§ Mr. Tyler
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the estimated cost, in its first year, of the meat hygiene service; what proportion of that figure will be extracted from the meat industry; and what will be the budgetary treatment of any surplus or deficit in its trading account.
§ Mrs. Browning
The running costs of the meat hygiene service in 1995–96 are currently estimated at approximately £46 million, excluding certain one-off316W items relating to the establishment of the agency and to the transfer of staff from local authorities.
Invitations to tender have been issued to potential contract staff and suppliers. The terms and conditions of employees transferring to the agency are currently being confirmed with local authorities. These exercises will produce more detailed costings, which will be made available both to the industry as part of the on-going process of consultation and to other interested parties.
It is anticipated that the agency will set charges to recover the majority of normal running costs from the fresh meat industry within the provisions of the relevant charging legislation. Set-up costs will, however, be funded by MAFF.
Legislation does not allow charges above the real cost. It is not currently anticipated that a substantial deficit will arise on the provision of services by the agency.