BILL Wiggin, newly-elected MP for Leominster, has made his maiden speech and urged the Government to do more on the issues of tourism and foot and mouth.

But he began by paying tribute to his predecessor, Lord Temple-Morris,whom he described as a unique man who spent 23 years representing the Conservatives and four years representing Labour. He said that members on both sides of the House had told him that he was a diligent constituency Member," said Mr Wiggin.

He referred to the 'terrible effects' of foot and mouth which meant that the tourism industry could do with all the support and visitors possible. It needed not loan guarantees at 8.75 per cent, but a positive message backed by a properly funded English tourist board.

"Foot and mouth has been a monumental crisis for my constituents. There have been several outbreaks in the constituency, and we have lost not only large numbers of stock but some hope for the future of farming. "There has been widespread misery, and I pay tribute to those who have soldiered on resolutely.

"They have put up with the culling of healthy stock without confirmation of infection, D notices and movement restrictions, the stigma of dirty farms, the uncompensated loss to the value of cattle over 30 months, the bodies of culled stock lying awaiting removal for up to nine

days in Winforton, the disinfectant at the gates, and the constant washing of vehicles and reclusive living.

"The sense of helplessness was worst. Sometimes it was caused by Ministry

vets culling healthy dairy herds while welfare culls were left waiting."

He added:"We must not forget the suffering caused to animals that tried to lamb in chest-high mud. Our farmers care for their animals. They rightly feel a sense of rage against incompetence and cruelty when they watch their sheep starving or drowning, and know that they would be prosecuted for neglect under normal circumstances."

Mr Wiggin said common sense steps, such as supporting auctioneers who collect animals in collection centres, must be hurriedly implemented.

"The Government have created circumstances in which farmers might hope that their animals get foot and mouth because those whose stock is culled are better off than those who battle on against the virus. That contradiction has been created by pointless rules, such as the 20-day rule, which are applied without common sense.

"If we are to prevent the disease from recurring, we must first hold a full and public inquiry. We must ban imported meat from countries where foot and mouth is endemic, and we must take any opportunity to reform the common agricultural policy. We must end the mechanism that pays farmers to drive the length of the country, collecting old ewes for the benefit of the subsidy."

He claimed that the Government was quick to blame farmers for the spread of the virus through the movement of sheep, but they passed up the chance in Berlin to change the rules. The Government had to grasp the nettle of reforming the CAP,which made the practice widespread.

"We do not have much time.Farmers in countries such as Poland would also like to enjoy agricultural subsidies.When they join, where is the money to pay for them? Which of our world-class public services will be cut to top up the contribution?

"We have already lost the accident and emergency department of Kidderminster hospital, and the lives of my constituents are at risk from the distances that they are required to travel. We cannot afford to miss the chance to reform the CAP again.

"We must remember that it costs the average family £15 extra a week, yet we agree that British farming does not have the chance to compete on a level playing field. We must seize every opportunity to reform the CAP; we must not miss the chance. We must lead the way, and cut the Gordian knot."