and the country by you and your colleagues.”