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Lord Donoughue: Since the beginning of June, a number of imported beef forequarters containing small sections of spinal cord have been discovered by Meat Hygiene Service and State Veterinary Service staff at a cutting plant in Great Britain. These forequarters all originated from slaughterhouses in the Republic of Ireland and have been destroyed.
In response to the Chief Veterinary Officer's request for urgent action by the authorities in the Republic of Ireland, the veterinary authorities there have undertaken to penalise the veterinary inspectors responsible for certifying the beef. They have also told the Irish Meat Association that any failure by a member company to implement the specified risk material controls will result in the withdrawal of the supplementary certification for export to the UK. Their unannounced inspections will also be stepped up. Meat Hygiene Service staff at licensed cutting plants and local authorities are being asked to pay particular attention to beef carcasses imported from the Republic of Ireland.
Since March 1996, the State Veterinary Service's audit has found no spinal cord specified risk material in beef derived from animals slaughtered in Great Britain. The results of these audits are published in the monthly BSE Enforcement Bulletin.
The Government have accepted the VPC's advice that, although there is no evidence that the products concerned are harmful if used in accordance with recommended precautions, marketing authorisation holders should provide additional data to demonstrate the safety of their products. If they are unable to provide such data, the Government will take further advice from the VPC on appropriate regulatory action.
Lord Donoughue: The chairman of the agency has provided my honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary with a report of progress up to the end of June 1999. Copies have been placed in the House Libraries.
We were pleased to note that the agency remains on course for completing the substantial work programme set out in the action plan. In line with the priorities that we set out last October, the agency has received an independent report on its management structures and skills base and the recommendations will be implemented by next April. An elaboration of the Environment Agency's flood defence supervisory duty was published in May, along with interim high level targets for the agency and other flood and coastal defence operating authorities. The agency is now working with others to ensure that flood and coastal defences are identified and inspected; the results recorded and assessed; and appropriate action to remedy defects put in hand. Consultation on further development of high level targets and the supervisory duty is in hand.
The programme of improvements to the agency's telemetry network is starting following MAFF agreement to grant aid work in England. The National Assembly for Wales is separately considering the telemetry programme in Wales.
Lord Donoughue: We are pleased to announce that the 1998-99 annual report and accounts for the Veterinary Laboratory Agency were laid before Parliament on 26 July 1999. Copies are available in the Library of the House.
Lord Donoughue: The reform of the CAP decided at the Berlin European Council introduced a number of policy areas where member states were given discretion as to whether and/or how they would be applied. In the information notes my right honourable friend the Minister circulated to the farming industry and other interested parties following that agreement he undertook to consult widely on the Government's plans in relation to these areas of discretion. He made clear that these
My right honourable friend intends accordingly to write to interested parties, including farming industry representatives, in the coming weeks setting out my ideas for such a strategy and how the discretionary aspects of the reformed CAP should be applied in this country to help set a new direction for the industry. The department will also be conducting a series of regional consultations. Copies of the consultation documents will be placed in the Library of the House. We will consider responses carefully and announce final decisions during the autumn.
Lord Donoughue: Following submission of the document in April, the UK Government have responded to a number of subsequent questions from the Secretariat to the Bern Convention and have supplied additional technical information. At the request of the secretariat, the information has been consolidated into a single document, which has been forwarded to the secretariat and is now being sent to delegates of the standing committee. A copy of this latest document, which supersedes the earlier one, has been placed in the Library of the House.
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