Examination of witnesses (Questions 340-359)|
MONDAY 23 APRIL 2001
340. What is the current backlog on the welfare
(Mr Brown) It is very hard to say because when people
get acceptances for their animals the numbers they put in tend
to be smaller, and overall that is by a factor of about 20 per
cent. So some of the bids are in the nature of an enquiry and
some of them are clearly speculative.
341. There is obviously also an overlap with
other schemes, so it is allowing the animals to get
(Mr Brown) And the situation will change as of today
because, of course, there is now movement facilitated where there
was not before. So within the infected areas
342. So you do not have an up-to-date figure?
(Mr Brown) The numbers are diminishing rapidly. I
think something like 230,000 animals were cleared through the
scheme last week, something of that order.
343. I can see this being problematic. There
were comments earlier about the precise valuations in the welfare
scheme, have you any plans to review those at all?
(Mr Brown) It is fair comment but it is also market
sensitive. I did say I was going to discuss this with the Dutch
Minister tomorrow because he is planning a similar scheme, and
we will have the only two schemes of such a nature in the European
Union, and clearly we want to co-ordinate what we are doing. I
think it is also fair to call the Committee's attention to the
European Court of Auditors' Report which suggested that schemes
of this nature should not be state aids or funded by the European
Union but should in fact be funded on either levy basis or an
insurance basis, at least in part if not fully, and this I think
is the future.
344. But you are committed to the rates you
have announced for the period that the scheme was set for?
(Mr Brown) I am certainly committed to the scheme
but clearly one has to make a judgment about the details of it.
Mr Todd: It is difficult to explain to someone
why animals going into the welfare scheme should not be available
for human consumptions when animals moving from currently infected
areas under the slaughter scheme, duly controlled movements, are.
345. Or contiguous cull animals.
(Mr Brown) All of that is true. I know of no human
health advice which compromises them but it is the need to control
diseases in animals, which is at least in part a factor here.
It would be perfectly reasonable, given the fact we do not allow
mammalian feed at all, to argue as you are arguing.
346. It would be possible to argue, certainly
if the European Union chose to look further at this, that one
appeared to be a market support mechanism as a way of removing
meat from the market place to support prices.
(Mr Brown) That is why it is devised as an animal
welfare scheme and not state intervention to support the market,
although these are difficult times and one wants to do all one
347. And definitions to stay?
(Mr Brown) What is the over-30 month scheme? Is that
a public health measure or is it a market support measure? It
functions in practical terms as both but the purpose of it is
to protect the consumer, just as the purpose of the welfare scheme
is to intervene where because of the movement restrictions the
welfare of the animal is compromised. If it cannot be managed
where it is, the only other possible thing to do is a mercy killing.
348. The over-30 month scheme now of course
would not function at all because it has been subsumed into the
welfare scheme, but we will talk about that on the side.
(Mr Brown) I see what you mean.
349. We have seen in certain areas that the
great friction over the disposal of healthy animals could have
been avoided by a vet consultation. I just request that you have
a conversation with the Welsh Office minister, or opposite number,
about the need for consultation in those circumstances.
(Mr Brown) I am not familiar with the specifics and
nor am I the minister directly responsible, but let me tell you
these things, from my own experience, are very difficult. There
is no disposal route which does not have some argument which cannot
be made against it, whether proportionately or not is a matter
for the individual case.
350. I am sceptical about the welfare scheme.
My constituent, Lynn Horricks, has sent me a letter and I just
pick a sentence out. She says, "How we are being forced to
look after our stock is criminal. A welfare issue was recognised
by a veterinary surgeon almost three weeks ago and yet we are
still awaiting information as to when the stock will be slaughtered."
She sent me a list of all the efforts she has made, she has followed
every procedure, register, et cetera, and finally she tells me,
"On 18th April after first getting involved with the Intervention
Board scheme on 27th March, she goes to speak to someone called
Gary at MAFF at Carlisle who says that no licence can be issued
and he was not in a position to advise her as to what to do."
How does somebody like that, who has already spent something like
£80,000 on feeding these animals, resolve their difficulty?
(Mr Brown) Without knowing what sort of animals they
are and what their circumstances are
(Mr Brown) Why can they not move in the market place?
352. I am putting to you, Minister
(Mr Brown) But why cannot they move in the market
353. If you would be kind enough to look into
this case, because she obviously feelsand the circumstances
are detailed in the information presented to methey should
go into the welfare scheme otherwise she would not have gone through
all this rigmarole if they could have gone to market.
(Mr Brown) I do not understand it either but I suspect
I have only heard part of it.
354. I would be very happy to furnish you with
the papers if you will give me the assurance it will be looked
(Mr Brown) You can give me individual casework but
there is a lot of it.
355. What do you mean "there is a lot of
it"? Paperwork or people sitting waiting to get into the
(Mr Brown) A lot of people saying, "Can I be
the first in the queue. This is what I want to happen in my particular
circumstances. Can you get it done for me now."
356. The picture I am getting from this example
is somebody has gone through all the proper procedures, has the
right reasons and veterinary advice, and three weeks later she
writes a letter like that in desperation.
(Mr Brown) If it is a welfare scheme case, the first
question you have to answer is, why cannot the animals be moved,
and the second question you have to answer is, why cannot they
be managed where they are? If you can give me quickly the answer
to those two points, you clearly then have a welfare concern.
What is the answer to the first point? Why can they not be moved?
357. The question I am asking now is, how do
I get into the queue to get this constituent's case answered,
if it is all too difficult for you?
(Mr Brown) It is not all too difficult for me. The
first question you have to answer is, why can they not be moved?
358. Are you willing to look at this particular
(Mr Brown) Why can they not be moved, Michael?
359. I would rather you looked at the individual
(Mr Brown) It may well be that your case falls at
the first hurdle but even if it does not fall at the first hurdle,
the second one is, why can they not be kept where they are?
Mr Jack: They cannot. To save the Committee's
time, I am trying not to go through every piece of information.
Chairman: Let's move on.
Mr Drew: A score draw there, I think.