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Today's Cumberland News - Letters Page:

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ISN'T IT ironic that our farmers could be asked to give evidence at a European enquiry into foot and mouth?

Our Government constantly refuses a national public enquiry, yet Brussels is anxious to learn all they can from devastation suffered by so many here in the UK.

It is now more than 10 months since Cumbria experienced its first case of foot and mouth, which affected more than 3,000 farms, resulting in the slaughter of more than 1.2 million animals, at a cost to the British taxpayer of billions of pounds.

The European parliament is doing what our Government should be doing by examining the cause and consequences of the outbreak and hopefully learning vital information on how to handle any future outbreaks in a more efficient way than we did.

Lord Inglewood's calls for a public enquiry are certainly justified, as the devastation caused must be fully explained.

To date, three separate enquiries have been set up by the Government, although these carry no requirement to be held in public.

This poses the question: Why not in public?

Has our Government something to hide or are they just too ashamed at the way they failed to efficiently deal with the outbreak?

Why should Devon and Northumbria hold their own public enquiry, when other regions and our national economy suffered? For some bizarre reason money can be available for certain issues but obviously not for an issue which is effectively a national disaster.

Tony and his cronies need to come clean and do the honourable thing, which is order a public enquiry and face up to the facts.

They know they handled it badly, but there are more important factors which need to be brought out into the open so that everyone can learn from this huge catastrophe.

MICHAEL J ROBSON,

Warnell Drive, Carlisle

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A PUBLIC enquiry into the foot and mouth plague is necessary for all the obvious reasons but, mostly, to send a message to the present Government that its high-handed arrogance is not to be tolerated.

Much as I hate the American system, their leaders can be called to account for incompetence, even forced out of office, as Richard Nixon was.

Why do we not have more open accessible justice? Because for centuries our leaders have regarded themselves as our betters and have never felt obligated to be answerable to us lowly peasants.

The Tories' secrecy and obfuscation over the BSE fiasco was one of the issues that got them thrown out of office for a generation; it seems the present lot have not learned that lesson, or don't care, or think it will go away in time, or as long as Labour hold Sedgefield at the next election, the rest of the uttermost North can go hang itself.

We Cumbrians are famous for our apathy, our dour acceptance, our forelock-tugging to the gentry and our lack of political commitment, which is why we have no industry but Sellafield, and farming practices which are an ecological disaster.

This Cumbrian is angry and hostile and wishes to put on record that Citizen Beckett's whitewash from the Committee of Public Safety is not acceptable and will not be believed.

ARTHUR WALBY, Hesket Newmarket

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