THE United States should lift its ban on the import of haggis in an attempt to tackle the country’s obesity crisis, a leading medic has said.
Lord McColl of Dulwich, a retired professor of surgery, said American Scots were being deprived of the “wholesome” food.
But Lord Winston, a leading fertility doctor and television presenter, hit back, saying that haggis was “revolting” but if it could be used to curb obesity it should be promoted in Glasgow first.
And Conservative peer Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, a former Scotland secretary, joked that former first minister Alex Salmond should be sent permanently to the States to sort the problem out.
At question time in the House of Lords, Tory Lord McColl called for the Government to put pressure on the American administration to lift the ban, which has been in place since 1971.
He told peers: “The United States government is depriving 24 million American Scots of this wholesome food which satisfies hunger very much more than the junk food Americans consume.
“This would help to deal with the greatest epidemic they have - the obesity epidemic, which is killing millions, costing billions of dollars and the cure is free.”
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs minister Lord de Mauley said there were two hurdles.
“First the US restrictions on the import of lamb. We are working with the US authorities towards achieving approval to lift those restrictions with I think good prospects,” he said.
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“Secondly the US’s unwillingness to recognise animal lungs as an acceptable food stuff. In this regard the most promising avenue in the short term is the production of haggis omitting the inclusion of lung and the Scottish government recognises this.”
He said the former environment secretary Owen Paterson had lobbied the US authorities during a visit last summer.
But Labour peer Lord Winston said: “I confess to being a little bit surprised that one of the most senior qualified medical practitioners in the chamber is asking this question seeing there is a questionable issue about haggis, which I find personally a revolting food.
“Would charity be better at home and if it does really deal with obesity maybe we should be promoting it a little bit in Glasgow?”
Lord de Mauley replied: “What a good idea.”
He recommend a “large tot of whisky” to help Lord Winston enjoy the “great chieftain o the puddin’-race” as Burns had called it.
Liberal Democrat Lord Purvis of Tweed, a former member of the Scottish Parliament, said: “I see that the Prime Minister is with President Obama today. Can you now send an urgent message to make sure this visit is a triumph by having a private word with the President to make sure this ban is now lifted?”
Lord de Mauley told him he could not “guarantee a rapid resolution of this problem”.
But Lord Forsyth suggested an alternative solution to the problem.
“Given the seriousness of this matter, should the Government not consider appointing a special envoy with energy and imagination to go to the United States and stay there until this matter is resolved,” he proposed. “Could I suggest that Alex Salmond is currently looking for a job.”
Lord de Mauley said it was an “eminently sensible suggestion”.