HC Deb 23 March 1995 vol 257 c476
12. Mr. Skinner

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent tests have been taken in the Bolsover area regarding levels of dioxins in milk; and if he will make a statement. [13887]

Mrs. Browning

The Ministry sampled milk from the Bolsover area in July 1994 and I announced the results of dioxins testing on 20 October 1994. We will take further samples this year.

Mr. Skinner

Will the new team of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food take a fresh look at the matter? In the past several years, high levels of dioxins have occurred not only in milk but in the River Doe Lea—about 1,000 times above the safety level—and in the atmosphere, and we now have the alarming news that dioxin has been found in the blood of some workers at Coalite. In view of those facts, will the Ministry now hold the public inquiry that was refused years ago? I am sure that if such conditions applied anywhere near Buckingham palace there would have been a public inquiry years ago.

Mrs. Browning

The hon. Gentleman has rightly brought the matter to the attention of the House on many occasions. I cannot this afternoon give him an assurance of a public inquiry. The health of the workers at Coalite is subject to an independent Government committee on toxicity and its findings will be passed to the Health and Safety Executive, which will then consider whether further action is needed. I am keen to hear the hon. Gentleman's further views on the matter and, if he would find it helpful, I would be pleased to see him at the Ministry to discuss it in more detail.