To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the hygiene standards of British food resulting from the Food Safety Bill and those of food from other European Community countries.
The Food Safety Bill is a joint initiative between my Department and the Department of Health.Once the Bill and various subsidiary regulations are in place, we will have a comprehensive and flexible framework in controls, equal to the very best in the world.
My hon. Friend and the whole House will be aware that the Food Safety Bill creates a framework for a mass of secondary legislation in the form of regulations on food safety. Will my hon. Friend assure the House that he will consult widely and thoroughly on all the regulations before they and the Bill become law to ensure that British food continues to be as safe and wholesome as any in the world?
As my hon. Friend knows, the Bill allows us to consult on a wide variety of regulations and I can give the House the assurance that he seeks. We will consult widely on the regulations that will be required as the Bill becomes law. We shall conduct those negotiations and consultations during the summer. I thank the hon. Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) for his kind comments about the Bill in an article in the Financial Times last week.
If food hygiene standards in Britain are as high as the Minister says, why has food poisoning increased fivefold since the Government took office?
It is strange for the hon. Gentleman suddenly to attribute food poisoning to the Government taking office. That is quite bogus and the correlation cannot be made. The hon. Gentleman knows that that is so.