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10.33 pm

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Ms Joyce Quin): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew) on initiating this debate, and I fully understand and appreciate the reasons that have prompted him to do so. I very much welcome his presence here tonight, as well as that of other Members with a deep interest in the issue, especially my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) and the Minister of State, Department of Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton). They represent different parts of Cumbria, but they are all deeply concerned about the consequences of foot and mouth disease not only for the farming community, but for the wider economy of Cumbria.

I am pleased that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is also here. That is particularly appropriate given his work on the rural taskforce that will be responsible for dealing with many of the issues that my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle has raised.

I thank my hon. Friend for his work in facilitating my visit to Cumbria last weekend. That was very much appreciated. The meeting that he organised with farmers' representatives was particularly valuable in providing me with many telling examples of some of the problems that have been experienced in the area.

I was amused--and sorry--that one media report of my visit alleged that I had met everyone but farmers. That is simply not true. I do not know whether the reporter concerned does not understand that National Farmers

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Union officials are also farmers or simply overlooked the fact that, later in the day in Keswick, I met different types of farmers, including different types of livestock farmers. However, the visit was informative for what the farmers told me.

I am glad that the visit was followed by the visit of the chief veterinary officer, Jim Scudamore, who met several farming representatives and took a great personal interest in some of the veterinary and management issues that were raised with him and that had been raised with me the day before.

There is no doubt that Cumbria is, by a long way, the area most affected by the foot and mouth outbreak. My hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Brown) is present, and it is true that a wider area in the south of Scotland, including Dumfries and Galloway, has also been badly affected. We know how some cases of the disease were transmitted and affected Cumbria particularly severely. My hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle referred to the original outbreak at Heddon-on-the-Wall--it still seems to be the original outbreak--and it is alarming that the lesions on the animals there suggested that the disease had been around for some time. Given the fact that it had been transmitted to the neighbouring sheep population and given the movement of sheep around the country, the extent of the problem became clear after a few days.

The trade at livestock markets--in particular, that at Longtown--enabled the disease to be carried around the country. Although it was carried around the country, most of the sheep that went through Longtown market stayed in the Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway area. That is clear from the number of outbreaks that have occurred there. We must consider a whole range of issues--including those relating to the movement of animals and how the disease is transmitted--to learn the lessons properly.

It is particularly tragic that the disease has become so embedded in the sheep population. Cumbria contains many sheep, but the way in which sheep are affected makes it difficult sometimes to recognise that they have the disease. They may carry the disease and infect other livestock, particularly cattle, and that adds to the huge problems that are now being experienced.

My hon. Friend referred to the measures that are being introduced in Cumbria to tackle the disease. I appreciate his comments about the proposals for the wider cull. I understand the distress in Cumbria. My right hon. Friend the Minister apologised fully for the initial misunderstanding about the scope of the extended cull. Given the tremendous problems in tackling clear examples of disease, the talk of an extended cull alarmed Cumbrian farmers. None the less, I agree with my hon. Friend that there seems to be greater understanding on both sides of the border of the veterinary reasons why the chief vet recommended the wider cull.

Although the animals are often referred to as healthy, "apparently healthy" would be a better description. They are dangerous contacts and may well incubate and carry foot and mouth. We are keen to avoid thinking that we have got on top of the disease only for it suddenly to break out again more virulently and over a much wider area because of the movement of infected sheep. Farmers increasingly recognise the need to avoid that. Such an outbreak would be appalling news for Cumbria and bad news for our livestock industry. On the advice of the chief vet, we believe that the measures are necessary.

21 Mar 2001 : Column 453

The number of animals for which slaughter has been authorised in Cumbria is about 165,000. The number that has been confirmed slaughtered is 118,000. Some 46,000 are awaiting slaughter and 26,000 are awaiting destruction. I was concerned about the delays that were cited to me. Some of the changes reflect our determination to ensure that the targets for dealing with cases from confirmation to slaughter and from slaughter to disposal are fully complied with. The vital target is to ensure that the time between confirmation of the disease and slaughter is as short as possible. We must act on that most speedily. Obviously, the time from slaughter to disposal should also be as short as possible, but in disease-risk terms, it is less important than the first target.

There are different forms of disposal of animals, including burial. My right hon. Friend mentioned the difficulties in Cumbria because of the shallow soil and complications with the water table. None the less, we are not against burial if it can be safely carried out in accordance with good environmental standards. There is also the landfill option. My hon. Friend did not mention that, but he knows that we are pursuing it. However, I noted the concerns about one of the sites that was mentioned by the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean) in the earlier debate. Again, everyone has to be content that the landfill site is appropriate and does not present risks. Rendering and incineration are other forms of disposal.

During the longer debate that preceded this one, hon. Members asked about slaughtering on suspicion. That happens in the vast majority of cases. They asked also why a qualified vet should have to telephone head office before slaughter is ordered. Concerns were expressed, not by my hon. Friend but by others, that that could slow down the procedure, but it speeds it up by triggering the next stages of valuation and disposal. Often, it is extremely useful for the vet at head office to discuss with

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the vet in the field the details of the case, its likely connection to others and so on. That is an important link in the chain.

The use of the Army in Cumbria has been addressed. There is a command-and-control centre in Carlisle, as there is in Exeter. We are considering further support with the Ministry of Defence. The comments of my hon. Friend and the farmers in Cumbria whom I met showed a clear understanding of what the Army could and could not do, unlike comments that have been made about the use of the Army more generally.

The management changes that we are introducing in Cumbria will be important. The arrival of Jane Brown as director of operations is a helpful development. She is a very senior MAFF official, and she will co-ordinate the Army logistics and the disposal mechanisms, and work with existing staff and new staff who are being brought in. It is also important to highlight the work of Richard Drummond, the assistant chief veterinary officer, who will be responsible for veterinary operations in Cumbria and the north-east. I have known him since the beginning of the outbreak, when he was advising me on an earlier visit that I made to the Heddon-on-the-Wall area, and I know that his role will be useful.

My hon. Friend mentioned the wider issues. Jane Brown will participate in the Cumbria taskforce because we believe that the Ministry has a role in its work. When I was in Cumbria at the weekend, I was interested to hear about the setting up of the taskforce, and I endorse my hon. Friend's comments about Cumbria county council's role in the process--

The motion having been made after Ten o'clock, and the debate having continued for half an hour, Madam Deputy Speaker adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned at thirteen minutes to Eleven o'clock.

21 Mar 2001 : Column 453

21 Mar 2001 : Column 455

Deferred Divisions

Weights and Measures (S.I., 2001, No. 85)

The House divided: Ayes 182, Noes 263.

Division No. 162


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Jackie
Beggs, Roy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Bercow, John
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burstow, Paul
Butterfill, John
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Coleman, Iain
Collins, Tim
Connarty, Michael
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Day, Stephen
Donaldson, Jeffrey
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, Iain
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Fearn, Ronnie
Flight, Howard
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibb, Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Key, Robert
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lansley, Andrew
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Livsey, Richard
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
McCartney, Robert (N Down)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
McLoughlin, Patrick
McNamara, Kevin
Madel, Sir David
Maples, John
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Mates, Michael
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle
(B'ham Yardley)
Moss, Malcolm
Nicholls, Patrick
Norman, Archie
Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
St Aubyn, Nick
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Webb, Steve
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Young, Rt Hon Sir George


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Church, Ms Judith
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Colman, Tony
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Denham, Rt Hon John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Joyce, Eric
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kingham, Ms Tess
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Martlew, Eric
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morris, Rt Hon Sir John (Aberavon)
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Pearson, Ian
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Raynsford, Nick
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rogers, Allan
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Timms, Stephen
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Question accordingly negatived.

21 Mar 2001 : Column 458

European Security and Defence Policy

The House divided: Ayes 303, Noes 133.

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