MAFF – FOOT & MOUTH – GENERAL ELECTION – 15 March 2001

Dr Julian Lewis: At the outset of the crisis, the Minister expressed his concern that even the time required for him to participate in debates in the House might damage his ability and that of his fellow Ministers and officials to look after the crisis as best they could. Given that that was his view then, can he put his hand on his heart and say to the House that his ability and that of other Ministers and officials would not be damaged much more severely if we were to proceed with a general election while such a crisis is raging? Or does he agree with me that any Government who went ahead with a general election under these circumstances, when they have a year of their time left to run, would fulfil the worst fears of the electorate that the convenience of politicians comes before the interests of their constituents?