23 December 2002

Stevenson Criticises Government Over Foot & Mouth Report

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has accused the Government of trying to rewrite history over its failed attempt to water down a report from the European Parliament which was highly critical of its handling of last year's foot and mouth outbreak.

The cross-party report from the European Parliament was adopted by an overwhelming majority of MEPs (481 for, 32 against) in Strasbourg.

It concluded that the UK Government's handling of the crisis had traumatised farmers, broken animal welfare laws, and generated miles of unnecessary red tape, and that burning pyres and mass burial sites damaged the environment and people's health.

Commenting on the report, Mr Stevenson said:

“I think there is general agreement among most neutral observers that the outbreak of Foot & Mouth disease last year could have been handled far better by the then Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food.

“UK Labour MEPs were the only ones to vote against the report and that was because they were instructed to do so by London in an attempt to rewrite history.

“It is vital that we avoid at all costs the circumstances which could lead to another outbreak of Foot & Mouth disease which so devastated the farming industry last year and had huge knock-on effects in those areas, such as the North-east, which were free from the disease. Any contribution which analyses where procedures fell down and how the situation could have been handled better is therefore to be welcomed.

“I hope that DEFRA and the Scottish Executive draw some useful lessons from this report.”

Stewart Stevenson
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