§ 8. Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received on the effect of EC directives on small abattoirs in Wales.
§ Mr. Jones
The Secretary of State will be aware of the excellent news for Anglesey in the form of the opening of the Gaerwen meat plant. I congratulate the farming unions, the local authorities, the Welsh Development Agency and others who have worked so hard to reopen it.
The Secretary of State is aware that the main concern for small abattoirs has been the introduction of hygiene regulations by the European Community, which could lead to small abattoirs facing bills from veterinary surgeons of up to £40 an hour. That would virtually destroy the small abattoir industry in Wales, so can he assure us that small abattoirs will be exempt from the charges so that they can continue their excellent work?
§ Mr. Hunt
I am rather disappointed that the hon. Gentleman left out the Welsh Office from the list of those to whom he paid tribute. I am very pleased indeed that the £5 million investment by McIntosh Reynolds will go ahead, creating 230 jobs. I pay tribute to the officials in my office who, with all the agencies and local authorities that the hon. Gentleman mentioned, have been working extremely hard to make sure that the project goes ahead. I am sure that it was just an oversight on the hon. Gentleman's part.
I recognise that supervision by official veterinarians is a requirement of the directive. There may well be an increase in cost for the industry, but we have written to local authorities encouraging them to take practical measures to keep those costs down. I shall bear in mind the hon. Gentleman's point.