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Food (Radioactivity)

Volume 124: debated on Thursday 17 December 1987

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will review the arrangements for protecting the population from food contaminated with radioactivity after a nuclear accident; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
(Mr. John Selwyn Gummer)

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, North (Sir T. Skeet) on 30 June, new national plans for dealing with the consequences of any future nuclear accident have been drawn up. My departmental responsibilities have been covered in those plans.

In relation to those new plans, what has the Minister to say about the 39 farms in Scotland which were brought into monitoring in August of this year, but which had not been subject to restrictions for the 16 months after the Chernobyl disaster? [HON. MEMBERS: "Reading."] The reason why I raise this matter is that that news stunned me, and I would hope that it would stun Conservative Members.

I believe that it is perfectly right that we should continue the monitoring. There will be occasions when the monitoring produces examples for which extra restrictions must be provided, but those restrictions are made extremely carefully. They are designed to ensure that the safety limits are high, and we are doing our best to make sure that there is no damage to public health. The public can be wholly reassured by the measures that we take.