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Lord Donoughue: The Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) Ownership Board is currently responsible for authorising the performance bonus received by the chief executive of the MHS. Performance is assessed against published objectives and targets. It is proposed that ownership of the MHS will transfer to the Food Standards Agency (FSA). It is expected that it will then be for the FSA Board to make decisions on how payment of any performance bonus to the chief executive of the MHS will be handled.
Lord Donoughue: The task of the Meat Hygiene Service will be to carry out the policy of the Food Standards Agency in accordance with the standards set by the agency. If individual meat hygiene enforcement officials failed to implement that policy, appropriate action, including disciplinary action, would be taken.
Lord Donoughue: The Government took note of the recommendations from Professor Philip James in his proposal for a Food Standards Agency that the Meat Hygiene Service should form part of that agency; and of the widely supportive comments in response to that report. The Government also took the view that it was in principle right that a body with responsibilities that were primarily concerned with food safety should form part of the Food Standards Agency.
Lord Donoughue: No. The Government did not consider any alternative options in detail because it agreed with Professor James' recommendation that the Meat Hygiene Service should form part of the Food Standards Agency.
Lord Donoughue: The proposed Food Standards Agency will be able to direct the Meat Hygiene Service to improve its performance should it fail to perform satisfactorily. It will be for the agency to decide in the particular circumstances what sanctions to impose in the event of the MHS failing to meet its performance targets.
Whether Resource Managers and other administrative staff employed by the Meat Hygiene Service have any statutory powers of entry to premises licensed under the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995.[HL2938]
Lord Donoughue: Only in circumstances where a Principal Official Veterinary Surgeon (POVS) is appointed as the Official Veterinary Surgeon to a plant will they have statutory powers in respect of the implementation of the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995.
In all other circumstances, POVSs, Area Resource Managers and other administrative staff do not have any statutory powers under the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995. However, staff authorised under the Food Safety Act 1990 do have statutory powers of entry.
When European national veterinary surgeons are required to complete written tests in English on case studies and legislative requirements relating to meat hygiene, what marks are awarded respectively for addressing the subject material and for competence in English; and what is the overall pass mark.[HL2962]
Lord Donoughue: Whilst no formal examination is undertaken, a veterinary surgeon's ability to communicate effectively is assessed as part of the Official Veterinary Surgeon (OVS) course. Only where an acceptable standard is demonstrated are they eligible to be designated as OVSs.
Whether any instructions have been given to Meat Hygiene Service personnel who make entries in slaughterhouse "day books" which record allegations of verbal abuse on the part of slaughterhouse staff as to their obligations to avoid defamation.[HL3034]
Where the abuse is of such a serious nature as to result in a possibility of prosecution, then a full criminal investigation is carried out. This investigation will involve interviews with all parties.
Lord Donoughue: The number of samples all member states are obliged to include in their national residues surveillance plan is set out in Directive 96/23/EC. Despite regularly monitoring sample collection, it is not always possible for the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) to achieve the individual national residues plan targets because of the large numbers of samples involved and the variety of materials required for analysis. Some under and over-collection in certain sectors and categories is inevitable. This has no effect on the confidence that can be drawn from the results which remain fully representative of the animals and animal products being made available for human consumption.
Acknowledging this, my right honourable friend the Minister announced in Parliament on 29 April 1999 that he had set the VMD a high level target for the statutory surveillance programme in 1999-2000 to collect 100 per cent. of samples in the GB National residues plan and to test 95 per cent. of these samples.
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