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FOOT & MOUTH : 'GOVERNMENT MUST BE ACCOUNTABLE TO A PUBLIC INQUIRY'

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Following Margaret Beckett's refusal to hold a full public inquiry into the ...
Following Margaret Beckett's refusal to hold a full public inquiry into the

foot and mouth crisis, Tim Yeo, shadow secretary for environment, food

and rural affairs, said:

'The inquiry process announced today (see LGCnet) falls far short of our call for a

public inquiry which would rebuild public confidence and ensure people that

the full facts of Labour's initial dithering have been uncovered and

properly scrutinized.

'Had action been taken more promptly and effectively at the start of the

epidemic, the disease could have been brought under control much more

quickly saving many of the over three million animals already slaughtered, and

much of the estimated£3bn cost to the taxpayer.

'Only a full, independent, public inquiry will hold former ministers to

account and uncover the full facts about this terrible epidemic.'

Notes

Conservatives have laid out what they believe the terms of reference for a

public inquiry should be:

- To inquire into the circumstances leading to the foot and mouth disease

epidemic in the United Kingdom.

- To inquire into the evidence available to indicate the presence of the

foot and mouth virus in the United Kingdom prior to February 19, 2001, and

its introduction to the United Kingdom livestock herd and responses made to

such evidence.

- To inquire into the measures taken to contain and eradicate foot and mouth

disease following notification of the first case on February 19, 2001, and

in particular:

- The application of lessons learned from past outbreaks;

- The effectiveness of the deployment of scientific and veterinary

resources;

- The speed and effectiveness with which containment measures were deployed,

including military and other resources.

- To inquire into the economic and agricultural impacts of the disease, the

effectiveness of resources taken to mitigate losses, and of the further

measures taken to re-establish agricultural, tourist and other affected

businesses.

- To examine the roles of ministers, officials in government departments,

the ministry of defence and the armed services, agencies, and

representatives of interests affected, including the co-ordination of policy

and action, and the effectiveness and timeliness of decision-making.

- To consider such other issues relating to the outbreak of foot and mouth

disease as necessary.

- To present a report to the prime minister by March 2002, indicating if

further inquiries are necessary, and making appropriate recommendations.

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