Examination of Witness (Questions 120
MONDAY 11 DECEMBER 2000
120. You referred to the rule change, the European
rules introduced in 1990, and then of course in 1998 there was
a big Dutch outbreak, and you said yourself we had not had a serious
outbreak for a very long time indeed. Did any alarm bells ring
with the Dutch outbreak? Did you do any sort of war games? Did
you say, "This is getting a bit close. We have these new
rules, we have this much bigger outdoor pig sector than the Continent,
would this be the time to sit down and do some planning as to
what we might put in place if the worst came to the worst?"
Did that process take place?
(Ms Quin) As far as I know, and I have to stress I
was not in the Department at that time and it is also not my specific
area of responsibility, the situation was monitored obviously
in the Netherlands and there were discussions within the Department
about it. I think it is perhaps an area where, if I can get some
supplementary information, I should send that direct to the Committee
because I am conscious I do not personally have the background
121. We would much rather have someone who said
they do not know than blather for five minutes and we draw the
conclusion ourselves that they do not know.
(Ms Quin) The trouble is, you cannot say, "I
do not know" to every question!
122. Literally in one minute, you are faced
with a new outbreak and you have drawn the conclusions from this
one, just telegraphically, as the Italians would say, what do
you think you might do the same and what do you think you might
try and do differently?
(Ms Quin) I think getting an immediate system of communication
up and running is tremendously important, and ensuring that is
also up-dated as expeditiously as possible, and having consultations
with the industry right away. We did have consultations with them
early on but certainly the importance of dialogue with the industry
cannot be over-estimated.
123. We have obviously this scheme in place,
we have got compensation for BSE, we have bovine TB, is there
not a case for having some consistency in the way in which we
react if you have an outbreak of animal diseaseI am not
talking about the human side of BSE but purely the animal disease?
So you have a scheme which you can almost lift off the shelf,
where there is some consistency and ease of operation, rather
than every time to ratchet in a new form of compensation, with
arguments as to where it is going to be set and who is going to
(Ms Quin) I think there is a lot of merit in that
and that is basically the process we have begun domestically in
our discussions with the farming industry generally on insurance
issues. However, you are right to flag up the European dimension
because of being part of the Single Market and the CAP, and I
think it would make sense, provided we get some interesting conclusions
from the work we are doing, to share that with our European partners
and to look at these issues. There is no doubt that in a very
piecemeal system you can get discrepancies, you can get distortions
of competition, you can get allegations of unfairnesses and we
want to eliminate those as much as we possibly can.
124. Minister, thank you very much indeed. We
are going to see you again quite shortly, I imagine, on other
issues. Thank you very much for this. You have a date in advance,
at some stage, when you have finished your review. Thank you for
(Ms Quin) Thank you.