Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from Ben Bradshaw MP, Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to the Chairman

  I am writing to inform your Committee of the current position on this dossier, in particular, that the Austrian Presidency are hoping to broker a First Reading deal with the European Parliament.

  When the European Scrutiny Committee last considered this dossier, we informed them that Government was seeking clarification on two elements of the proposal—the re-definition of mechanically separated meat (MSM), and the restrictions to be imposed on holdings where scrapie is suspected.

  We were seeking clarification on the definition of MSM as the definition provided would have policy implications. This was because it appeared significantly different from the interpretation provided to the Food Standards Agency in February 2005. We have since received clarification from the Commission and the latest draft of the proposed TSE Regulation is acceptable to the UK as it is in line with our own domestic legislation.

  On the restrictions to be imposed on holdings where scrapie is suspected, the Commission has subsequently clarified that these would only apply to sheep and goats. Movements of bovine animals would not be affected. The proposal has been amended to reflect this.

  As I have mentioned above, Parliament have proposed amendments to the proposal and the Austrian Presidency has recently presented a compromise proposal, hoping to broker a First Reading deal. The current draft covers the same main areas as the previous draft but there have been some additions, which the UK government believes does not change the main elements of the current Regulation. It maintains the key BSE and TSE controls but does not reduce the level of protection of public and animal health. The European Parliament is due to vote on their final proposals in the week commencing 15 May. It is anticipated that the dossier will then go to Council towards the end of June for a Common Position.

  The key areas of the compromise proposal are that it provides the basis for country BSE risk classification (required at the latest by 1 July 2007 when current arrangements lapse) and maintains the current ban on the feeding of fishmeal to ruminants whilst providing for the feeding of fishmeal to calves (subject to strict control measures to be sent by comitology). There is also a requirement to maintain human and animal health protection when changes are made to the Regulations (for example in relation to the requirements for TSE testing).

  The UK will be asked to confirm support for the Presidency's proposed compromise proposal at COREPER on 10 May for a First Reading deal. I have agreed that because of the short timescale needed to give such agreement, the UK will support this proposal. I would be grateful if your Committee could consider the proposals further to indicate support before the Council meeting in June.

8 May 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Ben Bradshaw MP

  Thank you for your letter of 8 May 2006 which Sub-Committee D (Environment and Agriculture) considered at its meeting on 24 May 2006.

  You previously wrote to explain that the Government were seeking clarification on two aspects of the proposal. First, that the proposed change in the definition of mechanically recovered meat should not differ significantly from the current interpretation. Second, that the proposed amendment to restrict the movement of bovine animals on a holding where scrapie is suspected should not be disproportionate to the risk. We are pleased that a satisfactory resolution to these concerns has now been found. However, we would be interested to know whether the National Sheep Association were consulted on these issues, and whether they agree with the Government that they have been satisfactorily resolved.

  The Committee cleared the proposal from scrutiny in June 2005. Your letter provided a useful update on progress of the proposal.

25 May 2006

Letter from Ben Bradshaw MP to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 25 May requesting information on whether the National Sheep Association had been consulted on issues arising from a previous draft of the proposal about mechanically recovered meat (MRM) and the restriction of bovines on premises where scrapie is found.

  Defra did not consult directly on the draft of the Regulations, as the amendments were of a technical nature. However, as you know, we did consult on the Commission's linked TSE Roadmap on the changes to TSE controls which might be appropriate in the future. There was no previous definition of MRM in the EU TSE Regulation but there was a definition in the UK's domestic Regulations. The new proposed EU definition is in line with the current domestic definition so in this case there is no change to consult upon.

  The latest text whereby restrictions are only imposed on sheep and goats on a holding where a case of scrapie is suspected reflects current wording in Annex VII of the TSE regulation with which the National Sheep Association is content.

11 July 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Ben Bradshaw MP

  Thank you for your letter of 11 July concerning the consultations which were carried out on the draft of these Regulations. Sub-Committee D (Environment and Agriculture) took note of the position at its meeting on 19 July.

20 July 2006

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2007