Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Seventh Report


34. The port health authorities are funded through local authorities. They therefore have to compete for funding with the whole range of services provided by local government. The Association of Port Health Authorities said that, despite finding passengers with illegal meat on every flight checked at Gatwick in the last year, more checks were not undertaken because of the "question of resources".[99] Those checks that had taken place relied on overtime being paid to allow officers to work "outside their normal jobs".[100] The Chartered Institute for Environmental Health called for an increase in resources.[101] The Association of Port Health Authorities convened a meeting in April which concluded that the suggestion should be put to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that the Department "should control the funding", and that "teams of six qualified officers should be based at the major sea and airports across the country".[102]

35. Lord Whitty acknowledged that "in this area there is a resource issue",[103] but that debate about the matter would be better informed following the completion of the risk assessment. He also acknowledged that there was an argument for funding the system nationally - but suggested that this would be influenced by the review of the role of agencies that is taking place. We accept that resources currently allocated to dealing with the problem of illegal meat imports are not adequate, and are not secure at port level. We recommend that, once the risk assessment and the review of the roles of the agencies involved in dealing with illegal food imports have been completed, the Government provide adequate funds to meet their recommendations, and consider how they can be secured to the functions required.

99   Evidence taken on 2 July 2002, Q.117. Back

100   Evidence taken on 2 July 2002, Q.117. Back

101   Evidence taken on 18 June 2002, Q.1. Back

102   Memorandum submitted by the London Port Health Authority, Ev 27, para 13. Back

103   Evidence taken on 2 July 2002, Q.247. Back

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