BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Programmes: World at One: Programme highlights  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Programme highlights Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 16:12 GMT
Tories attack foot-and-mouth policy
Sheep slaughtered due to foot-and-mouth
Foot-and-mouth could prevent rural voters getting to polls
The Conservatives are edging their way towards a call for the local elections in May to be postponed - and by extension any other poll, like a General Election, that might be called on the same date.

William Hague today declared that in the state of the foot and mouth crisis today, it would not be right to call elections, and that it might be wise to prepare legislation which would allow local council polling to be postponed in affected areas.

William Hague
Hague: Cannot hold general election during a national crisis out of control
The Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, still maintains that it is inappropriate for politicians to be worrying about their own livelihoods when so many farmers are losing theirs.

So far the Government has remained adamant: local elections should proceed, and the timing of the general election should not be prejudiced by foot and mouth.

'National crisis'

But the Tory leader disagrees.

"I don't think it would be right to call an election at a time of national crisis out of control," he said.

"We are getting impatient about it. We have resisted many opportunities to criticise the government's approach," he added.


 Click here to watch William Hague's statement in full

Coming to the support of Mr Hague's view, those responsible for organising local elections in infected areas are expressing their concerns.

The Chief Executive of West Devon Borough Council, David Incoll, wrote to the Home Office last week asking for advice on the practicalities of holding a poll - and has not so far received a reply.

Quarantine

The Leader of the House of Commons, Margaret Beckett said she believed Mr Hague's was playing party politics with the crisis.

"It would send the worst possible signal to the outside world to call off these elections - namely that Britain was unable to function."

"He doesn't seem to have focussed on when you would postpone the local elections to," she said.

"It's animals that are quarantined, not people - provided people take sensible and proper precautions, people are able to move around the countryside."

But Tim Collins, vice-Chairman of the Conservative party and MP for Westmoreland and Lonsdale - one of the areas worst hit by the outbreak, disagreed.

He described Ms Beckett's comments as "terrifyingly ignorent" insisting that farmers in affected areas were either not allowed or too afraid to leave their farms.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Leader of the Commons, Margaret Beckett
"Mr Hague is looking for some kind of party political advantage"
John Burnett, LibDem MP for Devon West and Torridge
On the limits placed by the crisis on rural elections
Conservative Party Vice-Chairman Tim Collins
"Ministers should put aside campaigning and concentrate of the crisis"
Links to more Programme highlights stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Programme highlights stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes