CATTLE AND EGG REGULATIONS
Letter from Lord Rooker, Minister for
Sustainable Farming and Food, Department for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs to the Chairman
I am writing to let you know that we have today
made a technical amendment to the Cattle Identification Regulation
1998, the Cattle Database regulation 1998 and the Egg (Marketing
Standards) Regulation 1995.
These amendments make no procedural changes,
and the rules which cattle keepers and egg producers and retailers
need to follow will not be changed in any way. They simply update
the cross-references to the European Union legislation that the
three Regulations implement, following changes to the European
The effect of not having updated the cross-references
has been challenged in court. I do not want to take any unnecessary
risks when it comes to enforcing this legislation, which is designed
to protect public health, and so I am now closing that gap and
making it absolutely clear what offences are punishable under
the legislation. The powers for enforcement of the egg Regulations
are subject to the same consideration. It is particularly important
that cattle keepers comply with EU law on the identification and
movement of cattle if public health is to remain protected. The
step change in performance by the British cattle industry has
been recognised in the lifting of the export ban, and rigorous
enforcement of the rules has been a factor in getting the ban
lifted. It is right that the enforcement powers be updated now
by these minor amendments.
These amendments will put future prosecutions
on a solid legal foundation. That leaves a question over how sound
previous prosecutions have been since the domestic and EU legislation
got out of line with each other. I understand that there have
been around 250 successful prosecutions during that time under
this legislation, in which the courts have interpreted the references
to the EU legislation as being references to the updated EU legislation.
The legal effect of the mis-match has not been tested until now.
It is now for the court to decide what the effect has been and
what consequences flow from that decision in respect of those
who have already been convicted.
I must emphasise, however, that these convictions
will have been obtained in respect of actions that breached the
EU legislation designed to protect public health. I am satisfied
that our enforcement procedures have been, and will continue to
be, rigorous. Public and animal health has been protected by the
work of our inspectors, and will continue to be so.
14 June 2006