Select Committee on European Communities Report


Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to Jeffrey Rooker MP, Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

  Sub-Committee D yesterday considered your explanatory memorandum on the proposed amendment to Directive 64/432/EEC concerning the computerised tracing system for cattle. The Sub-Committee has asked me to write to you seeking explanation of the issues below and the scrutiny reserve is maintained pending your reply.

  The Sub-Committee shares your concern that any further requirements introduced by the Commission should take fully into account that Member States' systems are already well under development. The Sub-Committee notes that you are to raise this issue with the Commission (explanatory memorandum paragraph 9) and would like to be informed of its response. The Sub-Committee suggests that the Commission should consult fully with Member States before bringing forward any new requirements.

  The Sub-Committee notes that the Minister of Agriculture recently announced that the British Cattle Movement Service is to be launched on 28 September. It would be a serious and potentially costly development should the Commission require changes after or close to this date.

  The Sub-Committee agrees with the Minister that the system will offer real opportunities for the British Cattle Industry, especially towards rebuilding confidence in British cattle and beef. It notes, however, that as well as securing public confidence, the confidence of the farming community in the system and their acceptance of it must be achieved. The Sub-Committee would value your comments on this.

23 April 1998

Letter from Jeff Rooker MP, Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  Thank you for your letter of 23 April on Explanatory Memorandum 6241/98 on this subject.

  Sub-Committee D raised two specific concerns:

    (a)  regarding the possibility that the new Commission rules might cut across the computerised Cattle Tracing System being developed in Great Britain, Jack Cunningham has made clear his concerns about this in a letter sent to Mr Fischler. Officials will follow up this point when discussions begin in Brussels on the Commission proposal, which is not now expected to be the case until June, or possibly later. I will inform the Sub-Committee of developments, as the position becomes clearer;

    (b)  the Sub-Committee pointed out that as well as securing public confidence, the confidence of the farming community in the Cattle Tracing System and their acceptance of it must be achieved. I agree that livestock farmers and others involved in the industry will need to become very familiar with the reporting of cattle movements, births and deaths. Last month we issued an information leaflet which was sent to every cattle farmer in Great Britain. I attach a copy for you (not printed). Further information leaflets are planned at regular intervals up to the 28 September launch date. We also plan to publicise the new arrangements via adverts in the farming press, the Internet, and presentations at agricultural shows and on other suitable occasions. We are involving the livestock industry closely in the Cattle Tracing System project: there are farming (and I might add, consumer and retailer) representatives on the project board responsible for introducing the system.

  I hope this further information is helpful to you.

10 May 1998

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