§ Mr. Buchan
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received about New York dressed poultry in relation to the implementation of the EEC poultry meat directives; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Peart
The Poultry Meat (Hygiene) Regulations 1976, which were laid before Parliament today, take into account the views of a wide range of interests. The regulations specify the hygiene standards that are to be observed in poultry slaughterhouses, cutting-up premises and stores and require official inspection of the poultry meat produced. Parallel regulations are being made for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The main requirements of the regulations will begin to take effect from 1st January 1977, but they will be applied gradually so as to allow the poultry meat industry and the local authorities responsible for enforcement of the regulations sufficient time to make the necessary arrangements. When these requirements are fully operational in three years' time, the great bulk of the poultry meat produced in this country will come from plants working to the high standards already required for export consignments, and the whole of that production will be eligible for export.
The inspection of poultry meat will be undertaken by trained poultry meat inspectors employed by local authorities and working mainly under the supervision and responsibility of official veterinary surgeons. The regulations assign functions and responsibilities to official veterinary surgeons, environmental health officers and poultry meat inspectors.
The local authorities providing the service are empowered to recover their full costs by making charges on the industry. It is the Government's intention that no cost should fall on local authorities. When the service is fully developed—from 1979–80 onwards—the average inspection cost per bird is likely to be about one penny.778W
The regulations include special exemptions to permit the sale of uneviscerated—New York dressed—poultry. In particular, the sale by producers of their own "dry plucked" poultry—the type which is sold predominantly at Christmas—will not be subject to the regulations. These exemptions, which will be reviewed in due course in the light of developments, will serve to ensure that the demand for uneviscerated poultry continues to be met.
I am glad to acknowledge the constructive attitude taken by the organisations primarily concerned in the course of consultations on these proposals.
§ Mr. Buchan
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about a scheme of assistance to the poultry meat processing industry.
§ Mr. Peart
With the agreement of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry, I am able to announce that £5 million is to be made available for a scheme of assistance for the poultry meat processing industry introduced under Section 8 of the Industry Act 1972. The purpose of this scheme, which has been drawn up after discussion with industry representatives, is to maintain productive capacity in the industry by helping it to modernise its buildings, plant and equipment in response to the requirements of EEC directives on poultry meat hygiene. Assistance will most usually take the form of grants of 20 per cent. towards approved expenditure, but additional help will be available to small firms in certain circumstances. Full details of the scheme are set out in notes which have been prepared for the guidance of applicants. I am placing copies of this document in the Library of the House.