Skip to main content

Emergency Orders

Volume 172: debated on Thursday 17 May 1990

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received concerning the incurring of non-recoverable losses by farmers due to the implementation of emergency orders.

I have received representations from a number of sources—including, both directly and indirectly, the National Farmers Union, the Country Landowners Association and food industry interests.

I accept the need for emergency Government powers, where appropriate, to protect food safety, but will my hon. Friend confirm that many of the farmers covered by these powers were found subsequently not to be affected by contamination and were unable to recover their losses? Will my hon. Friend look carefully, sympathetically and urgently at introducing legislation to try to rectify that problem?

We always look carefully at the effects of any of the orders or decisions that we take. If my hon. Friend is referring to the recent problem of lead in feed in the west country, he will be aware that the Government's first priority is to protect public health. We had to act on information received from the feed companies. The farmer's first recourse must be to the perpetrators of the incident—those who supplied them with the feed, and their suppliers. That is where the liability for error lies.

Does the Minister accept that his bumptious music hall turn performance at the Dispatch Box today is an insult to the public, who are seriously worried about food safety issues? Will he at last come to the Dispatch Box and speak for consumers instead of acting as a mouthpiece for the British food industry? Does he not understand that by talking so much rubbish in defence of vested interests, and by promoting the eating of rubbish, he is doing damage to the health of this country's population?

It was nice today during food questions to come across an example of one of the things that we have been facing this week—the nonsense that we have heard from Opposition spokesmen. The hon. Gentleman has demonstrated that he has been going around as has his hon. Friend the Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson), like a demented Private Fraser from "Dad's Army" saying, "We're all doomed." It is a doomsday scenario. That is the kind of rubbish and nonsense that we are hearing from Opposition Members. The hon. Gentleman is wrong, just as his hon. Friends have been wrong all week. I chair the consumer panel, I meet consumers who come into my office and I represent consumer interests.