MPs stay away from BSE debate

15 February 2001

MPs stay away from BSE debate

By Isabel Davies

ONLY a smattering of MPs have turned up to a long-awaited parliamentary debate on government plans to make sure there is no repeat of the BSE crisis.

The House of Commons was relatively empty as agriculture minister Nick Brown outlined his response to Lord Phillips report from the BSE Inquiry.

It was in sharp contrast to a packed audience that heard health minister Alan Milburns unveil details of compensation payments for families of CJD victims.

In his opening statement, Mr Brown said the inquiry team had found “serious shortcomings” in the last Governments handling of the BSE crisis.

The report documented institutional and political failure up to the highest levels, he told the House on Thursday (15 February).

But the government was committed to greater openness in the future and had made real progress by encouraging liaison between government departments.

He added: “The whole approach and behaviour of departments and individuals will need to change to ensure that the lessons identified by the inquiry are properly absorbed and implemented.”

The minister acknowledged that the origin of BSE was unresolved.

He said the government had asked Professor Gabriel Horn to lead a group pulling together all the key scientific research on the origins of the disease.

The groups findings will be incorporated into the governments final response into the BSE crisis which is expected to be published later this year.