§ 7. Mrs. Anne Campbell (Cambridge)
What recent representations he has received concerning the impact of agricultural trade liberalisation on farm animal welfare. 
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Elliot Morley)
I have received a number of such representations. We support the European Commission in its recent formal proposal to the World Trade Organisation, which explicitly calls for animal welfare to be considered in trade liberalisation negotiations. The proposal was tabled by the EU Commission in Geneva in December, with the unanimous support of EU member states.
§ Mrs. Campbell
I thank my hon. Friend the Minister for that reply. Does he agree that it would be a disaster if trade liberalisation were to mean that UK livestock was exported to countries with lower animal welfare standards? Will he give the House an assurance that Britain will be at the forefront of EU efforts to place this matter high on the agenda in the next WTO round of negotiations?
§ Mr. Morley
I can certainly give my hon. Friend that assurance. The issue has been raised by the UK and the European Union. It did not feature in the previous World Trade Organisation talks, and it is a welcome step forward that it will now do so.
In relation to the higher standards being implemented by UK and European Union farmers, consideration is given to issues of quality standards in the context of globalisation and liberalisation of trade. It is legitimate that those issues be raised in the context of the WTO talks, and they will be.
§ Mr. Tim Yeo (South Suffolk)
In the context of moves towards more trade liberalisation, do the Government share the concerns of many poultry farmers that some imported poultry may have been reared using growth-promoting drugs that have been banned throughout Europe on health grounds? Are there any circumstances in which the Government would consider blocking such imports?
§ Mr. Morley
Under this Government, we now have an independent body—the Food Standards Agency—responsible for monitoring the safety and quality of food coming into this country. Quality standards are monitored in the UK and throughout the EU, with further inspections of plants in third countries. If the FSA has evidence of a problem, it will make recommendations to the Government, who will have no hesitation in acting on them.
§ Kali Mountford (Colne Valley)
Farmers in my constituency have no problem keeping within the guidelines for animal welfare. They keep their livestock to a very high standard, but are concerned about the quality of imports. What advice does my hon. Friend the Minister have for those farmers on informing consumers 434 of the high quality of animal welfare in this country, and advising them how to make decisions when buying their meat?
§ Mr. Morley
A number of quality assurance schemes are already in place, supported by a range of bodies, including the red tractor standard supported by the National Farmers Union. Consumers should consider that information carefully. The Government are keen to ensure that consumers have as much information as possible, so that they can make informed choices and use consumer power to support our producers, who are applying the very high standards that people want.