Examination of Witnesses (Questions 114
WEDNESDAY 31 OCTOBER 2001
CURRY, CBE AND
114. Gentlemen, we apologise for keeping you
waiting but, as you will appreciate, foot and mouth disease a)
is a difficult issue and b) you would not be here if we had not
had it. So in a sense you have sprung fully armed from it.
(Sir Don Curry) I may want to challenge
115. You have been given the job to decide between
now and Christmas what the future of farming is, which demonstrates
that either it must be dead easy or that you are not going to
do it in any case, so there is either no rocket science involved
or the rocket science is beyond anybody. Would you like to give
us a progress report of how you are getting on with this little
task of yours?
(Sir Don Curry) Thank you, Chairman, ladies and gentlemen.
Incidentally, I think this study would have taken place with or
without foot and mouth disease because the future of food and
farming is an issue which is of great concern to the industry
at the present time and to the Government, and it was in the Party
Manifesto before the Election. I think we are making very good
progress. We are right in the heart of our consultation programme,
deep in consultation. We have just concluded the written consultation
process. The closing date was last Friday but submissions are
still appearing and we have had over 1,000 responses to that written
consultation process. We are visiting the six regions of England.
We have completed two of these visits to the North East and the
North West, and there is a visit to the South East on Friday,
and the other regions next week and the week after. They have
so far proved very helpful indeed and given regional representatives
an opportunity to express their views and for us to understand
the specific character of each region and the concerns that exist
there. We are meeting a whole range of specific stakeholder groups
in London and we are part way through that process too. So we
are gathering a great deal of information and views and we have
commissioned a considerable amount of work using other bodies
who have been very willing to help to add to our knowledge, so
we have a very good understanding of the issues and can begin
to put a report together, hopefully within the timescale.
Chairman: Are your members sturdy, independent-minded
people looking at the interests from above with total neutrality,
or are they people representing a particular lobby within industry
arguing for their lobby? There are an awful lot of the usual suspects
on it, if I may say so.
116. Including yourself!
(Sir Don Curry) Indeed. The membership was predetermined.
I am sure you will be aware of that.
117. What are you saying; you did not choose
(Sir Don Curry) Absolutely. I did not select the members,
but I have to say had I had an opportunity to select I could not
have done a better job because we have a group of independent,
Commission members who were not appointed to represent particular
sectors, but who were appointed for their individual qualities,
knowledge and experience, and the interaction, the collective
approach to this is working very well indeed. So I can say nothing
other than the team is working well.
118. Will the submissions that have been sent
to you be published?
(Sir Don Curry) We are publishing a list of all the
main submissions on our web site and we want to have as open a
process as possible. We have a web site and everything will be
as transparent as possible. We will list on the web site all the
submissions we have received and anyone who wishes to have the
full submission from anyone will have that submission available
to them. However, the task of downloading over 1,000 submissions
onto the web site is a huge one and we believe that it is going
to be too time consuming within the time.
119. Your regional meetings; how do you select
who goes to those? How are they promoted?
(Sir Don Curry) We are using government regional offices
and they are planning the process of our regional visits. They
are then approaching organisations within each region to ask whether
they would like to send a representative to our meetings. The
meetings are made known publicly. Knowledge of those meetings
taking place is available on our web site and is being made available
via each region, and any individual can approach the region and
ask if they could attend that meeting. We are not excluding anyone
from attending those meetings and we are encouraging organisations,
whether they be trade associations or the supportive organisations
for our industry, if they wish to attend. They are certainly very
welcome and we would encourage them to attend.