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ROGER WINDSOR, House of Commons meeting, 29 Nov 2001
 

Vet Roger Windsor states "We were seen, by the public at large, to side with the men from MAFF rather than take a stand on behalf of the animals. This is unprecedented. What we should have done was to refuse co-operation with the government."

Mary Critchley: I am now going to turn to the senior vet, Roger Windsor. When I first asked Mr Windsor to talk, I said to him I was very grateful for somebody of your status to talk, because you are still one of the very few vets, who seems to me to be in a James Herriot mould.

Roger Windsor: Thank you Madam Chairman, that is most kind of you. If you will excuse me I will stand, because I can think much better on my feet than on my backside. First of all, I must apologise, I have to go almost immediately after I have spoken, because unfortunately I have to be in a proceeding which re-convenes at 2.00pm, but I am here to say the few words that I have got to say.

What I would like to say, then, is that at the beginning of this year, the veterinary profession was unique among the professions, in that it was completely, universally respected. And also widely and fondly held in the affection of many people in this country. And then what happened? The outbreak of foot and mouth disease has, in vast measure, dented our reputation.

We were seen, by the public at large, to side with the men from MAFF rather than take a stand on behalf of the animals. This is unprecedented. What we should have done was to refuse co-operation with the government.

When the politicians took control of animal disease out of the hands of veterinary surgeons, and put it into the hands of what I would refer to as the crazy gang - professors Anderson and King, (Applause) they looked at their computer screens to decide what had got to be done.

There was no knowledge of the pain and suffering of the farming community, or the loss to the countryside of the genetic heritage.

And we've now got a draconian measure, put on top of what was an appalling system of carnage and slaughter.

I think this new Bill will make matters worse, because there is no doubt, that what was MAFF, and is now DEFRA, was grossly incompetent during the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, and now what they are doing is looking for a new law that they can hide under.

So let me just say, this Bill removes from farmers the right to appeal against their healthy animals being killed. Not culled, killed.

Secondly, it makes criminals of people whose only fault is that they happen to love their animals. We saw this seriously in the outbreak earlier in the year. For example, young girls being carried off to prison, or the local police station.

It should not happen in a civilised society. These people are not criminals, and this Bill will make them even more criminals. And it also allows officials to decide that the genetic makeup of an animal is sufficient to condemn it to death. For the wrong genes, it's going to be slaughtered under these laws. Or other animals if they have got diseases.

This bill will result in a complete withdrawal of the co-operation of the farming community, and will make the control of animal disease impossible.

If this Bill is passed, I will do everything in my power to stop the veterinary profession from co-operating.

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