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Date 18 Nov 2004
PAICE CHALLENGES MINISTER OVER MISLEADING PARLIAMENT
Jim Paice, Shadow Secretary of State for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, today challenged junior minister Ben Bradshaw to apologise for misleading statements over the Burnside Farm video and to say when ministers first knew of the video.
Last week Ben Bradshaw told Mr Paice that DEFRA first obtained copies of the video after 30th September this year having previously clearly inferred in Parliament that no Minister had seen the video. Now Lord Whitty has told
Baroness Byford, Conservative spokesman in the Lords, that not only did he see part of the video at the time of Bobby Waugh’s trial but that DEFRA had copies in February 2003.
In a point of order after DEFRA questions Jim called on Ben Bradshaw, “to now tell us why Ministers disagree, explain what looks increasingly like a cover-up and to apologise for no doubt inadvertently misleading the House.” Mr Bradshaw refused to apologise and made no effort to address Jim’s concerns.
Speaking later Jim Paice said: “Every week brings more evidence of chaos at DEFRA over Foot and Mouth. Now Ministers are arguing amongst themselves and misleading Parliament. Bradshaw repeatedly says that the outbreak started at Burnside Farm; the question he makes no attempt to answer is ‘How did it get there?’
“I have also asked Bradshaw when Ministers first knew about the video. As he has not answered today that question dies with the end of this parliamentary session when it should have been answered on Monday. This is more evidence that Ministers do not want us to know the truth. This refusal by Ministers to accept any responsibility to explain themselves or want to know how the disease got to Burnside Farm brings us ever closer to the need for a further Inquiry.”
Notes to Editors
The point of order raised by Jim:
“In the last oral questions to DEFRA on 21st October the junior minister the HM for Exeter said – in reference to the video of Burnside Farm - I quote: ‘I have not seen the video’. Later he did not refute my assertion that no minister had seen it.
On 9th November in a written question I asked him when DEFRA first obtained a copy of the video to which he answered: ‘DEFRA recently obtained copies of the video when it was referred to in correspondence received on 30th September’.
I raise this because yesterday the Lord Whitty, another DEFRA minister wrote to my noble friend the
Baroness Byfordand made statements which contradict the HM.
First – I quote – ‘I confirm that I saw part of the video at the time of Mr Waugh’s trial’.
Second, ‘The first record DEFRA has of receiving a copy of the video is at the beginning of February 2003’.
Mr Speaker. Both ministers cannot be right. Would it be in order for the Minister to now tell us why Ministers disagree, explain what looks increasingly like a cover-up and to apologise for no doubt inadvertently misleading the House.”
For further information, please contact Tara Hamilton-Miller on 0207 984 8092