HC Deb 25 November 1987 vol 123 cc323-54


The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Selwyn Gummer)

I beg to move, That the Food Protection (Emergency Prohibitions) (England) Order 1987 (S.I., 1987, No. 1893), dated 5th November 1987, a copy of which was laid before this House on 5th November, be approved. The Order consolidates the Food Protection (Emergency Prohibitions) (England) (No. 2) Order 1987 and the seven subsequent amendment orders, none of which I will quote, into one order. It does not change their effect or introduce any new restrictions, but it might be helpful if I remind the House that these are the orders under which we were able to carry out the restrictions on movement of sheep as a result of the Chernobyl accident. The matter has been discussed on several previous occasions. The consequences of the terrible accident in Chernobyl have been considerable and people are rightly most concerned. If it is convenient to the House, I hope to speak about one aspect of the order, which has already been raised today, and leave any points which are raised and any other comments to the end of the debate.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

After the Chernobyl accident, the National Radiological Protection Board estimated that 40 persons—I use the statistical extrapolation — would die of cancer induced by the accident. In the light of the fact that the Government now wish to raise the bq/kg limit, and the fact that the NRPB has changed its assessment of what constitutes a permissible limit, do the Government now wish in any way to interfere in or change the assessment made by the NRPB of the lives lost as a result of the accident?

Mr. Gummer

The Government do not change the recommendations of the NRPB. It is its job to make them. The figures that the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) is putting together do not connect with each other. The hon. Gentleman must try not to frighten people by making such comments. I shall pursue my argument, and I hope that he will follow it carefully.

One of the problems of discussing this issue is that we must be absolutely straightforward with the public about exactly what happened in all occasions and at all times.

We can only do that if we are absolutely clear that on no occasion must we seek to use the fears of the public for reasons of our own. Those two things must guide us.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

I ask the specific question.

Mr. Gummer

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will have a lot to say when he makes his own speech.

I have been closely concerned with this accident since it happened and my right hon. Friend and I have decided to publish the figures month by month so that everyone will know what they are, and that two things will guide us. First, there should be no question of Ministers not knowing every detail. Secondly, every detail should be published for the country.

You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will be able to understand my concern when, this morning, as I was on the radio, I was challenged because a telex had appeared. I was told: David Clark"— if I may call him that, as it was in the broadcast— Shadow Agriculture Spokesman, will today tell the House of Commons that meat contaminated by radiation after Chernobyl did go on sale in Britain, thousands of tonnes of it. He says he can prove it." I was very much taken aback, because I did not have the telex in my notes. No one had mentioned that telex, which evidently came from the chief scientist of the radiochemical institute. It warned the Government. Therefore, it was a telex that I ought to have had in my documentation.

So once I got off the radio, having explained clearly to the public how outrageous it was to talk about the telex on the radio without it having been mentioned beforehand, I went back, rang the deputy secretary concerned and asked, "Where is this telex from the chief scientist of the radiochemical institute?" I understand that he immediately got on to other people and asked, "Where is this telex?" By 3 o'clock this afternoon we had not got the telex. So I rang the hon. Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) and he very kindly said that not only would he let me have the telex—

Mr. Campbell-Savours

The Minister is hysterical.

Mr. Gummer

The hon. Gentleman should wait for the hysteria.

The hon. Member for South Shields not only said that I could have the telex but kindly said that he would mention in the debate that I had not got a copy of the telex earlier.

I have a copy of the telex now. It does not come from the chief scientist of the radiochemical institute. It does not come from the Government. It comes from a company called Large and Company. What is Large and Company? It is a consultant company. With whom does it consult? [Interruption.]No, not the Labour party directly. It consults with a number of people but particularly with local authorities opposed to nuclear power.

To whom did the telex go? Not to the Ministry of Agriculture but, as I understand it, to the Department of the Environment. What did it say? Let me tell hon. Members first what it was suggested that it said. It was suggested that it said there were very high becquerel readings which would have meant that something should have been done immediately. The telex does not actually say that. In fact, it is difficult to see what it says. What it appears to say is to repeat what the Government had already stated publicly.

Mr. Robin Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)

Not all debates in the House are broadcast. Will my right hon. Friend make sure that the true statement that he is now giving to the House appears in the later version of the programme to which he has made reference, in which he took part this morning?

Mr. Gummer

My hon. Friend will know that it is difficult for me to make sure of that. I am sure the hon. Member for South Shields will want to make the point when he next appears on the "Today" programme.

The telex did not come from whom it was supposed to have come, nor did it go to whom it was said that it went. Nor was the content of it what was implied. It is a telex. That is certainly true. Otherwise none of the statements made is true. It is time that we looked at this carefully. It is said that the Government did some monitoring on 14 May, as if this had suddenly been discovered by the telex, as if the Government had done nothing about it, and as if it was known only now that these things had happened. I will tell the House how we knew; we knew because the Government published it in a press notice on 13 May. We did the monitoring and we published the information.

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (Derbyshire, West)

Will my right hon. Friend give us some idea why the Opposition needed to adopt these tactics and why they needed to invent telexes from the Ministry of Agriculture which were not from that Ministry? Can he make a copy of the telex available, because it sounds fascinating? Perhaps he will place a copy in the Library.

Mr. Gummer

I shall be happy to place it in the Library. I do not think it is an invented telex. It is certainly a telex. The complaint is that the telex is not what it purported to be.

Dr. David Clark (South Shields)

I will deal with the substantive point in a moment, but in response to the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. McLoughlin) may I say that the telex has been in the Library of the House since July 1986? The hon. Gentleman could have consulted it if he had taken an interest in it.

Mr. Gummer

I still believe that there is a substantive problem. We are dealing with something which is very frightening. Therefore, we need to deal with it with the greatest respect for truth. If we intend to raise the matter, one of the things we might do is to get in touch beforehand with the person who was supposed to have sent the telex in case we have misunderstood a complex series of notes. The telex is not well written. It is difficult to understand to what it refers. I have asked some very senior scientists to look at it. There are problems as to what the telex meant originally. I would have thought that the hon. Member for South Shields might have felt that this was an occasion to ask the Minister beforehand, out of courtesy, perhaps to explain it, but that did not happen.

The story went on. The hon. Gentleman said that the Government did nothing for seven full weeks after the monitoring. I think it would be interesting for the House to know why we did nothing and exactly what happened. We did not do anything, of course, and we said that we would not do anything. So everybody knew; there was no secret about it. Why did we do nothing? We did nothing because of what we were monitoring. First, we monitored the sheep. These are the sheep that are supposed to have entered the food chain.

Mr. Campbeil-Savours

They did.

Mr. Gummer

What an odd thing it would be if they entered the food chain because these were 10 kg lambs. I do not know how close the hon. Gentleman is to his farming community but 10 kg lambs are rarely found for sale. Lambs usually have to reach about 30 kg, so they have quite a long way to go. The one thing we knew was that these 10 kg lambs were not wandering off the hillside into a market.

Mr. Tim Boswell (Daventry)

Is it possible that these lambs might have gone to Italy because they like smaller lambs there?

Mr. Gummer

They might have gone to Italy except that they would have had to be about 20 kg. Of course, before they go to Italy or anywhere else they come down off the high hills and they are — we used to say fattened but now we say finished—finished a bit lower down. That is what happens to them. So we know, first, that they are not going to be sold; secondly, they will be brought down to land which is totally non-contaminated or has low contamination; thirdly, they will grow bigger. So the level which is in them becomes a smaller proportion of their total weight. Therefore, if they are above the level originally, when they come to be sold they will be below the level.

Mr. Campbell-Savours


Mr. Gummer

I want to finish this because it is complicated and I want to get it absolutely right.

So they were above the level but we kept monitoring them carefully. Why? To make sure that when action was necessary we would take it because the 1,000 bq level is not what the hon. Member for South Shields said; it is not a safety level but an action level. It is the level at which it is decided what programme of action will be taken. We took the decision. We said that at the point at which any meat or anything else entered the food chain we would take the action necessary to make sure that nobody was damaged or endangered by it.

Mr. Campbell-Savours


Mr. Gummer

No; I shall be happy to give way later, but I want to get the sequence of events right.

The hon. Member for South Shields said that the lambs were innocently sent to market. Innocently? They were being barmily sent to market. Anyone who sent a 10 kg lamb to market would be a natural. What did the hon. Gentleman say? He said that there were thousands of tonnes of it. I happen to know that the hon. Gentleman went today to discover how many tonnes of lamb went through the markets that he quoted. I have got them here —Carlisle, Kendal, Ulverston and Penrith. Having said that thousands of tonnes of contaminated lamb went into the food chain he went today to find out how much had gone through. It is less than 1,000 tonnes of lamb altogether.

So there could not have been thousands of tonnes of contaminated lamb. Why? Because there was very little lamb going through the market at that time and they were all a darned sight bigger than 10 kg. I do not know how many 10 kg lambs one needs to add up to thousands of tonnes, but there were not 1,000 tonnes. I do not want to overdo it; it would be about 600 tonnes. Indeed, I have overdone it because I have shown that the hon. Gentleman was frightening people for party political purposes. That is a scandal.

This is the beginning of a campaign. I never had so many questions put down as about these things. The hon. Gentleman is obviously determined to try to frighten the public unnecessarily. Sometimes one has to warn the public. Sometimes one has to tell the public that things are dangerous and have to be handled extremely carefully. To frighten people when it is unnecessary is outrageous.

We are then told that the Government did not take the necessary measures. The interviewer was so convinced that this was the suggestion—Mr. Redhead is a man of great discernment—that he said: You say 7 full weeks—lets go back to when the first warning was issued." Then we had the bit about the chief scientist at the radiochemical institute. The letter was not sent from him, nor was it sent to him. He does not exist. There is no such person. We are told that we then ignored the situation. We ignored it so much that we monitored it in great detail and, on 20 June, several months before the main market period, we introduced tough regulations, irrespective of the damage that they might do to farmers. We made sure that the people of this country were protected.

At that time the Opposition were prepared to support us in this. They said, "It is our duty to make sure that farmers do not suffer from irresponsible stories. We have got to be very tough, but we will not make the farmers lose their markets. We will make sure that the farmers can honestly say that no contaminated meat which may harm people will reach the market." That is what the hon. Gentleman's predecessor, as shadow Minister, said. Is it possible that he was too responsible to continue in his job?

Mr. Martin Redmond (Don Valley)

The Minister said earlier that he had all the details at his fingertips. Will he tell us how many sheep have been tested in South Yorkshire? Some of my constituents get their drinking water from wells. Has any testing been done on those wells? The Pennines stood a chance of becoming contaminated and the water coming down into those wells might also have been contaminated.

Mr. Gummer

The number of sheep tested was 2,020 and the number found to be contaminated was two. They were contaminated at 1,200 bq instead of 1,000 bq. The safety figure suggested in Sweden is 6,000 bq.

I want to get the sequence of events right. We then did what we said we would do and protected the public. We were supported in that, and the hon. Gentleman's predecessor complimented the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on the way in which it had co-ordinated the action. On the radio this morning, the hon. Gentleman said that there was complete confusion within Government ranks. I hope that he will admit that he has wrongly attacked many honourable and decent civil servants who carried out this remarkable act on which his predecessor complimented them. He then said that thousands of tonnes had entered the food chain when there were none. What did he then go on to say? He said that we have a lower safety level than any other European country. I thought I would have a look.

Mr. Frank Cook (Stockton, North)


Mr. Gummer

The hon. Gentleman may take me outside, but I shall tell him what the hon. Member for South Shields said. I checked the typescript of the broadcast. It said: any of the other European countries." Only two other European countries have had problems with meat contamination. Neither of them is in the European Community. One is Norway and the other is Sweden. Both those countries have Socialist Governments. They are both safety conscious. Both of them are extremely careful, not least about the reindeer, which were mainly affected by the problem.

Of course, in Britain we have a level of 1,000 bq. It is not a safety level. It is called an action level in all countries. Sweden's lowest action level was 1,500 bq; Norway's action level was 6,000 bq. Such are the figures. The House may wonder why I have taken such time to cover those details. The reason is all those people out there, listening to the "Today" programme, who have been told that we are not a safe country and that the food that our farmers produce is not safe to eat. The hon. Member for South Shields has done the industry and the country a grave disservice this morning.

The story does not end there. We are concerned to tell the truth, publicly, about these matters. They are true issues and they are issues that must be put forward properly. For that reason, I shall spend a short time discussing Yorkshire. The order would be concerned with Yorkshire if we had any worry about the safety of land in that region. However, Yorkshire has been mentioned and I shall briefly refer to it.

The hon. Member for South Shields spoke of dangerous things in Yorkshire and said that we had only done something because he had told us to do so. The hon. Gentleman said that we knew nothing about the problem, that we had hardly monitored the area and that it was all extremely dangerous. Let me explain our monitoring system. Before the cloud from Chernobyl reached us we made sure that the Meteorological Office produced the best historical rainfall pattern that was possible to ascertain what areas were most likely to be contaminated.

Mr. Frank Cook

Then they were kept secret.

Mr. Gummer

Then we said, publicly, exactly what areas were most likely to have been affected. We commissioned a public report from the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology to look at all the lichen and vegetation to discover again where the contamination had been greatest. That was done on a nationwide basis.

To check the information received we examined foodstuffs of almost every type, in every county, to compare them against each other. As a result of that and our constant monitoring we then monitored particularly closely those places where there had been greater contamination. Nothing of any kind suggested that the part of Yorkshire in question was one that we should monitor particularly carefully.

As it turns out — [HON.MEMBERS: "Ah!"] — we had some evidence that suggested that three things, taken together, were surprising. First, there had been a local rainstorm. Secondly, there had been a patch of land, some 20 acres of moorland, which had been burnt off extremely heavily and the sheep had congregated on that spot. Thirdly, when we came to test those sheep, out of those 2,300 animals, two turned out to have a becquerel level of 1,200. For the rest of this year and the next I could eat animals that had a bequerel level of 1,200. If I ate nothing else but sheepmeat, day in and day out—I would ask the hon. Member for South Shields to do likewise—at the end of that period I would have absorbed as much radioactivity as I would from a routine chest X-ray. No one in this country could possibly eat enough lamb with such a becquerel level to get the equivalent of an average dose resulting from a chest X-ray. However, today the hon. Member for South Shields was frightening people by saying that if they ate lamb from Yorkshire they would become ill. I believe that the farmers have a right to sue him because he has suggested that their products are not fit to eat. Unfortunately, our civil servants cannot sue for the impression given that they have not done their job properly, that they are not protecting the people of this country and that they are not doing what they should do. That is wholly unacceptable and wrong.

Ms. Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent, North)

In view of the assurances that the Minister has given us, can he suggest why it was that, when local authorities and local councils throughout the country—which were concerned about the high rainfall after Chernobyl — made direct phone calls to the Department of the Environment and everywhere else, they were referred to answering machines and received no advice about how to measure radiation?

Mr. Gummer

There was an incident room and I rang it regularly to ensure that it was answering calls and people were not passed on to an answering machine service. I was extremely interested to learn that the local authorities that complained were overwhelmingly those that had a particular view about nuclear power. If anyone suggested that there was some reason why we should do some special testing we did so in case there was any possible chance that we had overlooked something.

Mr. McLoughlin

Will my right hon. Friend kindly remind the House that, for at least a part of that dramatic weekend, there was a continual refusal from the Soviet Union to give any information to the world as to what had happened? It was only as a result of the viligance of the Swedish Government that any monitoring was done. The Soviet Union—I well remember, because it was in the midst of my by-election — refused to give any information.

Mr. Gummer

I accept what my hon. Friend has said. If one does not have a free society, the habit of giving information does not come easily.

Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax)


Mr. Frank Cook


Mr. Gummer

I will give way to the hon. Member for Stockton, North (Mr. Cook) and then I must finish my speech.

Mr. Frank Cook

There are two matters that I wish to raise with the Minister and I should be grateful for his response.

First, does he not agree that the Soviet authorities have been quite uncharacteristically open about the Chernobyl incident — [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh yes?"] Hang on a minute. I ask that hon. Members listen to the point before they express any kind of opinion. Is it not true that the Soviet authorities have been uncharacteristically open regarding every specific technical detail about the things that led up to the incident, that happened during the incident and that followed?

Secondly, I am interested in the detailed certainty that the Minister displays when telling us all the steps that were taken and all the security measures that were gathered. If that is the case, why is it that, when other hon. Members and myself were trying to gain information at that time, our parliamentary questions were being chased from one Ministry to another, day after day, week after week, because nobody had the answers and the information that we were seeking?

Mr. Gummer

On the first question, of course it is true that the Soviets were extremely open once they were found out, but until then, they were as closed as they always are and will be. As far as the hon. Gentleman's second question, I know of no question that——

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

The right hon. Gentleman has been found out.

Mr. Gummer

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) has not been here, but if he had he would know that the only person who has been found out in this debate is his hon. Friend the Member for South Shields who, for the moment, occupies the Opposition Front Bench.

The hon. Member for Stockton, North must accept that any questions put to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food were properly answered and every detail announced. We did not miss a single opportunity to try to give the facts as they were at the very moment that we had the chance to do so.

Mr. Frank Cook

That is not so.

Mr. Gummer

I believe that the key issue is that we must take all the measures that are necessary, and more, to protect the British people from any fear that their food was contaminated in any way or would be contaminated in any way. The serious matter before the House is that, in an attempt to score party political points, the hon. Gentleman sold the farmers down the river, frightened people in a wholly unacceptable way, and has shown himself entirely unsuitable to pretend that he should sit on the Opposition Bench in his present capacity.

8.19 pm
Dr. David Clark (South Shields)

I found the Minister's remarks somewhat hysterical. The way in which he has behaved this evening does his office and his cause considerable harm. I intend, in a calm and calculated manner, to disprove many of the points that he has tried to make. I shall do that coldly and rationally, because that is how to get people to listen, and that is how to achieve results.

I agree with one sentiment that the Minister expressed, which was to the effect that he believed that all necessary steps must be taken to ensure that the British people could feel happy about the public safety and health aspects of the accident. I agree 100 per cent. with that. However, if that is the Minister's belief, and in view of the criticism that has come not only from me, but from many bodies that naturally support him — such as the Country Landowners Association — would it not be better to bring the matter into the open with a full public inquiry which could examine it in detail?

The hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. McLoughlin), who had the impertinence to intervene and then disappear, referred to the Soviet Union. The orders that we are discussing, under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985(a),are designed to protect the general public in the event of any future accident like that at Chernobyl. I believe, and I hope to prove this evening, that the Government were found wanting. I am not making a party point; I think that there are lessons to be learnt, which have not been learnt because of the hysterical response that we have just observed.

As the Minister said, this is not an inconsequential order. I rather wish that he had mentioned the order, because it might have been helpful. It is a serious order, revoking eight previous orders relating to this important issue. Now, 17 months after the first of those orders, is an appropriate time to sit back coolly and establish whether there are lessons to be learnt, and whether the position could be improved if—God forbid — there were other emergencies like the one that we faced after Chernobyl.

Let me start from a point of consensus. The Government are, of course, in no way to blame for what happened at Chernobyl; obviously, that was the responsibility of another Government, and the duty of our Government was to protect their own people. I hope, however, to persuade the House that the present Government must accept the blame for the confusion that has emerged in Britain in the aftermath of the accident. We have heard tonight a defensive, almost reactionary, speech from the Minister, full of inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Many of the facts were wrong. Let me give one example. When my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. Redmond) asked a question about South Yorkshire, the Minister gave the figures for North Yorkshire. I assure the Minister that they are two separate counties.

Mr. Gummer

I clearly said "Yorkshire". That covers the whole of Yorkshire. That is what I said, and Hansardwill show that I said it.

Dr. Clark

The Minister will never get away with that. The question was about South Yorkshire, and his answer related to North Yorkshire. When he checks the figures with his advisers, he will find that I am correct. There are two cases in north Yorkshire. It was in that area that in 1986, the Government monitored 14 out of nearly 2 million sheep.

Mr. Andy Stewart (Sherwood)

That is plenty.

Dr. Clark

The hon. Gentleman says that that is plenty, but I believe that 14 out of 2 million is a pretty low statistical reference on which to base an entire case.

Perhaps I can remind the House of one or two facts —we have not heard many facts tonight. I do not think that even the Minister would disagree with one of them. I know Cumbria, probably slightly better than the Minister does. I was bred there, I started my working life on the land and I have many friends who farm there, and who tell me of the inconsistency and confusion that they have experienced. They have advised me enormously over the past few months, as I have tried to investigate as fully as possible the way in which the Government have operated the scheme.

My thinking is also influenced by the fact that I was living in Cumbria when the greatest nuclear accident prior to Chernobyl occurred, at Windscale in 1957. I well remember the milk being poured down the drains, and the reassurances of the scientists that it was safe there. We now know that there are doubts—I put it as mildly as that— about that advice.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

Under the cloak of secrecy.

Dr. Clark

As my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) reminds us, the Official Secrets Act imposed a cloak of secrecy.

Let us examine the chronology. It is important to get that right, because it is the substance of my case. The Chernobyl explosion happened early on the morning of 26 April. As we have been reminded by one of the gentlemen of the rent-a-mob gang who have now disappeared, the Swedes were the first to experience the Chernobyl cloud on 28 April. The following day, the cloud was breaking up into various sections, and radioactivity reached western Europe. The Minister did not give the details, but I shall do so. On 29 April, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food started to monitor fresh milk in southern Britain.

On 2 May — the dates are very important — the radioactive plume reached the south-east of the United Kingdom. The Minister's Department requested regular updates from various public bodies — over a dozen of them—to try to work out where the danger could lie. Sampling was extended from milk to vegetation. On 3 May, the plume passed north and west over the United Kingdom. Heavy rain during the passage of the plume on the night of 2 May and part of the next day resulted in high rainfall in parts of the north-west, north Wales, southern Scotland and, as we now know, parts of Yorkshire.

The Minister has reminded us that, on 4 May, his Department established an operations room. It is interesting that, while the Minister was able to get through, my hon. Friends could not. Nevertheless, that operations room was established, and arrangements were made to try to obtain samples for analysis as quickly as possible. Those arrangements included airlifting.

On 5 May, the National Radiological Protection Board confirmed that published derived emergency reference levels, as the Minister calls them, should be established. I hope that the Minister and I agree on all of that, because it is fact.

We now come to more contentious but equally factual issues, leading up to the original orders that were discussed in the House last year — and which, indeed, are consolidated in SI 1893, which is before us this evening.

Following the arrival of the Chernobyl cloud over the United Kingdom, there was considerable public concern and press comment. Anyone who knew anything about radioactivity knew that, sooner or later, there would be a radioactive fallout throughout Europe to a greater or lesser extent. But few people knew the effect of that fallout.

On 6 May, public concern was such that the then Secretary of State for the Environment, the right hon. Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker), came to the House and made a statement. Quite rightly, the right hon. Gentleman tried to reassure the public. He said: the effects of the cloud have already been assessed and that none presents a risk to health in the United Kingdom."—[Official Report,6 May 1986; Vol. 97, c. 21.] The general public and the farming community—so well beloved by the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) and his friends — were, naturally, reassured by that. However, the Minister was perhaps a little too hasty in his words of reassurance. Although the Department of the Environment took that line, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was getting together the statistics and making arrangements to co-ordinate the results.

On 5 May, the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology obtained radioactivity readings of caesium on grass of over 26,000 bq/kg in Ennerdale and of over 6,500 bq/kg near Seascale. Both places were later included in the restricted area of Cumbria. The warning bells should have been ringing in the Minister's ears when he saw those figures.

It is also worth making a point about the emergency reference levels to which the Minister referred. The figure of 1,000 bq for radioactive caesium in sheepmeat is internationally accepted. In the past, the Minister has tried to confuse the House by suggesting that 4,000 to 5,000 bq/ kg is the appropriate level. His only source for that is the Article 31 Group of European Community advisers who are in a very small minority. I remind the Minister, too, that he ought to look at the report that was published last week by the National Radiological Protection Board. It suggests that the safety levels that we have been operating in Great Britain are too low and that we need higher safety standards.

If we want the truth about the emergency reference levels, we should turn again to Hansard.In answer to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food accurately and concisely how the levels were arrived at. The hon. Lady said: Emergency reference levels for sheepmeat in the United Kingdom were agreed by the Government on the advice of the National Radiological Protection Board and were derived from recommendations published by the International Commission on Radiological Protection." — [Official Report,13 June 1986; Vol. 99, c. 335.] That was a straightforward answer. The Minister should not try to confuse the general public by referring to an outrageously high level — a figure that even his Government were not prepared to support in the Council of Ministers discussions in Brussels earlier this week.

Mr. Gummer

For the most vulnerable group—babies consuming milk that has possibly been contaminated by radiation—the World Health Organisation has referred to a level of 2,000 bq—a figure twice as high as ours. Sweden and Norway have chosen 1,506 bq. Is it not possible that the hon. Gentleman is slightly over-egging the pudding?

Dr. Clark

It does not- become the Minister to belittle his hon. Friend the then Parliamentary Secretary, who answered honestly and openly the questions that were asked. Furthermore, the Minister should not doubt the wisdom of his professional advisers, the National Radiological Protection Board. It ill becomes the Minister to castigate another hon. Member for criticising him when he criticises his own advisers.

On 14 May, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food carried out tests in Cumbria, when at least four sheep were found to be above the safety level of 1,000 bq/ kg. One of those sheep had a reading that was in excess of the World Health Organisation figure, to which the Minister has just referred. It had a reading in excess of 2,400 bq/kg. No action had been taken by the Government by 14 May. Even when they were armed with this disturbing evidence, Ministers, amazingly enough, refused to act. We had to wait until 20 June 1986 before the then Minister of Agriculture, the right hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Jopling), announced to the House that restrictions on sheep movement were to be imposed in Cumbria.

I emphasised the fact that it took the Government seven weeks to reach a decision. I shall repeat that point, because the Minister obviously does not understand the farming cycle in Cumbria. During those seven weeks a certain amount of sheepmeat, some of which undoubtedly contained high levels of radioactivity, entered the food chain. If he is prepared to listen, I shall explain to the Minister how that happened.

On 20 June, the Minister's restrictions covered most of Cumbria on both the high and low land. His hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean) is more aware of that fact than most. Many of the lambs that had been born early in the season in the lowland areas were offered for sale at a local market in that period. I have checked that fact with farmers in Cumbria. They sent early born lambs to market.

I do not make these allegations without having checked the facts. I am not a fool; I realise that the Minister will challenge me if I make general allegations. Therefore, I contacted the Meat and Livestock Commission and took as examples four markets in Cumbria; Carlisle, Kendal, Penrith and Ulverston. Carlisle market takes a number of sheep from Scotland, and I remind the House that parts of Dumfriesshire and Nithsdale are also restricted areas. The Meat and Livestock Commission advised me that at least 24,900 sheep and lambs were offered under the sheep variable premium scheme at those four markets during those seven weeks. They were judged by local farmers to be fat lambs ready for slaughter. Fat lambs were also offered to other local markets.

I have given the figure for those four markets, but I have underestimated the number. There have been other well-documented assertions. The New Scientistclaims that over 40,000 sheep entered the food chain. I stand by the figures that were given to me today by the Meat and Livestock Commission.

Mr. Gummer

The hon. Gentleman says that thousands of tonnes of contaminated meat went on sale in Britain, but he has been unable to prove that a single tonne of contaminated meat went on sale in Britain. The reason that he has been unable to do so is because it did not go on sale in Britain.

Dr. Clark

The Minister is getting so worked up that he is not listening to the points that are being put to him. I have quoted the figure of 24,000 bq/kg. He told me that the figure is somewhat in excess of 1,000 bq/kg. I have grossly underestimated the position. The other figures— for example, those in the New Scientist—are in excess of my figure. If one adds together those figures, one comes to at least 2,000 tonnes.

Does the Minister believe that the 1,000 farms in Northern Ireland that are now restricted and that were not restricted last year did not have contaminated lambs? Does he believe that the 39 farms in Scotland that are now restricted and that were not restricted last year did not have contaminated lambs? Does he think that those farmers did not send their lambs to market? Of course they did. They are in business to make a profit, and their business is the breeding of lambs.

Mr. Gummer

The farmers did not send those lambs to market, because they were under the size at which they could be sent to market. The hon. Gentleman is taking the contamination levels in one part of the country and applying them to another, thus frightening people by suggesting that they have eaten contaminated lambs. The hon. Gentleman is a disgrace.

Dr. Clark

I apologise if I have upset the Minister, but he does not listen. Those lambs were offered and accepted for sale under the sheep variable premium scheme. They met all the necessary requirements. The Minister keeps on about the size of lambs. His hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border could tell him that we have low land in Cumbria on which sheep can be born early. A number of farmers have told me that they sent lambs from areas that were later restricted. If those areas were restricted on 20 June, is the Minister saying that they were not contaminated two weeks or two days before? Of course they were likely to be contaminated, and that is the point that I seek to make.

Mr. Gummer

When lambs that have been contaminated on the high land are taken down to the low land, for some time they are still contaminated. Therefore, the restriction order was put on to ensure that those lambs were not taken to market. The take-up of caesium occurs over a period. We know how long that period is. Therefore, we monitored lamb for that period and the moment there was any possibility of contaminated lamb above 1,000 bq/kg either in size or place, we stopped it going to market. The hon. Gentleman is attempting to mislead the House and the public.

Dr. Clark

I do not need a lessen in elementary sheep breeding in Cumbria. I started my working life on the farms of Cumbria and I know more about that than the Minister. He said that lambs born in the high areas are brought down to the low lands for further fattening. He is right, but they are not brought down in May and June. They are brought down at the back end of the year and later in summer. The lambs that were sent to market were lowland lambs, born in early 1986, that ate grass in an area that was restricted.

The Minister is having great difficulty in appreciating logic, so I shall move on to another topic. It appears that there was considerable confusion between the various Government bodies and Departments. It is quite plain that the Department of the Environment was not sure what the Minister of Agriculture was doing. That is serious, because they were dealing with the Chernobyl accident. We are looking at how we reacted to that disaster so that we can learn from it. Is the Minister convinced that the arrangements that have been in place for the past 20 months are adequate? I appreciate that ear-tagging was later undertaken, but could that not have been done earlier? If we have another disaster, I ask that he should consider ear-tagging at an earlier stage. Twenty-five thousand blue-marked sheep in Cumbria were monitored.

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle)

Did the blue paint wash off those sheep? The Minister has not mentioned the Cockermouth market. A senior auctioneer in the county told me today that many fat lambs would have gone through that market. Can my hon. Friend elaborate on that?

Dr. Clark

My hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew) not only comes from Cumbria but is a food scientist who worked for many in the food industry. He knows a thing or two about the food industry. If the Minister talked to sheep farmers in Cumbria or the hon. Member for Penrith and The Border, I think he would find that that blue paint washed off very quickly.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

The hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean) was told of those lamb movements by representatives of the NFU in the county. He was told precisely what I was told when I inquired of farmers what was happening. I raised that in the House and it was pooh-poohed by the Government. That is in Hansard.

Dr. Clark

My hon. Friend the Member for Workington also comes from Cumbria and I think that he knows more about Cumbria than the Minister. A number of farmers told me that the blue paint washed off. I did not raise this previously because I thought it was unfair, but when the blue paint washed off, that resulted in the secondary sale of sheep and in sheep being mixed up. If the Minister checks, he will find that there was slippage and leakage in the system. I will not be more explicit, as I think that the Minister will accept that.

On the basis of the monitoring of 52,000 sheep, the Minister released for slaughter the remainder of the blue-marked sheep on 27 February. However, thousands of other blue-marked sheep were sold outside the designated area in Cumbria. As the Minister told us in his elementary agriculture lesson, there is a pattern of sheep movement. Hill sheep move down to the lusher pastures in the southern counties. Many blue-marked sheep went downstream, so to speak, for fattening.

In southern Cumbria one of the traditional destinations is Staffordshire. Those sheep, after fattening, went to slaughter in 1987. Yet, in a parliamentary answer on 24 November, the Parliamentary Secretary advised that no monitoring of any sheep was undertaken in Staffordshire. As the sheep had come from an area of known risk, would it not have been sensible to have done at least some sample monitoring prior to the slaughtering? I suggest that that is another point that the Minister might like to note as worthy of consideration.

Some of the Cumbrian sheep went to parts of north Yorkshire for fattening, at which time it was thought that the area was free from contamination. Yet we now know that parts of north Yorkshire were affected perhaps as badly as parts of Cumbria. Why was there so little liaison between his Ministry and the Meteorological Office before the Yorkshire Postand I drew the report to the Minister's attention?

I hope that the Minister was joking earlier. Is he satisfied that only 14 sheep out of almost 2 million in North Yorkshire is a satisfactory sample to monitor? That is very serious. Is he satisfied that no sheep out of almost 100,000 in south Yorkshire were monitored? Those were high upland areas. The areas in south Yorkshire were peatland and areas of high rainfall where monitoring should have been done 20 months ago. The Minister made the point, rather jokingly, that in Yorkshire a couple of weeks ago only two lambs were found to be over the 1,000 bq/kg limit. If there were only two in November 1987— it was a small sample—I wonder how many we would have found if we had done detailed monitoring at the time of the rain cloud in May 1986. That is the sort of question that has to be answered.

I have a question on the Order Paper asking whether the Minister will undertake spot checks for radioactivity on sheep flocks in the five northern counties of England. By a strange coincidence, the head of branch C of the Ministry's northern regional office in Leeds, which is responsible for civil emergencies, is quoted as saying that a scheme is under way to make random checks, and the testing itself began last week. I understand that press inquiries at the Minister's office evoke only denials of such spot checks taking place.

That is what I mean by confusion between and within Government Departments. Quite simply, the left hand of the Government was and is clearly still unaware of what the right hand is doing. There appears to have been a complete lack of co-ordination. Today the Minister was unaware of the facts that I and my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle put to him about the blue-painted sheep in Cumbria. I did not raise that point, for obvious reasons, but the Minister did not know, and I find that incredible.

The key point to emerge from the order and perhaps the cardinal point that came out of the Minister's speech was that we have not learnt the lesson of the events following 26 April 1986. It is essential that if ever there were to be another nuclear accident we should not repeat the mistakes we have made in dealing with the emergency after Chernobyl. That is not only my opinion. Other Government bodies recognise that the operation was far from satisfactory. Dr. Smith of the Meteorological Office, in his famous report, said: To some extent Government and the nuclear industry at large within the United Kingdom found themselves somewhat disorganised by the sheer scale of the Chernobyl incident as it affected the United Kingdom. That is the point that we are trying to make.

I end where I began, by saying that the Minister does himself no good at all with his hysterical outbursts, by his failure to address his mind to the order before us and by the sheer crass ignorance that he shows about sheep farming in Cumbria.

8.54 pm
Mr. David Curry (Skipton and Ripon)

I would like to address my remarks to the position in my constituency. As you will be aware, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the most recent stories have concerned my constituency.

I should like to thank my right hon. Friend the Minister for his assurance to my constituents that there never was a danger, there is no danger now and that there will not be a danger in the future. Those who have whipped up the crisis should now tell my constituents that—…

Mr. Campbell-Savours

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Will you clarify the narrow terms in which the debate is taking place? Am I not correct in saying that it relates to the county of Cumbria?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

The hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry) has only just started his speech. I have not heard anything out of order yet.

Mr. Curry

The hon. Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) spoke about sheep moving to North Yorkshire. Therefore, as the hon. Member representing the constituency of Skipton and Ripon, I am taking my cue from him and referring to the matters affecting my constituents.

Will my right hon. Friend confirm in his reply that there never has been a crisis, that there will not be a crisis and that those who have lived off the so-called crisis for the past couple of weeks now have to lay it to rest? Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the tests undertaken with great speed by the Ministry after this story appeared in the Yorkshire Post—a story to which the hon. Member for South Shields attached himself with great alacrity — showed that only two ewes out of more than 2,000 were found to be above the 1,000 bq/kg level, which is 0–001 per cent? Those two ewes were in a flock of 70. They were all shearlings concentrated on a small patch of moorland in one part of my constituency.

The only even relatively high count found on the grass, heather, lichen, or bilberry that was tested was on heather that came from precisely the same part of the moor. With most sheep now coming off the high ground and beginning to eat feed, it is clear that even those low counts will reduce. I must seriously question whether it is worth continuing with the tests at the same intensive level.

Mr. Gummer

Will my hon. Friend help Opposition Members who said that even one ewe is enough by explaining that no ewes would be sold into the food chain until they had reached the end of their reproductive years and that the two ewes involved were breeding ewes?

Mr. Curry

The entire herd consisted of breeding ewes, and they will continue to be used for breeding. The two ewes found to be over the 1,000 bq/kg level have been slaughtered, so they are not in a position to do any more harm.

There are one or two suggestions that could usefully be retained in case we ever face the same sort of problem again.

Clearly the problem in my constituency arose because of a very localised storm. The Meteorological Office draws up its data from local detail and depends sometimes on amateur observations using rain gauges. I understand from my researches that it takes about seven months to compile local weather data based on this local input and information. The significance of that local storm was not noticed until about February, about nine months after Chernobyl.

The Ministry got the big areas—Scotland, Cumbria and Wales — right, but clearly it would be helpful if some means could be found to lessen the time for the compilation of data of what is necessarily a scattered series of observations.

It would be helpful if we could be certain that the bodies doing the monitoring were reporting to one central point, so that all of the observations are sent to their intended destination. Those are two small management points, but nonetheless they are valid, given the circumstances that prevailed in my constituency.

It was right of the press to bring this matter to our attention. Having done so, and it having been clearly demonstrated that there is no crisis, it is the duty of the press to inform my constituents and their readers that the affair is closed and that there is no reason for concern. When I read the press reports, I went to my constituency. I expected to drive up the Al and see the southbound carriageway blocked by my constituents, their furniture on roof racks, fleeing the area. However, I found to my great satisfaction that their good sense had prevailed and that farmers were still more concerned about the variable premium than Chernobyl fallout. That is a tribute to the good sense that they and the rest of my constituents showed.

9 pm

Mr. Eric Martlew (Carlisle)

I did not hear the radio broadcast, so I am a little surprised by the heat that has been generated. I speak as a Cumbrian Member who has sheep in his constituency, and it may surprise Cumbrian Members that they are grazing on Rickerby Park.

Those sheep are not affected by the order, but many people in Cumbria are concerned at the way that the Government have tackled the monitoring and control of sheep since the Chernobyl incident in the Ukraine on 26 April 1986. At that time, I was employed as a manager in a large milk factory just outside of my constituency. I was relieved, as were many other people in food industries, when in May the Secretary of State for the Environment said that radiation levels were nowhere near the levels at which there was a hazard to health. That was reassuring, but it turned out to be the first of many misguided statements that were given by Ministers. At best it was a wrong guess; at worst it was a deliberate misstatement to lull people into a false sense of security. It is a sad state of affairs that if, 18 months later, there were a similar accident, the Government would be no better prepared than they were in April 1986.

I shall recap briefly the events after the accident on 26 April. On 2 and 3 May we had severe downpours in parts of northern England, especially the Cumbrian fells and parts of Yorkshire. That rain contained high levels of radiation, especially of caesium, which is a substance that everybody admits has a half-life of 30 years. It was not until 20 June that any sort of order was made stopping sales of sheep. As if that were not bad enough, it was not until 24 June that that order was put into effect in Scotland. I am sure that the Chernobyl fallout did not recognise Hadrian's wall and that some sheep went to market in Scotland after the ban had been imposed in Cumbria, which demonstrates the inconsistency of the Government.

On 20 June, a statement was made by the right hon. Member for Westmoreland and Lonsdale (Mr. Jopling), who was then the Minister of Agriculture, and a Cumbrian Member. It says: These present a satisfactory picture overall and there is no reason for anyone to be concerned about the safety of food in the shops."—[Official Report,20 June 1986; Vol. 99, c. 1333.] The implication of the press statement was that this was a short-term problem that would go away; that although radio-caesium had a half-life of 30 years in adult animals, half-life is estimated at between 30 and 100 days, but that in lamb it would be shorter—between 25 and 50 days.

People reading that would be happy to assume that this was a small problem that would go away. It reminds me of the statements that were made by politicians and generals at the outbreak of the first world war—"It will all be over by Christmas." We all know that the first world war went on until 1918. Some 18 months later, I bet that no Minister is prepared to tell us when the ban will be lifted from Cumbria. I hope that the Minister of State mentions this point.

Today, I asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether is was likely that the ban would be lifted within the next 12 months. He said no. It appears that the problems resulting from Chernobyl could last longer than those resulting from the first world war. There are still 75,000 sheep in Cumbria affected by the order. One might have thought that the number would decrease, but it will increase to 150,000 sheep on 150 farms next spring after the lambing season.

Becquerel levels in the county are still high. As late as last July, 4,000 bq/kg were found in a sample. I understand that the failure rate on the affected earth is still 5 per cent. and that often the sheep that fail have 2,000 or 3,000 bq/ kg. If the statements about the time scale of the problem were wrong, one could easily believe that the statements about the safety of the food in shops were wrong. If the Government can be wrong on one, I am sure that they can be wrong on another. Can we really believe that no affected animals were put on the market?

If the Minister is so sure, why has he not been able to produce the figures? Why can he not say that the authorities tested the sheep that went through the Carlisle market and found them below the stated level? The right hon. Gentleman cannot say that, because the authorities failed in their duty to test those sheep. If that obvious step had been taken, we would not have had to have this debate. We would have known for certain that the authorities failed to protect the public. I believe that some of the lambs that passed through the market should not have done so. The delay between early May and 20 June was a disastrous decision, taken by an unprepared Government.

I have come to the Chamber not to destroy the confidence of the people of Cumbria but to restore it. If confidence is not restored, the county will suffer. Our farmers must be well compensated for the loss not only of lambs but of land values. We must ensure that the restrictions are severe and that anyone who breaks the rules is caught. I am not sure whether there are people in place who can find out whether the rules are broken. I am not sure whether there have been any prosecutions, but I do not want to go into that. We must restore confidence at the international level.

The effect on milk has been mentioned, I think twice. The position in Cumbria following the Chernobyl incident was difficult. Many organisations that exported goods lost major orders in the traditional markets of Asia, Africa and South America. The becquerel levels imposed by those countries were much lower than those imposed by Britain and the position was not helped by our friends in Australia and New Zealand who went around saying, "You do not want to buy any milk from northern Europe because it is full of radiation."

Milk with high becquerel levels, although below the legal minimum, was transported from exporting factories to the home trade, to the doorstep, to ensure that milk with low becquerel levels went to the export market. That is not something that we should be pleased about, and we must be ready for that——

Mr. Gummer

Is the hon. Gentleman alleging that milk with dangerous becquerel levels was sold on the British market?

Mr. Martlew

The Minister was obviously not listening. I said that the milk fell within the legal limits; I am sure that when the Minister reads Hansardhe will see that.

Mr. Gummer

I am not trying to catch the hon. Gentleman out, but he must remember that everything that he says is listened to outside. I want him to confirm that no milk was sold in this country that would be dangerous to someone who drank it.

Mr. Martlew

I was saying that milk containing safe becquerel levels — but which would not be accepted abroad because safety standards are different — was transferred from factories here and sent into the home trade, while milk with low becquerel levels was brought into the exporting factories to go abroad. I am not saying that at any time we sold milk containing becquerel levels above those laid down by the Government.

My next point goes beyond this debate. We must restore people's confidence in the safety of our nuclear industry. We have a nuclear industry and we must ensure that next time there is an accident it does not involve a British reactor. Confidence has been so badly dented by the Government's handling of the aftermath of Chernobyl —no one suggests that the Government are to blame for the accident—that the only way to restore confidence is by setting up a public inquiry. It would be simple for the Minister to say, "We should have a public inquiry to sort out what is true and what is rumour." That inquiry should not only examine the actions of agencies, Government Departments and environmental groups; it should provide a code of conduct setting out exactly what needs to be done if such an accident happens again. We need a plan for the future. The hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry) implied that there were lessons to be learned, and I am not sure that the Minister has learnt those lessons.

There are very few sheep in my constituency. However, like many other hon. Members, I represent many people who make their living out of producing food products. We must ensure that the general public are confident that the food produced in our factories is safe to eat. That is why I again ask the Minister to set up a public inquiry.

9.12 pm
Mr. Gary Waller (Keighley)

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry), with whose remarks I should like to associate myself, I wish to refer to Yorkshire. I do so in the full confidence that the order refers to restrictions throughout the United Kingdom.

The hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew) called for a public inquiry. The difficulty with any kind of inquiry is that it would reflect what has happened during the past week since the story appeared that, unbeknown to everyone, levels of caesium that could conceivably have been dangerous to human health had been discovered in Yorkshire. We are faced with a dilemma, because the more the Government and other agencies attempt to reassure people by providing information and carrying out inquiries and tests, the more people inevitably feel that there is a problem.

The test levels in this country are very conservative. It has been said that, if someone ate sheepmeat containing the levels of caesium to be found in Cumbria—I agree that we should certainly take precautions and monitor the movements of those sheep — the level of radioactivity that he would ingest would be similar to what he would experience if he went for a chest X-ray. It is right that, when such tests are carried out, there should be trigger levels which show when a level is above normal. However, it does not automatically mean that, because there is an abnormal level of radiation, there is a real danger to health.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will reassure both the House and those outside that the levels in Cumbria are considerably higher than those in other parts of the country, such as West and North Yorkshire.

Because the information is inevitably technical, there is a great deal of scope for misunderstanding. Indeed, constituents have sent me, through the post, potatoes and carrots that they have dug from their gardens which they think might be contaminated. It would be helpful if my right hon. Friend reassured everyone by confirming that no restrictions have been put upon vegetables in Cumbria, and that such restrictions have never been necessary. Indeed, the arguments for restrictions anywhere else in the country, including my constituency, are even less potent. I am glad to see my right hon. Friend nodding.

It is clear that panic stories will always be more newsworthy than stories that might offer reassurance. My constituents, like those of my hon. Friend the Member for Skipton and Ripon, have been level-headed about the whole affair. There are lessons to be learned, and I hope that we will learn them. There is no doubt that the Meteorological Office did not pick up the heavy rainfall in parts of Yorkshire. However, it should not be assumed that, therefore, there are dangers to health.

I hope that this debate will show people that they do not need to worry, that the level-headed attitude of my constituents is justified, and that indeed, it would have been wrong for restrictions to be imposed in other parts of the country in the way that they have been imposed in Cumbria.

9.17 pm
Mr. Geraint Howells (Ceredigion and Pembroke, North)

Last week we were privileged to debate the Scottish and Welsh orders. I was not surprised when hon. Members on both sides of the House united to support the Government and the orders. We are duty bound tonight —with respect to the hon. Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark)—to support the Government. It is a very serious problem.

I am a small hill farmer and have lived in Wales all my life. I understand the problems that have faced Welsh farmers. There are similar problems in the north of England and in Scotland. We owe a great deal to the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and to the scientists who were involved last year. We must realise that the problem — something that we had never previously experienced—came very suddenly. Everyone involved at the time did their very best.

I am aware that a few mistakes were made, understandably, on both sides. Of course, we could be critical of everyone involved, but I believe that, these few months later, we should in fact be paying tribute to the many people involved after the Chernobyl disaster.

I do not agree with what the hon. Member for South Shields said tonight. I am not interested in the telex or in what happened between the Minister and the hon. Gentleman. We have a serious problem on our hands. I have been asked many times by my constituents and others how long the restrictions will remain in force. Will it be 12 months, three years or five years? Some have suggested that it could be 100 years before the restrictions are lifted. Those are the questions in which the public are interested.

We are also interested in compensation. The majority of farmers have accepted the compensation that was paid to them, but it is more than likely that, for the first few months after the disaster, farmers who suffered were not adequately compensated. I hope that, when he replies to the debate, the Minister will assure the House that he will consider giving them better compensation.

Today and last week, I have listened to hon. Members talking about the lamb trade. I have been selling a few lambs lately, and this year the lamb trade is more buoyant than ever. It is improving every week. I have evidence of that from selling my own lambs.

Now and again, many of us who wear political hats of different shades say things that upset that trade. All of us who have said things that we should not have said about the Chernobyl disaster should think twice. The hon. Member for South Shields and other Labour Members may disagree with the Minister about trivial matters, but they should remember that there are more important things in life. We are duty bound to look after the sheep industry and the consumers. I beg Labour Members to reconsider what they plan to do later this evening. Let us support the Government on this occasion and ensure that the orders are carried through, to the benefit of everyone involved.

9.22 pm
Mr. Tim Boswell (Daventry)

The hon. Member for Ceredigion and Pembroke, North (Mr. Howells) spoke with great generosity. I am grateful to him, because at the time of the Chernobyl incident I was serving in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food as the special adviser to my right hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Jopling). The attack that has been launched by the Opposition is an attack on the competence or diligence of the scientists and officials who serve the Ministry, and I regret it. It is misconceived, and I am grateful for the opportunity to add my voice to resisting it.

I was interested in the figures given by the hon. Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark). It is always difficult to appraise figures given during a debate, but the 24,000 lambs that he mentioned could not have represented more than a small fraction of 1 per cent. of the total United Kingdom throughput of lamb. Indeed, it would be highly implausible if they did. To put it more vividly, the hon. Gentleman spoke about thousands of tonnes of lamb being contaminated. Even if we took the charitable interpretation—that only 1,000 tonnes of lamb had been contaminated — spread over 24,000 lambs, it would mean an average carcase weight of 40 kg per lamb. Of course, if it was more than 10,000 tonnes, there would be an average carcase weight of 400 kg per lamb. In neither case could the lambs have qualified for certification under the sheep variable premium.

The Opposition are engaged — we have seen earlier signs of it, but it has now come to a head—in pursuit of what I call a pastoral fantasy, or Marie Antoinette politics, in which there should be one dosimeter to every sheep in the country and one radiac meter stationed in every field, no living thing can have a single becquerel in it, and there must be a public inquiry every month. If Opposition Members found themselves in the Garden of Eden, they would immediately demand a recount. However, these are serious matters and I want briefly to leave some thoughts with my right hon. Friend for him to answer tonight or later.

My first point concerns the ingestion of foliage by sheep and the eating of those sheep by humans at the end of the food chain, which means that radioactive material goes into the body and forms part of the digestive tract. That is different from an application of radiation from an external source such as an X-ray. I am satisfied that the effect is slight, but I want the Ministeris reassurance, as there have been recent recommendations of a reduction in exposure to radiation in general.

Secondly, I want the Minister to say something about the current research into the expansion of the nationwide coverage of radiation monitoring by local district authorities. What steps can be taken, and how far has knowledge been expanded on the issue, to eliminate caesium in the peat and foliage that is eaten by hill sheep, so that their exposure can be reduced?

Will my right hon. Friend say something about the European situation? I well remember playing a part in the European draft orders, and I want to know that the Minister is still maintaining the British position on the basis of scientific and objective evidence rather than some politically driven alternative.

Farmers have not featured much in the debate, but will my right hon. Friend say something about farmers who are still in this position? Although not from the same part of the country, I am a farmer and I can well imagine the distress and inconvenience that they have felt, which is not helped by the promulgation of scare stories. I want an assurance that there will be continuing support for farmers for as long as it takes to work out the problem.

Any Government faced with an unprecedented problem such as this have two duties: to be vigilant, and not to be alarmist. The Government have discharged those reasonably. No country was better prepared to handle the problem, and no country in Europe handled it better.

9.28 pm
Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

The hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Boswell) set out to justify advice that he gave Ministers a year and a half ago. Our view is that the advice that he gave them at that time was wrong.

Mr. Boswell

On a point of clarification, the hon. Gentleman knows that I am not a scientist and I certainly would not have presumed to give technical advice to Ministers; nor would it have been proper for me to refer in the Chamber to advice that I might have given Ministers on that or any other occasion.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

The hon. Gentleman referred to himself as a special adviser to Ministers, from which I perhaps drew the wrong conclusions.

I want to draw attention to two areas in which the Government have been negligent. The first arises from the time that elapsed following the incident that took place at 1.24 am on Saturday 26 April 1986, when the explosion took place at Chernobyl. On 28 April, the Swedes were carrying out routine environmental monitoring following the triggering of high levels of radiation. They at once advised many of their farmers to take immediate action. The information held by the Swedes was communicated to most of western Europe. There are Ministers on the Front Bench who know that that information was made available to the British Government that weekend.

No farmer in Cumbria in the areas that were subsequently to be restricted was ever advised about action to remove his lambs from the fells. No action was taken in the United Kingdom on Monday or on Tuesday, although by that time the radioactive plume was being carried across Europe. I understand that on Tuesday evening the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food started the sampling of fresh milk in the southern counties of Britain. Farmers in Cumbria were still not being told to remove their lambs from the fells or not to take them to market.

On Wednesday and Thursday there was still no advice to farmers in Cumbria. By Friday the radioactive plume had reached the south-east of England and the Ministry requested regular updates from the Meteorological Office on the plume's trajectory and on rainfall data. By that time sampling had been extended to cover vegetation, but still no action was taken relative to sheep farmers in Cumbria. I presume that by that time experts would have known that there would be damage to the fells, to the higher parts of Wales, to the constituency of the hon. Member for Ceredigion and Pembroke, North (Mr. Howells) and to parts of England—certainly to the Lake District.

On the Saturday afternoon I was in my garden. In effect it is on the side of a fell, because I live at the bottom of Laterigg in the Lake District. It was a warm day with fairly heavy rainfall. That can be checked. That was Chernobyl rain that was falling, but no one had been alerted and there were no warnings. That was a week after the Chernobyl disaster but farmers in the county had still not been warned, and it was only on the following day that it was suggested that there might well have been some rainfall in the county that had implications for farming on the fells. There was no action for a further month.

Questions were asked in Parliament, and that brings me to the second point of negligence that I lay at the Government's door. Farmers became worried about whether they would be compensated. The hon. Member for Ceredigion and Pembroke, North is a farmer. Does he remember farmers asking him at that time whether they would ever be compensated? Sheep farmers are the lowest paid farmers in the United Kingdom. Hill farmers in the Lake District are certainly badly paid.

During that time, lamb was finding its way to the market. Nearly seven weeks later, on 20 June, a Minister announced to the Commons that the Government would be prepared to consider compensation. He did not say that the Government would pay compensation, but that they would consider it. That further aggravated the insecurity in farming communities, certainly in the county of Cumbria, about whether any compensation would be paid. The hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean) shakes his head. Does he deny that during that month he was called to a meeting and asked about the principle of compensation? Does he deny that worries over compensation by farmers in my constituency were expressed to him? He could nod to the Minister and the Minister could come to the Dispatch Box and deny it for him.

In the second half of July, I was asked to come to a meeting of fell farmers in my constituency. I think it was in a farm house in the Newlands valley in the fells. A number of fell farmers turned up, and the conversation that went on for about one and a half hours was only about whether they would be compensated and the form that that compensation might take. Indeed, the farmers repeatedly referred to bankruptcy and what would happen to their livelihoods. People at the meeting spoke about giving up farming because they had not received assurances that they would be compensated.

I was given a document at that meeting and a week later had an appointment with the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in his Whitehall office. I made representations about the case put to me during that meeting with the farmers. It was not until a few days later that a further statement was made which, to some extent, gave the farmers some satisfaction. Even so, the farmers expressed their concern throughout August.

I believe that in the first week after the Chernobyl incident, Cumbrian farmers should have been alerted and they should have been advised to remove their stock from the fells which were to become contaminated because other farmers were advised to take such action in other parts of western Europe. I also believe that the principle of compensation should have been established from day one.

On 19 March I asked: Will the Minister give an undertaking that no hill farm producer of lamb whose farm has been subject to contamination as a result of the Chernobyl incident will lose money?" — [Official Report, 19 March 1987; Vol. 112, c. 1025.] The Minister should not have equivocated and turned his reply into one of his cynical little jokes or a hysterical speech about the need for me to admit that farmers were getting a better deal in the United Kingdom. He should have given me an undertaking that farmers would be fully compensated for every loss, so that farmers' minds could have been put at ease.

I raised those questions a week and a half after the incident took place. I have been asking those questions for a long time and that is why farmers are concerned in Cumbria and why, at the end of the day, lamb leaked on to the market in the way described by my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark).

9.36 pm
Mr. Ron Davies (Caerphilly)

This is the third debate that we have had in as many weeks dealing with the consequences of Chernobyl. I particularly want to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) for his glowing testimony. It warmed the cockles of my heart. He described his reminiscences of the exact sequence of events.

It is important for hon. Members to realise that we all bring individual points of view to bear on this subject. In many ways the debate has been overshadowed by a remarkable contribution from the Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food who opened the debate and who will reply. His contribution was remarkable and I hope that in retrospect he will appreciate that it was not a fitting contribution. He dwelt at great length, and with unusually colourful language, even for him, on details about the radio interview that he had this morning with my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark). He also referred to a telex, the parentage of which I gather he disputes. More of the radio interview and the telex later; I want to make one or two points first.

The hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Boswell), as I understand it, said that he had been a special adviser to the Minister in his previous incarnation. He subsequently denied that when challenged by my hon. Friend the Member for Workington.

Mr. Boswell

Will the hon. Gentleman accept that the normal understanding of the role of a special adviser, and the position that I filled, is one who advises on political, not scientific, matters? The substance of this was essentially a scientific judgment.

Mr. Frank Cook

What does that mean?

Mr. Davies

My hon. Friend the Member for Stockton, North (Mr. Cook) wants to know what that means, and so do I. "The Times Guide to the House of Commons" account, which is no doubt based on information provided by the hon. Gentleman, refers to him as a farmer and a special adviser to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food between 1984 and 1986.I suggest that if the hon. Gentleman wishes to challenge the accuracy of that, he should take it up with the editors of that book. He acknowledges that he was a special adviser. I respectfully suggest that he should now recognise that he is no longer a special adviser; he is merely a politician like the rest of us, and, as a politician, he has to make political judgments. It does no good for him to leap to the defence of his erstwhile colleagues by saying that we are being unkind to civil servants. We are not being unkind to civil servants; we are exercising a political choice and engaging in a political debate with the Minister of State because there are points of substance on which we differ.

At the heart of our case lies the question of the competence of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food particularly the relationship which exists between that Ministry and other Government Departments. I understand the concern of the hon. Member for Ceredigion and Pembroke, North (Mr. Howells), because my hon. Friends and I do not want to do anything to destroy the confidence of consumers or producers. The hon. Gentleman will understand that we have been careful about the language that we have used in this debate and in previous debates as we do not wish to upset that confidence.

The essence of the Minister's contribution was that he made assertions. He said on three occasions that there were no contaminated lambs offered to market. That statement was an assertion and was the basis of the Minister's case. How on earth can the Minister possibly make that assertion? How can he say that there were no contaminated lambs offered to market? If he can come to the Dispatch Box and say that he and his Department monitored every lamb that went to market, and every lamb was below the action levels, we would accept that his assertion was based on some evidence. However, it has no justification, and the Minister is merely making a bold assertion.

I remind the Minister and the hon. Member for Ceredigion and Pembroke, North that the scheme is a voluntary one. It is not compulsory. The success of the scheme depends on the willingness of sheep producers to ring the Ministry and ask it to conduct examinations and monitor the lambs which they propose to sell. If I were to say to the hon. Member for Ceredigion and Pembroke, North that that offers the opportunity for abuse, he will know what I mean.

Mr. Geraint Howells


Mr. Davies

I am sure that if the hon. Gentleman reflects and has some discussion with his colleagues further north in the Principality, he will realise what I mean.

Mr. Howells


Mr. Davies

The Minister will know from contact with his advisers that, to say the least, he was ill-advised in saying that no contaminated lambs have gone to market.

We should acknowledge the central role that MAFF has played in the events of the past 18 months. The Minister would have us believe that it was of no consequence because the number of lambs involved was so small and the action level of radioactivity was so slight that it did not really matter so long as one did not eat lamb every day for a year. He was so satisfied with the safeguards that he was encouraging his pregnant wife to eat lamb. That was unwise of the Minister, because the order sets out penalties for those who breach the regulations. I think that the Minister will be well advised to respond to some particular questions. If he wishes to engage in frolics with his hon. Friend, I suggest he does it at a later stage.

The order that we are debating — against which Opposition Members will vote this evening—lays down the penalties — an unlimited fine or up to two years' imprisonment—for anyone who does not comply with the regulations. In the light of that, the Minister would be well advised to recognise the importance of the issue. I wish to put three points to him. The first I will refer to as the Yorkshire case. The essence of the Governments response to the recent discovery of a hot spot in Yorkshire was that they dismissed it as a matter of no consequence because they had it all under control anyway. Apparently a small patch of heather moorland had been burnt and therefore had more than usually acidic soils which released the radio-caesium into the cycle.

The Minister must tell the House why it was that not until subsequent questioning of the Meteorological Office gave an indication of the exceptionally heavy rainfall that his Department took an interest in the events in Yorkshire and in the discovery of the hot spot. It is fair to ask the Minister what discussions he had with the Meteorological Office during the period of heavy rain following Chernobyl which brought the radioactive cloud to Britain and washed it down into the earth. I think that we are entitled to know the relationship between MAFF and the Meteorological Office or, more properly, its sponsoring Department, the Ministry of Defence.

I have mentioned the Ministry of Defence. Can the Minister tell the House the role played by other Government Departments? As I understand it, the Department of the Environment has a responsibility. Certainly the Department of Trade and Industry has a responsibility. Certainly the Department of Health and Social Security has an involvement. So, too, does the Department of Energy. The Home Office has an involvement. In the case of Scotland and Wales, their Home Departments have a responsibility.

Yet the Minister would have us believe that, despite all the resources, all the scientific advice and all the staff that these Departments of State had, it required my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields, in an interview with the Yorkshire Post, to bring it to his attention. That is the worst example of reactive government—waiting until a problem is drawn to their attention. Then the Minister gave us an overreaction.

As to the telex, I had a brief discussion with the Minister behind your Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker. He has now acknowledged the existence of the radiochemical inspectorate. I understand that he denied its existence in an earlier exchange with my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields.

Mention has been made of the telex, and I think it is worth commenting on it. The telex is addressed to the chief scientist of the radio-chemical inspectorate. That inspectorate, established by legislation in 1960, is required to table annual reports to Parliament. The chief scientist of the radio-chemical inspectorate received the telex on 5 May. It says: We have reliable information indicating the following as of 5 May 1986. The telex refers to alpha emitters having been detected at not insignificant levels.

So we note that as early as 5 May 1986 the Government were aware of that. That is being charitable to the Minister and assumes that all the other Departments of State, with all their resources, had not identified the problem. But we know that the Department of the Environment was informed on 5 May because concern was being expressed to the Government's chief scientist in the radio-chemical inspectorate. Yet seven weeks elapsed before the Government took action.

There may be a dispute between the Minister and my hon. Friend about the size of lambs which went to market. There is no doubt that on the figures produced and submitted to the House by the Meat and Livestock Commission, about 25,000 fat lambs were taken to market for slaughter and were introduced into the food chain during that seven-week period, yet the public were denied the protection that they should have been given by the Minister.

Whatever else the Minister does or does not answer, I hope that he will acknowledge the existence of the radio-chemical inspectorate and that he will refer to the fact that it is the responsibility of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. Therein lies the heart of the Minister's problem. He has to have discussions with other Departments of State. The attitude of the Department of the Environment was summed up earlier this year, and in 1986, in statements by two of his hon. Friends following the Chernobyl incident. The first was on 9 May, when the Minister of State said: The problems from radiation would diminish almost completely over the next few days. He asserted 18 months ago, that the problem would diminish in a few days.

Four days later, the Secretary of State for the Environment went one better. On 13 May, he said: As long as there are no further discharges from Chernobyl, the incident may be regarded as over for this country by the end of the week".—[Official Report, 13 May 1986; Vol. 97, c. 569.] Eighteen months ago, the Secretary of State for the Environment gave an assurance to the House that the matter would be over in a few weeks, in full knowledge of the fact that contaminated meat was getting into the food chain.

The substance of the Minister's argument this evening has been that the 1,000 bq/kg level is an action level. He said that he would take action as soon as any food was contaminated above that level. That comes a bit odd from a Minister whose colleague, three weeks ago, was trying to persuade us that the 1,000 bq/kg level was much too low. He tried to persuade the House that we should have a 5,000 bq/kg level. We are entitled to some consistency from the Minister of State.

Mr. Gummer

Come on.

Mr. Davies

I understand the Minister's concern, but he took an extraordinary length of time to develop his argument. Let me draw his attention to an article which appeared in The Guardian on 19 November. It said: Workers exposed to radiation have been warned that new evidence shows that they are twice or three times as likely to develop fatal cancers than was previously thought. That warning came from the National Radiological Protection Board.

Given the wealth of evidence about the increasing understanding of the problems of radioactivity and the increasing concern about the problems of contamination, I hope that the Minister will realise that the level of communication between his officials and other Government Departments is inadequate. He is asking the House to support the order. To get that support, the Minister has to prove his case. He has not done so, and we shall vote against the order.

9.53 pm
Mr. Gummer

With the leave of the House, I should like to try to reply to the debate. The hon. Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) has made the serious allegation that fat lambs which were seriously contaminated got into the food chain without the protection that the Government claimed to provide. In that sense, he is warning people that they may have been endangered by what happened. They were not endangered. Under this measure, the Government will continue to ensure that they are never endangered.

At the beginning of the debate, I challenged the hon. Member for South Shields to deny that this morning he had clearly misled the nation by saying: Certainly I think the general population was probably basically all right, but for the 'at risk' group it's very worrying —pregnant people, young children etc. He suggested on the radio that young people and pregnant women who ate lamb should be worried. That is wholly untrue and he knows it. It is an outrageous slur and the fact that he could not reply to it shows both his own bankruptcy and the outrageous way in which he behaved his morning.

Dr. David Clark

The Minister made some serious allegations, but there is one simple way to prove or disprove the matter. As the Minister and the House know, every person who is in possession of a sheep has to keep a sheep movement book. Why does the Minister not call in every sheep movement book in existence? Conservative Members may frown, but it is on this basis that we get our subsidies. I challenge the Minister to investigate every sheep movement book and then we can look at them publicly and see exactly where all the sheep movements in Cumbria were. As has been said, that would prove it once and for all.

Mr. Gummer

The hon. Member for South Shields said that thousands of tonnes of contaminated sheepmeat got into the food chain. He knows that that is untrue. He cannot prove it and he is now flapping about trying to find some answer for the — I use the words advisedly — disgraceful behaviour of his hon. Friends and himself in the House and this morning on radio.

The hon. Member for South Shields is trying to make so much fuss because he knows he has let the farmers down, he has let his party down and he has denied what his predecessor, the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Mr. John), said the whole time. It is within the House's memory that the hon. Member for Pontypridd was most careful to follow the advice of the hon. Member for Ceredigion and Pembroke, North (Mr. Howells).

We all agreed that we would tell the truth directly and give the figures as quickly as we could, but on no occasion would we seek to use the natural fears of the people for party political purposes. The hon. Member for Pontypridd held loyally and decently to that. The hon. Member for South Shields has let himself down on this occasion. The House knows it, and no amount of baa-ing from the Opposition Benches will cover up that fact.

The hon. Member for South Shields said that he had a telex in his hand that came from the chief scientist of the radiochemical institute. It turned out that that telex was sent to the chief scientist of the radiochemical inspectorate. That is what happened. The hon. Gentleman said the opposite—I have the transcript before me—and the hon. Gentleman was wrong. That telex came from an organisation that advises those local authorities that are opposed to nuclear power. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah!"]

The hon. Member for South Shields said that we have the highest action level in Europe. However, he failed to mention that the only two other countries in Europe that have problems with meat are Sweden, which has an action level of 1,500 bq/kg—500 bq/kg higher than ours—and Norway, which has an action level of 6,000 bq/kg.

The hon. Member for South Shields has sought to use false facts and a serious misstatement about the telex to try to lead people astray and to frighten them. My hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Boswell) made that clear and he was right to do so.

I assure my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr.Waller) that his constituents are quite right not to be worried about any radiation that occurred in that area from the Chernobyl disaster. My hon. Friend the Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry) is correct to say that it is the duty of the press to report all that has been said in this debate——

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Get the books in.

Mr. Gummer

The scare stories that have been spread by Opposition Members are totally false.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Gummer

No, I have only two minutes to go.

The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) cast a considerable slur on my hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean). At no time was he told by his farmers that they were trying to avoid the system. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman for Workington must accept that that is also a terrible slur on British farmers.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Let the record show that I never said what the Minister has attributed to me.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

That is not a point of order.

Mr. Gummer

The hon. Member for Workington——

Mr. Frank Cook


Mr. Gummer

No, I will not give way, as I only have a minute to go. The hon. Member for Workington showed the close attention that he pays to sheep rearing when he suggested——

Mr. Frank Cook

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Minister has informed the House that he has only one minute to go. Will you tell the House whether that is an accurate statement?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The debate can go on until 11.30 pm, but I get the distinct impression that both sides of the House want to come to a fairly quick conclusion.

Mr. Gummer

The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) also suggested that the farmers of Cumbria should have been warned that they should take their sheep from the fells. I wonder what the hon. Gentleman thought that they would do with those thousands of sheep. Perhaps they could have put them in the garden where the hon. Gentleman was at the time. What point is there in warning farmers to do something that they could not possibly do, and which would do no good anyway?

The hon. Member for Workington asked about compensation. I merely refer him to the hon. Member for Ceredigion and Pembroke, North, who feels that the compensation arrangements were, in general, suitable and proper in the circumstances. However, we shall certainly look at any particular cases that the hon. Gentleman raises.

The truth is that Opposition Members have to shout from a seated position, because they know perfectly well that they have been caught out in scaremongering, dangerous talk, attacking the farmers and the people of Britain. The hon. Member for South Shields has not had the courtesy to apologise to the House, the farmers and the nation.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 219, Noes 135.

Division No. 83] [10 pm
Alexander, Richard Butterfill, John
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Allason, Rupert Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Amess, David Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Amos, Alan Carrington, Matthew
Arbuthnot, James Carttiss, Michael
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Chapman, Sydney
Ashby, David Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Ashdown, Paddy Colvin, Michael
Aspinwall, Jack Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Atkins, Robert Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Couchman, James
Batiste, Spencer Cran, James
Beith, A. J. Critchley, Julian
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bevan, David Gilroy Curry, David
Blackburn, Dr John G. Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Body, Sir Richard Davis, David (Boothferry)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Day, Stephen
Boswell, Tim Devlin, Tim
Bottomley, Peter Dover, Den
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Dunn, Bob
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Durant, Tony
Bowis, John Emery, Sir Peter
Brazier, Julian Evennett, David
Bright, Graham Fairbairn, Nicholas
Brown, Michael (Brigg S Cl't's) Fallon, Michael
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Favell, Tony
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Fenner, Dame Peggy
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Buck, Sir Antony Fookes, Miss Janet
Burns, Simon Forman, Nigel
Burt, Alistair Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Butcher, John Forth, Eric
Butler, Chris Fox, Sir Marcus
Franks, Cecil Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Freeman, Roger Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
French, Douglas Mates, Michael
Fry, Peter Maude, Hon Francis
Gill, Christopher Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Goodhart, Sir Philip Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Goodlad, Alastair Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Gow, Ian Moate, Roger
Gower, Sir Raymond Monro, Sir Hector
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Greenway, John (Rydale) Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Gregory, Conal Moynihan, Hon C.
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Neale, Gerrard
Ground, Patrick Nelson, Anthony
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Neubert, Michael
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Newton, Tony
Hanley, Jeremy Nicholls, Patrick
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Onslow, Cranley
Harris, David Oppenheim, Phillip
Haselhurst, Alan Page, Richard
Hawkins, Christopher Patnick, Irvine
Hayes, Jerry Patten, Chris (Bath)
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hayward, Robert Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Heathcoat-Amory, David Porter, David (Waveney)
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Portillo, Michael
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Raffan, Keith
Hind, Kenneth Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Redwood, John
Holt, Richard Renton, Tim
Howard, Michael Rhodes James, Robert
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Riddick, Graham
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Howells, Geraint Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Roe, Mrs Marion
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Rowe, Andrew
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Ryder, Richard
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Sayeed, Jonathan
Irvine, Michael Shaw, David (Dover)
Jack, Michael Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Jackson, Robert Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Janman, Timothy Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Soames, Hon Nicholas
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Speed, Keith
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Speller, Tony
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Kirkhope, Timothy Steel, Rt Hon David
Kirkwood, Archy Steen, Anthony
Knapman, Roger Stevens, Lewis
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Knowles, Michael Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Knox, David Temple-Morris, Peter
Lang, Ian Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Latham, Michael Thorne, Neil
Lawrence, Ivan Thurnham, Peter
Lee, John (Pendle) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Trippier, David
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Twinn, Dr Ian
Lightbown, David Waddington, Rt Hon David
Lilley, Peter Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Livsey, Richard Wallace, James
Lord, Michael Waller, Gary
Lyell, Sir Nicholas Wells, Bowen
Macfarlane, Neil Wheeler, John
McLoughlin, Patrick Widdecombe, Miss Ann
McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Wood, Timothy
McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Malins, Humfrey Tellers for the Ayes:
Mans, Keith Mr. Stephen Dorrell and Mr. David Maclean.
Maples, John
Marland, Paul
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Litherland, Robert
Allen, Graham Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Anderson, Donald Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Loyden, Eddie
Armstrong, Ms Hilary McAllion, John
Ashton, Joe McAvoy, Tom
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) McCartney, Ian
Battle, John McFall, John
Beckett, Margaret McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Bermingham, Gerald McKelvey, William
Bidwell, Sydney McLeish, Henry
Blair, Tony McWilliam, John
Boateng, Paul Madden, Max
Boyes, Roland Mahon, Mrs Alice
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Marek, Dr John
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Martin, Michael (Springburn)
Buckley, George Martlew, Eric
Caborn, Richard Maxton, John
Callaghan, Jim Meale, Alan
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Clay, Bob Morgan, Rhodri
Cohen, Harry Morley, Elliott
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Morris, Rt Hon J (Aberavon)
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Mowlam, Mrs Marjorie
Corbyn, Jeremy Mullin, Chris
Cousins, Jim Murphy, Paul
Crowther, Stan Nellist, Dave
Cryer, Bob O'Brien, William
Cummings, J. O'Neill, Martin
Cunliffe, Lawrence Patchett, Terry
Cunningham, Dr John Pendry, Tom
Dalyell, Tam Pike, Peter
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Prescott, John
Dewar, Donald Primarolo, Ms Dawn
Dixon, Don Quin, Ms Joyce
Douglas, Dick Redmond, Martin
Duffy, A. E. P. Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Dunnachie, James Reid, John
Eadie, Alexander Richardson, Ms Jo
Eastham, Ken Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Robertson, George
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Rogers, Allan
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Rowlands, Ted
Flannery, Martin Ruddock, Ms Joan
Foster, Derek Short, Clare
Galloway, George Skinner, Dennis
Godman, Dr Norman A. Soley, Clive
Golding, Mrs Llin Steinberg, Gerald
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Stott, Roger
Heffer, Eric S. Strang, Gavin
Henderson, Douglas Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Hinchliffe, David Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Home Robertson, John Wall, Pat
Hood, James Walley, Ms Joan
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Wareing, Robert N.
Hoyle, Doug Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Winnick, David
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Illsley, Eric Worthington, Anthony
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Wray, James
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Lamond, James Tellers for the Noes:
Leadbitter, Ted Mr. Frank Haynes and Mr. Alun Michael.
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eccles)
Lewis, Terry

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the Food Protection (Emergency Prohibitions) (England) Order 1987 (S.I., 1987, No. 1893), dated 5th November 1987, a copy of which was laid before this House on 5th November, be approved.