Labour Government Defeated over Foot and Mouth Report


The European Parliament today issued a stinging rebuke against the British Labour Government's handling of the foot and mouth outbreak in the United Kingdom.

 

The report on the outbreak, passed by a majority of 449 MEPs, was supported by all parties and countries across the Union other than British Labour MEPs whose vote went against it.  Despite last minute attempts to remove all criticism of the government, amendments which were soundly rejected by the parliament, Labour MEPs could not join the rest of Europe in supporting its own year-long inquiry into the foot and mouth outbreak.

 

Neil Parish MEP, Conservative Agriculture Spokesman in the European Parliament, said:

 

"This government is incapable of facing up to its responsibilities.  By voting against this report, Labour MEPs have sent a clear message to all those recovering from the outbreak that it doesn't care and it has no intention of listening.  The government has learnt nothing - having taken evidence for a whole year and having travelled the country to hear passionate cries for help, it beggars belief that it can ignore those millions affected by voting against the report.

 

It just goes to show that Labour is isolated, arrogant and it still doesn't care.  This report, supported by Socialists from across the EU, shames the government an d stands as a lasting testimony to its catastrophic handling of the crisis."

 

ENDS


Note to Editors: Among the report's findings, the report says:  "it is doubtful whether the contiguous cull strategy was really responsible for curbing the epidemic"; "bureaucratic and formalistic procedures…delays in decision-making and carrying out measures by the authorities, particularly in connection with the disposal of animal carcasses, the lack of effective contingency plans, inadequately informed veterinary staff. Staff shortages at the locally established disease control units, and violations of animal welfare legislation during culls...These shortcomings and the sometimes inadequate information policy caused considerable stress among those concerned... In individual cases, it was reported that farmers who were affected had been intimidated and pressurised in connection with the culls".

 

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European Parliament Supports Case for Foot and Mouth Compensation

 

 

The European Parliament's inquiry into the foot and mouth outbreak, whose report was voted on today, supports claims for wider compensation after identifying a tragic list of government failures in handling the crisis.

 

 The report, which levels stinging criticism at the UK Government, says

 

"It is unacceptable that only farmers - in whose interest the non-vaccination policy is being pursued - should receive compensation under Decision 90/424/EEC for livestock lost in an FMD outbreak while other farmers and those in other sectors of the economy - particularly tourism and sport - are compelled to foot the bill for their own losses arising from this policy. The rules on compensation need to be reviewed in the light of this."

 

 The Parliaments support for compensation will add weight to those campaigning on behalf of agricultural and tourism business which are still, in some cases, suffering from the effects of the outbreak. The report recognises that the effects of the outbreak were felt hardest by areas which are denied compensation by the current scheme.

 

Among the Committee's other findings, the report says:

 

"it is doubtful whether the contiguous cull strategy was really responsible for curbing the epidemic";

 

"bureaucratic and formalistic procedures…delays in decision-making and carrying out measures by the authorities, particularly in connection with the disposal of animal carcasses, the lack of effective contingency plans, inadequately informed veterinary staff.  Staff shortages at the locally established disease control units, and violations of animal welfare legislation during culls...These shortcomings and the sometimes inadequate information policy caused considerable stress among those concerned... In individual cases, it was reported that farmers who were affected had been intimidated and pressurised in connection with the culls".

 

Neil Parish MEP Agriculture spokesman said:

 

"Our rural economy was devastated and this report says so.  It shames the Government and though compensation will be little to many whose lives were destroyed by their handling of the crisis it will at least go some way to recognising their plight.

 

The report, coupled with today's vote, sends out a clear message - that the government's handling of the outbreak was a shambles. They got it wrong and our farmers have had to pay the price for its failure.

 

The report confirms what we and the farming community have known since the outbreak - that this Labour Government is supremely arrogant, inefficient and needlessly made a bad situation much, much, worse."

 

 

Office of Neil Parish MEP

Conservative Agriculture and Fisheries Spokesman in the European Parliament