Tuesday, 9 October 2007

"clear shortcomings" - clear to all but Mr Benn

Oct 9 ~ "We have absolutely no faith in Defra.."

    "...which must own up to its legal and moral responsibility to compensate farmers for its clear shortcomings. If we do not receive some better news [on livestock movements] there is every prospect that we will be out on the streets before the end of this week, and that has not happened for a very long time."
    Jim McLaren, president of NFU Scotland is quoted this morning in the Scotsman in an article that centres on the ever-deepening frustration in Scotland as a £1 billion loss for the UK as a whole is estimated.

    In theory, exports of beef and lamb to Europe are now permitted,
    "but the strictures on livestock movements make it all but impossible"
    Dan Buglass describes the "fractious nature of the communications" between farming unions and DEFRA. Jim McLaren's warning of angry demonstrations looks set to be realised - perhaps one more step towards a breakaway from England.

Oct 9 ~ DEFRA's "professionalism, dedication and commitment" is praised by the Minister

    In a Parliamentary statement, Hilary Benn admits somewhat unnecessarily
    "It cannot be said with complete certainty exactly how the virus escaped from the Pirbright site..."
    The media has already prophecied that the new Anderson review would criticise and blame DEFRA " for failing to fund improvements to the site, which was described as "shabby" and "unsatisfactory" by parliamentary committees earlier this year..." (Telegraph) and Hilary Benn is in a very uncomfortable position.
    "....we are determined that it does not happen again," asserts poor Mr Benn,"I have accepted all of the recommendations in the reports from the HSE and
    Professor Spratt."
    But DEFRA's record in accepting and acting upon the recommendations of various reports has hardly been professional, dedicated or committed in the recent past and Mr Benn may well be finding himself completely out of his depth.

    As for Professor Spratt's recommendations concerning the hold-up to the now vital Bluetongue vaccine production at Merial, it would seem that DEFRA has no intention of listening. (See Bluetongue page at warmwell.com ) Hilary Benn's "Rigorous Improvement Plan" has, he says, to be implemented at the Pirbright site "before full operations with live virus can re-commence" - which would seem to suggest that Merial must continue to sit on its hands until granted the go-ahead by a Ministry that was the source of the problem in the first place.

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