Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has rounded on the UK Government over its refusal to take any responsibility for last year's foot and mouth outbreak in the south of England which cost farmer and crofters throughout the North dearly.
Mr Gibson's attack came after the UK Government responded to the petition on the issue which was submitted on the 10 Downing Street website. This week they indicated that the government intends to take no action to compensate farmers whose livelihoods were put at risk and who were badly affected by the restrictions brought following the outbreak.
Mr Gibson said:
"This is unbelievable arrogance and a grave dereliction of duty from the London Labour Government and is yet another example of how they don't understand rural areas."
"I can well remember how sheep farmers and crofters were severely hit by the movement restrictions which saw empty auction rooms and crowded hillsides leading to decreased sheep numbers and increased debts for hill farmers and crofters. For the Labour Party to sit back and say that they are not responsible for the outbreak is unbelievable."
"Even though the outbreak started in a Government Laboratory in Surrey the Labour Westminster Government shy away from taking responsibility by saying that they merely regulated the site. Now they refuse to compensate the farmers who were worst
affected by it. This is the same laissez faire attitude which saw Gordon Brown et al refuse to compensate Scottish farmers in autumn following the outbreak."
"The support shown to Scottish farmers and crofters by Scottish Government Rural Secretary Richard Lochead, as opposed to the couldn't-care-less approach shown from Westminster, shows who acts in the Scotland's interests. Neither Scottish farmers nor crofters started this outbreak yet it is they who have suffered most and it is they who have been ignored by Westminster. It is a further example of why more powers need to be given to Scottish Parliament."