17 December 1998
Hogg slams Tories over BSE crisis
By FWi staff
FORMER agriculture minister Douglas Hogg has accused John Major and other Tory former Cabinet colleagues of failing to take action that could have avoided the export ban on British beef.
Mr Hogg was agriculture minister at the height of the BSE crisis when the Government admitted in March 1996 the possibility that the disease could be passed to humans.
Mr Hogg told the BSE Inquiry yesterday that the Conservative Government had allowed itself to be driven by events like a “disorderly rabble”.
He said his colleagues had chosen to delay rather than follow his advice of an immediate ban on the sale and export of all beef and beef products from cattle over 30 months.
Mr Hogg said he considered resigning when his proposals were rejected but decided to abide by the principle of collective responsibility.
He had also recommended a public inquiry into BSE and had suggested that farmers be paid up to £500 million in compensation for cattle with the disease.
Mr Hogg told the inquiry that he wanted to go further than his scientific advisers were recommending but other members of the cabinet had vetoed his proposals.
He said other ministers had voiced concern that “disproportionate” measures could provoke legal action from damages from the beef industry.
A ban on 30-month-old beef was introduced a month after it had been rejected by the cabinet.