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17 Oct 2007 : Column 894

I realise that we are running out of time, but it is worth reminding the House that the bill for foot and mouth so far is £250 million. The single farm payment fine was £305 million. Bovine tuberculosis has cost £100 million. So far, that is £650 million of incompetence. Apparently, it costs about £240 million to build a 400-bed general hospital. We could have had nearly three hospitals if DEFRA had been competent.

The Department has failed to offer protection in the areas for which it is responsible. DEFRA has failed the people who trusted it and it has failed the test of competence.

4.28 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Jonathan Shaw): This has been an important debate for our agricultural industry and our farming communities. It follows the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 8 October, when he brought the House up to date with what had been happening over the summer in terms of foot and mouth and bluetongue.

During that period, we worked closely with farmers and their leaders. We are grateful for their co-operation. We are acutely aware of the pressures they face from the FMD and bluetongue outbreaks, which happened, as many Members said, at one of the worst possible times for livestock farmers. We shall maintain that close working relationship. As my right hon. Friend said, we shall organise a meeting for Members next week to discuss bluetongue and answer questions.

Members made many points about FMD, with particular reference to Pirbright. Questions were put about the drains and the letter we received on 20 July. Did that letter say that the drains were damaged or in a poor state of repair? No, it did not. Was the work of the inspectors criticised in any of the reports? No, it was not. Was the age of the drains in any way connected with their possibly being damaged? No, it was not. Were we asked to fund new drains, because of damage? No, we were not—not at all. Did Spratt or the HSE comment on the work of the inspectors? Did they say that the inspectors’ work was incompetent?

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: Will the Minister give way?

Jonathan Shaw: No, I will not give way; I have not got sufficient time. [ Interruption. ] I am not frit; I have got a lot of issues to get through.

We are putting in funding; we have given £31 million. If there was a priority and the people at Pirbright knew about it, they would have used part of that money to ensure that the drains were repaired. We gave them those resources. I was asked by the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Malins) whether we would continue to fund that investment at Pirbright, and I can assure him and the House that we will continue to consider that investment.

On handling, three times a day, we had “bird tables”, to which some hon. Members came along and saw DEFRA and all our partners—from industry representatives to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals—working hard together for the farming community. We held regular meetings with the
17 Oct 2007 : Column 895
industry. There was good dialogue with the devolved Administrations. We made every attempt to inform Members of Parliament.

The hon. Member for South-East Cambridgeshire (Mr. Paice) mentioned animals being shot from helicopters. If he will provide us with that information, we will be very interested to see it, because my officials can find no information to that effect.

On footpaths, we followed the science at every stage in the decisions that we took, and our contingency arrangements have been agreed since the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak. We learned those lessons; we have the contingency arrangements, which are not just written by DEFRA, but consulted on every year and laid before the House. All the industry and its representative groups play a part in being involved in drawing up those contingency arrangements, which we follow. People were concerned about footpaths, but we followed the science. I attended public meetings in Surrey; we listened to the concerns of the local community, and we closed those footpaths.

The hon. Member for Leominster (Bill Wiggin) asked what we are doing to develop a bluetongue vaccine. We have been discussing that with other European member states that have the disease, and we will work in partnership with them and the Commission to find a vaccine for it.

Hon. Members have made many points, and I will try to crack through as many of them as I can. The right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) asked when hill farm payments would be made. We said that payments are scheduled to start in early November and will be subject to EU state procedures, but we want to get those payments to hill farmers as early as possible and hope to do so in November.

My hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Goole (Mr. Cawsey) said that he supported the swift action taken by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State—action that was endorsed by the British Veterinary Association. He spoke about animal welfare and the high welfare standards of the pig industry in his constituency. We will maintain our dialogue with the pig industry and work with it to find solutions.

The right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (David Maclean) put his 12 charges to the Government. He said that it was all down to DEFRA all the time, but we have had our contingency arrangements since 2001, and they were drawn up after the involvement of industry and partners right across the sector.

My hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale (Geraldine Smith) referred to Mr. Birkett, a farmer, and the Lancashire NFU. She asked for single farm payments to be made as quickly as possible. I am sure that she will appreciate the difficulties that the Rural Payments Agency has had. We want it to ensure a smooth operation and we do not want to expose it to anything that will jeopardise its full recovery, but we will get those payments to farmers as soon as we possibly can.

The hon. Member for Woking spoke about the Institute for Animal Health, Merial and his constituents. We had many conversations throughout early August. He has made his criticisms—I have heard them—but I would like to commend him on the work that he did in representing his constituents.

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The hon. Member for Clwyd, West (Mr. Jones) spoke with passion on behalf of his constituents and about the difficulties that farmers are facing. We need to restore the markets so that prices increase.

The hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) talked about hill farmers, and I have said that we want payments to get to them as soon as possible. He also mentioned bluetongue—we need to put suitable arrangements in place. We have our contingency plans and we are working with other member states to ensure that we can find a solution and a vaccine. We have spoken to supermarkets and hope that they will listen to our comments, as well as to his remarks and those of all other hon. Members—

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire) (Con) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the original words stand part of the Question:——

The House divided: Ayes 232, Noes 280.
Division No. 211]
[4.36 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brokenshire, James
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Cameron, rh Mr. David
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Conway, Derek
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duddridge, James
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hague, rh Mr. William

Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holmes, Paul
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Johnson, Mr. Boris
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McCrea, Dr. William
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moore, Mr. Michael
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rogerson, Dan
Rowen, Paul
Ruffley, Mr. David
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, David
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wilson, Mr. Rob

Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wishart, Pete
Wright, Jeremy
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Crispin Blunt and
Mr. Richard Benyon

Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Drew, Mr. David
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric

Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McKechin, Ann
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
Olner, Mr. Bill
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Purnell, rh James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire

Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Frank Roy and
Steve McCabe
Question accordingly negatived.
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17 Oct 2007 : Column 900

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

Mr. Deputy Speaker declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.


Dr. Liam Fox (Woodspring) (Con) rose—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): Order. Would Members who are leaving please do so quietly?

Dr. Fox: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether you can give me some guidance. Yesterday, during the defence debate, as reported in columns 719-20 of Hansard, I raised the issue of the bonuses being paid to members of the armed forces who are deployed from Iraq to Kuwait or other parts of the Gulf, and I suggested that they would lose money as a consequence, to which the Secretary of State said that that “is not true”—his words in Hansard.

I understand that it is true that the bonus is not paid to anyone in Kuwait and that it will not be paid on all operations in support of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is clear that, intentionally or otherwise, the House has not been given the correct information. Will you ask Mr. Speaker to look at Hansard, in view of the facts that are available in the House of Commons Library and which have been given to Members in letters from Ministers, to see whether that might be redressed at the earliest possible opportunity?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I understand the point of order that the hon. Gentleman seeks to make. He will be aware that Mr. Speaker always follows the proceedings in Hansard very closely. Those on the Front Bench will have heard the comments made by the hon. Gentleman in his point of order, and I am sure that he will, if necessary, find other ways of making the point that he had just made.

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