Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    It is one year on from the outbreak of Foot and Mouth and we are all still counting the cost. The Conservatives continue to call for an independent public inquiry into the disaster.

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, said: “Labour?s reaction to Foot and Mouth was a shameful combination of dither and incompetence. The cost of the disease has run into ?billions, affecting not only the countryside, but towns and cities as well. Much of the waste and the horror could have been avoided if the Government had got a grip; instead, Tony Blair seems to have been more worried about the date of the General Election.

    “There are too many unanswered questions. Why were Ministers so slow to react? Why was there no contingency plan? Was the culling carried out legally? These and other issues should be addressed in a public inquiry. If Labour have nothing to fear then they have nothing to hide from public scrutiny.

    Hertfordshire was mercifully spared the disease but animals were trapped in overgrazed pastures, farmers? livelihoods affected and a bungled attempt made to dispose of carcases at the North Herts Landfill site in our disease-free county.

    “There is also an urgent need to tighten Britain?s lax meat import controls to safeguard both animal and human health. As things stand today, we could import Foot and Mouth again tomorrow.

    “Labour have utterly failed the countryside. While they hide from the truth we are all paying the price of their bungling.?