UK Independence Party

Foot and Mouth Disease - MEPs protests against "blank cheque" demand

The European Commission's proposed directive on foot and mouth disease, published today, gives it a "blank cheque" says Jeffrey Titford MEP.  "It represents a complete hand-over of control to the secretive Brussels-based Standing Veterinary Committee in the event of another epidemic of foot and mouth".

Buried deep within the 125-page document, and couched in obscure technical jargon, Article 88 on page 73 allows for measures to be taken on an "ad hoc basis" to deal with foot and mouth, when the virus appears to be spreading despite "measures taken in accordance with (the) directive".

Any such measures would be dictated by a "Decision" produced by a committee of unnamed officials who sit on the Standing Veterinary Committee in Brussels, with no public access and no records kept of meetings.  It is not even possible to find out who sits on the committee.  Any such "Decision" would be binding on the UK, and ministers would be obliged to carry out any instructions given.

Such measures could include a repetition of the so-called "contiguous cull" in which over six million healthy animals were killed during the 2001 epidemic.  This is despite the UK Parliament having refused to give DEFRA this power, through rejecting the Animal Health Bill.

"If this Article is adopted" says Mr Titford, "it will be a complete hand-over of powers to the unelected officials in Brussels".  "Ministers will simply become messenger boys for Brussels and any action taken will be beyond the control of Parliament and the British public".  "If Brussels orders the slaughter of millions of animals, we will simply have to comply", he says.