DR. CAROLINE LUCAS
Green Member of the European Parliament
for the South East of the UK
20th March 2002
Invitation to contribute evidence to European Parliament Committee of Inquiry into Foot and Mouth
I am writing to let you know that I shall be sitting on the European Parliament's new Committee of Inquiry into the Foot and Mouth crisis as one of its Vice-Presidents. The Committee was launched in January after MEPs voted by 390 to 155 in favour of the investigation.
Unlike its UK Government counterparts, the Inquiry will be held in public. The Committee, which started work last month, will look into the causes and effects of last year's Foot and Mouth outbreak in the UK and several other EU member states, and recommend action to ensure that a recurrence can be prevented. The 30 strong cross-party committee will look at every aspect of the crisis, including vaccination policy and controls on meat imports from outside the EU (see attached Terms of Reference). It is due to report in November.
I very much welcome the establishment of this Committee of Inquiry. It is vital that we learn the lessons of the past 12 months, and ensure that such a devastating outbreak and response never happen again. A key question must be why the response to this disease was allowed to shut down the countryside, downgrade vaccination in favour of massive slaughter of healthy animals, and cripple our rural economy.
You might be interested to know that hearings on the UK situation will be held in Brussels on 26 March (former Agriculture Minister Nick Brown and Chief Vet Jim Scudamore have already confirmed their attendance) and in Strasbourg on 8 April. Two visits to the UK are also being arranged by the Committee: to Scotland, Northumberland, and Cumbria between 18-20 April, and to Wales and the South West between 20-22 June.
Questions we will be putting to UK officials include:
7 Did the epidemic start earlier than the government indicated and, indeed, is the UK government in any way reliably able to indicate when the epidemic did start?
7 Would they agree that the UK animal disease surveillance system was ineffective and poorly resourced?
7 Why, in March, did the government hand over control of the epidemic to the computer team led by Professor Roy Anderson of Imperial College, an epidemiologist who had no expertise in the management or control of foot and mouth?
7 Why, when the epidemic met all the criteria for an emergency vaccination programme laid out in EC directive 90/423, did the government not adopt such a programme, ignoring the advice of an array of international experts?
7 Why were farmers so consistently misinformed over both the science and law on vaccination? Why were they falsely allowed to believe that vaccinated animals would have to be slaughtered, or that they would lose financially if animals were vaccinated, when there is specific EU provision to compensate them for such losses?
I very much welcome any input you may have into this important Inquiry. You can contact me at the address below, or by email - firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can send evidence direct to Mme Redondo MEP, President of the Foot and Mouth Inquiry, European Parliament, Rue Wiertz, B-1047 Brussels, or email:
DG2-FIAP Correspondence@europarl.eu.int (please note the space is deliberate)
With best wishes
Caroline Lucas MEP
Green MEP for South East England
European Parliament, Office 8G103, rue Wiertz, B-1047 Brussels, BELGIUM
Tel: +32 2 2845153 Fax: +32 2 2849153 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.carolinelucasmeps.org.uk