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The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman : The total expenditure on offices and administration for the Meat Hygiene Service for the last financial year was approximately £4.4 million.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: Since the launch of the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) on 1 April 1995 one member of staff has been convicted of an offence in relation to their employment, while one other is currently the subject of ongoing criminal proceedings.

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The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Meat Hygiene Service staff are required to comply with the instructions set out in the Meat Hygiene Service operation manual at all times; and what action is taken by the Meat Hygiene Service if they do not.[HL3340]

Baroness Hayman: Yes, Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) staff are required to comply with the instructions set out in the MHS operations manual. Appropriate management, and if necessary disciplinary, action is taken if they fail to do so.

Lord Glentoran asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many Regulation 10 notices under the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations were served by official veterinary surgeons, employed by the Meat Hygiene Service in the financial years 1995-96, 1996-97, 1997-98 and 1998-99.[HL3119]

Baroness Hayman: The information requested is not readily available for the financial years 1995-96, 1996-97 and 1997-98 and could only be produced at disproportionate cost. However, the total number of Regulation 10 notices served under the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations by official veterinary surgeons employed by or contracted to the Meat Hygiene Service during the 1998-99 financial year was:


    Financial year: 1998-99


    Regulation 10 notices served: 279

Lord Rowallan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a slaughterhouse owner or operator is entitled to exclude from his premises any member of the Meat Hygiene Service staff who is so disruptive as to interfere unlawfully in the conduct of operations.[HL3109]

Baroness Hayman: Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) staff are appointed to licensed fresh meat premises to carry out responsibilities assigned to them by statute. Indeed the occupier of the slaughterhouse has a statutory duty to ensure that official veterinary surgeons (OVSs) and inspectors are provided with such reasonable assistance as they need to carry out their duties under the appropriate hygiene regulations. Slaughterhouse owners or operators are therefore not entitled to exclude MHS staff from their premises. However, if a slaughterhouse owner or operator has problems with any member of MHS staff, they should make these known to either the official veterinary surgeon appointed to the plant or to more senior MHS management, who will take the appropriate action. MHS staff are trained to a high standard and their performance is monitored rigorously. They are required to be present and to ensure that fresh meat is produced in compliance with the regulations.

Lord Rowallan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a slaughterhouse owner who, on being instructed to carry out works by way of an improvement notice served by an official veterinary

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    surgeon, carries out those works and then subsequently discovers that those works were not a statutory requirement is entitled to claim compensation for the costs of those works; and to whom any claim should be addressed.[HL3110]

Baroness Hayman: Stringent safeguards are set out within relevant food safety legislation to ensure that a slaughterhouse owner's interests are protected both before and after the serving of an improvement notice.

Prior to serving an improvement notice, official veterinary surgeons (OVSs) are required to provide a slaughterhouse owner with written notice that they intend to serve an improvement notice, together with the reasons for doing so. The slaughterhouse owner has the right of appeal once the improvement notice has been served. However, by being informed of an OVS's intent to serve an improvement notice, the slaughterhouse owner may make representations at this stage to attempt to stop the notice from being served.

In serving an improvement notice an OVS has to state why the slaughterhouse owner is thought to be failing to comply with the regulations; state what has to be done to rectify that failure; and require the slaughterhouse owner to take those or equivalent measures required of them within a specified time. Should the slaughterhouse owner appeal against the serving of this notice, the need for compliance will be suspended until the result of that appeal is determined. Accordingly, it would be most unusual for a slaughterhouse owner to carry out remedial action while awaiting the results of an appeal.

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The slaughterhouse owner therefore has every opportunity to make sure that they do not carry out work that is not a statutory requirement, and consequently the need for a damages claim should not arise.

This said, any slaughterhouse owner who believes that they have justifiable grounds for claiming compensation for the costs of works carried out in order to comply with an improvement notice should address their claim to the Meat Hygiene Service.

Viscount Long asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What training official veterinary surgeons receive in the investigation of food poisoning; and how much time is allocated to this subject.[HL3324]

Baroness Hayman: No specific period of time is currently dedicated to the training of official veterinary surgeons (OVSs) in the investigation of food poisoning. However, by virtue of their undergraduate training in microbiology, epidemiology, pathology, and zoonoses they are well placed to carry out this work in the premises to which they are appointed.

Viscount Long asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether for each employee of the Meat Hygiene Service who has visited countries outside the European Union in 1998 or 1999 they will list (a) the countries; (b) the date of the visit and its duration; (c) the grade of the employee; (d) the total cost of each visit; (e) whether these costs were met from the budget of the Meat Hygiene Service or the budget of a named government department; and (f) the purpose of the visit. [HL3452]

Baroness Hayman: The information requested is given in the table below:

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Country VisitedDate/ DurationEmployee (Grade)Approximate total Cost to MHS (Excluding Salary)Purpose of Visit
Australia, New Zealand, USA28 June to 16 August 1998 (50 days)MHS Regional Director (Grade 6)*Study tour to look at HACCP, world trade and the concept of equivalence.
Australia28 February to 12 March 1999 (13 days)MHS Director of Operations (Member of the Senior Civil Service)£5,341Attendance at World Congress on Meat and Poultry Inspection, and investigation of Australian progress in implementing the Meat Safety Enhancement Programme (based on HACCP).

* Visit was partly self-funded and partly funded via a scholarship financed by the National Sanitation Foundation in the USA.


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Low Throughput Abattoirs

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What correspondence they have had recently with the European Commission on the subject of derogation for low throughput abattoirs from some of the provisions of Directive 64/433; and[HL3923]

    When they will place copies in the Library of the House of recent correspondence with the European Commission on the subject of derogation for low throughput abattoirs from some of the provisions of Directive 64/433; and[HL3924]

    What legal advice they have received relating to the recent exchange of correspondence between the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the European Commission on the subject of derogation for low throughput abattoirs from some of the provisions of Directive 64/433.[HL3925]

Baroness Hayman: Earlier this year the Government sought the views of the European Commission on the level and frequency of veterinary supervision required by Directive 64/433/EEC (as amended) for those low throughput (permanently derogated) slaughterhouses and cutting plants approved under Article 4 of the directive. The resulting guidance from the Commission is being considered, together with advice from MAFF legal department, as part of the Meat Charges Impact Study. An announcement will be made once the study is completed. A copy of the Commission's guidance will be placed in the Library of the House at that time.

EU Tobacco Regime

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which countries received subsidies under the European Union tobacco regime; and what was the total value of those subsidies for each of the years from 1988 to 1998.[HL4010]

Baroness Hayman: The countries that receive subsidies under the European Union tobacco regime are Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Total premia paid under the regime for the years in question was:

Mecu£million
1988966655
19891,139746
19901,232875
19911,330931
19921,233873
19931,165916
19941,057810
1995993802
19961,026851
1997998719
1998870586

Source:

EAGGF Guarantee Annual Reports.

Exchange rates: Feoga Financial Reports 1988-98.


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