Lidington: The use of vaccination to control Foot and Mouth

"The Government should plan now to use emergency vaccination to help control and stamp out any future epidemic of Foot and Mouth Disease.

"The recent Royal Society report has shifted the balance of argument decisively in favour of using emergency vaccination as an integral part of this country's contingency planning. Britain should learn from last year's devastating and costly epidemic and from the experience of other countries.

"We should plan on the assumption that vaccinated animals would enter the food chain. British consumers already eat meat and meat products from vaccinated beasts and poultry.

"This change in policy would require the Government to set up a vaccine bank and establish systems to ensure the surveillance of vaccinated livestock. That is all the more reason for work to start as soon as possible.

"Mr Blair has refused to hold a proper public inquiry. I hope that the Anderson report, due to be published tomorrow, will explain in detail how the Government handled the epidemic. It is profoundly unsatisfactory that Ministers and officials only gave evidence in secret.

"The thousands of people whose livelihoods were put at risk by the epidemic will want an explanation of the Government's actions.

"Why was contingency planning so inadequate?

"Why the delay in calling in the army?

"Why was the decision made, and by whom, to persist with the contiguous cull rather than follow the Dutch example of emergency vaccination?

"Did political motives and concern over the General Election date influence ministerial decisions?"