Biography Chronology Home Search Speeches/Statements

1996 - Mr Major’s Comments on the British Beef Ban

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the British beef ban, made during an interview in Florence held on Saturday 22nd June 1996


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if all he had achieved was a truce in the beef ban dispute].

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I don’t think so. We found a way through the difficulties that existed. What we needed was to find a way to ensure that the ban could be progressively lifted on the basis of objective criteria, on the basis of science and not just blocked by our colleagues because there was a strong element of public feeling abroad. We need to deal with this on objective criteria and I think we have now agreed to do that.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked whether it was still possible the end of the beef ban was no closer].

PRIME MINISTER:

No, you see I don’t accept that. The concern that existed before, what we saw when the beef derivatives ban was lifted against the advice of the Commission and the scientists, was a political intrusion into a decision that should have been made on the basis of science. The agreements that we have reached I think will stop that.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if the ban would start to be lifted in the autumn].

PRIME MINISTER:

I hope we will be able to see the beginnings of the lifting of the ban in the early autumn. We are looking precisely at how rapidly we can meet the objective criteria and I would hope to be in a position to give the House of Commons more information on Monday.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if the ban could take years to lift].

PRIME MINISTER:

A lot of pessimists have gone on and said it will be years before anything is lifted or it will be years before all of it is lifted. I don’t think that is going to be the case, but we are looking at the objective criteria now, when we have done that we will give out whatever information is available.