The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1996Prime Minister (1990-1997)

Mr Major’s Statement on BSE – 19 September 1996

Below is the text of the Government statement on BSE, issued on 19th September 1996.


The Prime Minister chaired a Ministerial meeting this evening. The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food briefed his colleagues on his discussions in Brussels earlier this week. Ministers considered how to take forward policy in the light of the latest scientific evidence and in the context of the Florence framework.

The Government remains committed to taking decisions on the basis of public health and objective scientific criteria as agreed at Florence. The new scientific evidence now available means that further work is needed on appropriate culling strategies. The Commission’s decision yesterday to seek the advice of its multidisciplinary committee will contribute to this re-evaluation.

The Government also intends to consult further with the Commission on proposals for relaxing export restrictions for animals from certified and other herds which have had no contact with BSE. For the present the Government is not proceeding with the selective cull but will return to cull options in the light of the developing science and of discussions on the certified herds scheme.

Ministers noted that the specialist beef industry has been very hard hit over the last six months, and that a further package of assistance for the industry is being considered by the European Commission on which the Government will seek early agreement in the Agriculture Council. Meantime, the Government considers it right to provide significant new aids for the specialist beef sector in the United Kingdom. Accordingly, an additional £60 million will be provided in respect of cattle in the hills through the 1997 Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowance (HLCA) scheme.