HC Deb 16 November 2000 vol 356 cc1063-4
11. Mr. Russell Brown (Dumfries)

What steps he is taking to implement the recommendations of the BSE inquiry report. [137144]

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Nick Brown)

The Government are studying the report's findings with care, and looking closely at the lessons that flow from them. Some of the issues have already been addressed through the creation of the new Food Standards Agency, the appointment of consumer representatives to advisory committees, the placing of scientific advice in the public domain and the switch from deregulation to better regulation. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and I also announced on 26 October that there will be a new national fund for the care of variant CJD victims and financial arrangements to benefit sufferers and their families.

The Government's substantive response to each of Lord Phillips' points will be published in the coming months and the House will have an opportunity to debate the report in Government time. I promise that I will provide the House with an update on progress before the end of the year.

Mr. Russell Brown

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer, especially the reference to better regulation. Will he confirm that the very culture of deregulation under successive Tory Governments made it much more difficult to ensure that important protection measures were enforced? Is it not obvious from the recent comments of the Leader of the Opposition about bonfires of food safety regulations that these people have just not understood and learned the lessons of BSE?

Mr. Brown

The whole culture of calling for bonfires of regulations rather than for better regulations is wrong. That is the view of the Government; it is also the view of Lord Phillips. In the report, Lord Phillips makes some very sharp points about those who harass public regulators when they are trying to do an important job to protect animal health, particularly—in the case of BSE—when there are important human health implications.

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