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Programme highlights Friday, 30 March, 2001, 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK
More help for those affected by FMD
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Blair tours the site of a mass burial pit near Lockerbie
There appear to be distinctly mixed messages coming out of ministerial mouths about the foot and mouth outbreak.

The prime minister has been on American television trying to persuade pusillanimous American tourists there is nothing to worry about.

On the other hand today he visited one of the worst hit areas, Dumfries and Galloway, to meet farmers and talk about the urgent need to get a grip on the situation.

Environment Minister Michael Meacher
Michael Meacher visits Longtown in Cumbria where he spoke to local people in the town
Mr Blair continued to express optimism about the crisis and said that in Dumfries and Galloway he found a remarkable degree of confidence that the slaughter method will work.

The Prime Minister will be at Chequers this weekend, and his official spokesman said again today that he would be "focusing one hundred per cent" on the epidemic.

But this weekend will also be the end of his self-imposed timetable of giving himself ten days on deciding whether or not to call a General Election on May 3.

This question is now, like it or not, an integral part of the equation, and further pressure was put on Mr Blair, when some of Britain's leading churchmen stepped in to call on him to postpone the poll, notably the Archbishop of York, the Rt Rev David Hope.

The countryside in many counties remains firmly closed. Nick Cull, the Chief Executive of the Local Government Association is confident that county councils - following further advice from the Ministry of Agriculture - will ease some of their restrictions, and indeed some have already begun to open up footpaths.

The Environment Minister Michael Meacher - who is also head of the rural task force - visited Cumbria on Friday.

He told The World at One that the government has put in place a wide range of measures aimed at helping those worst his by the foot-and-mouth crisis.

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Environment Minister Michael Meacher MP
On the help to be given to those worst hit by the crisis
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