HC Deb 19 June 1968 vol 766 cc1101-2
50. Mr. Hastings

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects the Northumberland Committee to report.

Mr. John Mackie

My right hon. Friend hopes that the Committee will make an announcement about its plans very soon.

Mr. Hastings

What does "very soon" mean? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that farmers are no less apprehensive as time goes on of the danger that they are in? Does he not think that to suspend all consideration of measures which may be taken against infected meat imports while awaiting the results of the Committee's deliberations is not good enough? Is the hon. Gentleman and the Committee seized of the urgency of the matter?

Mr. Mackie

The Committee was appointed on 28th February and it had its first meeting on 14th March. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will think back to the Gowers Committee and of the enormous job which it had to do. I do not think that we can rush the Northumberland Committee's deliberations. The Duke of Northumberland fully appreciates the worry of farmers on the subject, and I do not think that it would do any good to rush the Committee. As I say, it is up to the Committee to decide whether it should make an interim report. We have given it a job to do, and we should allow it to do it in its own way, because it is a Committee of experts.