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Mr. Breed: Has any consideration been given to burial at sea?

Mr. Meacher: As far as I know, we have not considered burial at sea, but I doubt that it would be environmentally acceptable.

The hon. Member for South Suffolk (Mr. Yeo) misunderstood on several counts. It is true that the series of figures on the website was discontinued for a short time in the first half of April. It was reintroduced on Good Friday and has continued ever since. The hon. Gentleman was right to say that the reduction in the number of animals awaiting disposal represented a catching-up exercise by the regional centres in recording the numbers that had been disposed of. That has allowed more accurate figures to be published. I am sure that he has a suspicious mind and is assuming, although he did not say so, that we are fiddling the figures. Perhaps that was such a common occurrence under the previous Government that he assumes that we are doing the same, but we are not.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned contiguous farms. In a slaughter-on-suspicion case, all susceptible livestock on the premises are slaughtered, but we do not cull on contiguous premises until we get the lab results. If the results are negative, a form B is served and restrictions are lifted, but of course no livestock are left on the farm. If the results are positive, we convert the slaughter- on-suspicion status to a confirmed case and then cull on the contiguous premises.

25 Apr 2001 : Column 364

Mr. Burnett: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Meacher: I am running into extra time and I do not want to get to a penalty shoot-out, but since the hon. Gentleman is a Liberal Democrat, I will give way.

Mr. Burnett: Will the Minister help the House and my constituents by stating how many carcases remain to be disposed of in Devon and how many the Ministry stated were awaiting disposal yesterday?

Mr. Meacher: I cannot provide those figures now, but we will provide more accurate and up-to-date figures. The latest figures available indicate that the number is substantially below 175,000. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture will deal with that point tomorrow.

Mr. Bradshaw: Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Meacher: I am sorry, but I really cannot because I still have a few remarks to make and we are running into the time for the next debate.

The lifting of restrictions in surveillance zones is covered by EU rules, and the procedures that we are following to lift infected area status reflect veterinary advice based on draft EU directives on foot and mouth.

My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) gave a constructive, fair and reasonable speech such as we have come to expect from him. He spoke of the financial assistance that he wants the Government to provide. I shall not detain the House now by giving the details of our £220 million package, but I will say more about two or three of the specific measures that he mentioned. We are prepared favourably to consider the averaging of profits to reduce tax, provided that it is understood that it may well turn out to be less helpful than many people expect. The same goes for the job retention proposal. We would need to seek agreement from the Department of Social Security that rather than paying benefits to people who are made redundant, the money should be used to keep people in work if possible. We are considering whether that is possible and consistent with the general social security framework.

I want to pay a compliment to the Cumbria taskforce. When I visited the county, I was very impressed by its work and by the practicality and range of its proposals. I hope that there will be further such proposals. I am always very glad to see my hon. Friend at those meetings.

The right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry) referred to the £12,000 rateable value threshold, but if I cannot have his attention, I will not go on. [Interruption.] I do not have time now, but later I will tell the right hon. Gentleman what I was going to say.

My hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Bradshaw) asked about taking the carcases in Devon elsewhere. We are considering that because it is a better alternative than pyres if we can find a method of doing so that is environmentally acceptable. We are giving short-term help to businesses to get back customers. We are stepping up the pressure on local authorities to open their footpaths and facilities. I made that point again to the Local Government Association at the rural taskforce meeting this morning.

25 Apr 2001 : Column 365

Unhappily, the hon. Member for Southport (Mr. Fearn) made his valedictory speech to the House on tourism. The Government have just extended mandatory 50 per cent. rate relief to pubs, garages and village shops. On Monday, we will have the Second Reading of a Bill to extend it further. On extra tourist grants, I can say that the Government have already made available £6 million to the English Tourism Council for the tourist boards. As the hon. Gentleman said, we have given £2 million to the British Tourist Authority, and we are taking its advice about what more is needed. Last week, we had a very successful visit from travel operators from the United States and other key markets. That cost about £100,000, and the BTA said this morning that it thinks that its benefits already run into tens of millions of pounds.

The hon. Member for Truro and St. Austell painted a picture of decline, but I must point out that many villages and small settlements depend on rural post offices. The hon. Gentleman neglected to say that the Government have made available £270 million to prevent all avoidable rural post office closures. That is an important commitment. I agree with him that the foot and mouth disaster is an opportunity for change, and that is why we will be introducing a new package not only to kick-start the rural economy but to tackle the whole question of the future of agriculture.

I apologise for the length of my speech, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Government will take on board all the points that have been made. I have no doubt that there will be further discussions about the issue. We are determined not only to eradicate the disease in this country as soon as possible but to regenerate and revivify the rural economy in a manner that we have not seen for many decades.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:--

The House divided: Ayes 43, Noes 305.

Division No. 195
[7.9 pm


Allan, Richard
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Baker, Norman
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Breed, Colin
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Chidgey, David
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Fearn, Ronnie
Foster, Don (Bath)
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gidley, Sandra
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Kirkwood, Archy
Livsey, Richard
McCrea, Dr William
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Oaten, Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Rendel, David
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Salmond, Alex
Sanders, Adrian
Stunell, Andrew
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tyler, Paul
Webb, Steve
Willis, Phil

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Bob Russell and
Sir Robert Smith.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Beggs, Roy
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Borrow, David
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chaytor, David
Church, Ms Judith
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Corbett, Robin
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, David
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Dawson, Hilton
Denham, Rt Hon John
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ennis, Jeff
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kingham, Ms Tess
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle
(B'ham Yardley)
Morris, Rt Hon Sir John (Aberavon)
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Pearson, Ian
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prosser, Gwyn
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Rt Hon Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Rogers, Allan
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thompson, William
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tynan, Bill
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Don Touhig and
Mr. Mike Hall.

Question accordingly negatived.

25 Apr 2001 : Column 368

Mr. Deputy Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to. Resolved,

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