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Mr. Nick Brown [holding answer 22 January 2001]: Letters from Government Ministers to the Prime Minister fall under the exemption in Part II Section 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, but I last wrote to the Prime Minister on this issue on 16 November 2000.
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Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the source of the outbreak of classical swine fever in East Anglia last year and the lessons the Government have drawn from its occurrence. 
Mr. Nick Brown: A wide-ranging meeting was held between officials and key stakeholders on 16 February 2001 to review the sources of the outbreak and lessons learned. However, further consideration of these issues has had to be postponed while the State Veterinary Service concentrates on eradicating the current outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Investigations into the sources of both outbreaks will continue as a matter of urgency.
Ms Quin: With effect from 24 May, there will be a ban on the swill feeding of catering waste which contains meat or has been in contact with meat to livestock. This ban also includes the feeding of poultry slaughterhouse waste and wet fish as swill.
Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the countries where farm animal diseases are widespread from which (a) meat, (b) meat products, (c) poultry and (d) poultry products are imported, indicating the country and disease together with the amount imported over the last year for which figures are available; and what plans he has to ban such imports. 
Ms Quin: The Community's animal and public health import requirements for animal products include disease control provisions. In particular these relate to the List A notifiable diseases of the Office International des Epizooties which include foot and mouth disease, and classical swine fever among others. Unless third countries can demonstrate that they have veterinary and public health facilities to cope with possible outbreaks of these diseases they will not be eligible to export animal products into the Community.
Imports of meat and poultry and their products are allowed from third countries which have outbreaks of diseases, but only if they can attest and demonstrate that they have in place animal and public health safeguard measures as laid down in Community law. Where any of these measures are not met the UK will prohibit the import of products which may cause risk to public or animal health. My officials are preparing information on the amount of imports into the UK last year of meat and poultry and their products from countries or parts thereof which have had outbreaks of List A diseases in the last year. I will write to the hon. Member with this information in the near future and place a copy in the Libraries of the House.
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Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food from which countries where standards of animal (i) welfare and (ii) health and hygiene are lower than those in the UK, (a) meat, (b) meat products, (c) poultry and (d) poultry products are imported; and what plans he has to prohibit such imports. 
Ms Quin: World Trade Organisation rules do not permit us to use animal welfare considerations as a criterion for the import of meat and poultry. I do not in any case believe that restricting trade is necessarily the answer. It is far better to work, as we do, to improve welfare standards across the EU and in third countries.
On health and hygiene, imports into the UK of meat and poultry and their products are governed by Community legislation, which protects both animal and public health requirements. Under these rules only third countries approved by the Commission may import into the Community and subsequently imports may start only when the Commission agrees a list of establishments in that country which meet established Community hygiene standards. The lists of countries and establishments allowed to import into the Community the products listed are available on the Commission's website at: http://forum.europa.eu.int/irc/sanco/vets/info/data/listes/ table0.h tml.
Responsibility for ensuring that third countries meet these requirements lies with the Food and Veterinary Office of the European Commission. The UK will prohibit the importation of animal products that do not meet Community standards.
Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what information he has collated about the level of Government aid paid to the fishing industry of other EU member states; 
Mr. Todd: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the disease risks from the proposed importation of poultry meat from the People's Republic of China. 
Ms Quin: EU law establishes the requirements for the importation into the EU of fresh poultry meat from third countries. The European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office is responsible for carrying out inspections in third countries from which meat is imported. They need to be satisfied that any third country is complying with all the relevant community provisions before imports may be permitted.
Imports into the community of poultry meat from China were suspended in 1996 as their hygiene standards did not meet community import requirements. Following a number of Commission missions to inspect Chinese veterinary controls and hygiene standards, the
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Commission proposed to reinstate the specific areas of China previously allowed to export poultry meat as they once again met all Community requirements. Imports could not restart until a list of approved establishments had been drawn up. This has now been done and member states agreed on 24 April to permit the resumption of exports from approved establishments in China from 24 May.
Ms Quin [holding answer 27 April 2001]: These requirements are currently implemented by the Transport of Animals (Cleansing and Disinfection)(England)(No. 2) Order 2000 (SI 2000/1618), which came into force on 6 July 2000. The main provision of this Order is that, subject to certain exemptions, livestock transports should be cleansed and disinfected after each use. Guidance on the Order was issued in November 2000 to all members of the State Veterinary Service and to local authorities who enforce the Order.
Mr. Todd: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answer of 30 April 2001, Official Report, column 501W, on flood defence, if he will list the pilot studies being undertaken; and when they will be assessed. 
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