Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (F14(a))

  Lord Whitty undertook to write to the Committee with some further information about this work area.


  As promised, we enclose a copy of the form template for submission of data. This has been drawn up in discussion with enforcement officers. Enforcement officers can submit the information by whatever means suits them best, ie by fax, e-mail, etc. If they already compile this information but in a slightly different format we accept that rather than ask them to duplicate the work recording.

  As Lord Whitty and Jill Wordley explained on 2 July, the database has been established to hold a central (GB) record of products seized from passengers, through the main postal sorting offices, and those commercial consignments landed at ports and airports without being presented to a border inspection post in accordance with European rules.

  Work is under way to develop a web-based electronic system which will enable enforcement officers to record the data direct and to access information on consolidated data to help inform anti-smuggling measures. We are involving enforcement officers to draw up the specifications and they will be involved during the testing phases before the system is rolled out. We can not be specific about timing for delivery: we first need to agree the technical requirements.


  The suggestion was made that more space could be taken on the baggage carousel islands to draw passengers' attention to our import rules and the need to declare prohibited goods to Customs. Since 21 June we have, as the Committee noted when they visited Heathrow, had some of the "meat" import posters on display in the trilateral stands on the carousels.

  The Committee might find it helpful if I expand on what we have been doing in this area. Officials have had a number of discussions over the past year with BAA and enforcement agencies about our requirements. We do not have at our disposal any statutory powers to compel specific solutions. You will know that most airports are privately owned. Part of their business is to maximise revenue from advertising space. They also look to develop and protect their corporate image, and part of this means they put in place rules on "signage", including the use of advertising space. They and other enforcement agencies also expect to have an input into decisions about how information is conveyed to ensure an appropriate balance in getting the various messages across.

  We have looked at taking paid advertising space. The size and form of advertising, and which airport we are talking about, all influence costs. At Heathrow the "trilateral" displays cost about £40,000 per month. A year's advertising package costs in the region of £250,000. The prime advertising spaces, as well as being expensive, are booked months in advance by private companies.

  We have a budget of £500,000 for the peak summer holiday advertising campaign and we believe this is best spent on leaflets for travellers, a video and radio filler. Our view was influenced by feedback from, among others, those responsible for the New Zealand controls who have also found that posters, etc in baggage arrival halls and points en route go largely ignored.


  You also asked whether it was possible for the Committee to see the UK's action plan drawn up in response to the mission report last year. The final report itself, and the UK's comments on the draft report sent to us before publication, can be viewed on the Commission's website at

  Under the conditions of such inspections, we had three months to correct procedural deficiencies and problems with facilities. The three months were up on 1 July and I enclose a copy of a letter the Chief Veterinary Officer sent to the FVO on 4 July detailing the action taken to address those deficiencies. Deficiencies involving structural changes must be completed to a six-month timescale, ie by 1 October and we will be writing again to the Commission when those are complete.

5 July 2002

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 23 July 2002