HC Deb 09 July 1959 vol 608 cc1531-2
1. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the restrictions at present affecting the import of Irish cattle into Great Britain.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. J. B. Godber)

As the reply is rather long I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Hughes

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that this is a very valuable trade to both countries concerned and that it has a great tradition behind it? Will he say whether it is the policy of the Government to encourage or discourage it and will he make a statement on that trade in relation to the trade in Scottish cattle?

Mr. Godber

I would agree that this is an important trade. We have tried to strike a fair balance between the need to safeguard against the risk of the re-introduction of disease and the need to see that those in this country who rely on these cattle as stores get an adequate supply. I think that we have a fair balance.

Following is the information: Although cattle from Ireland may be freely landed at approved ports, this arrangement can at any time be suspended for disease reasons. Vessels carrying Irish cattle of attested status may not carry cattle not of that status on the same journey. All Irish cattle must be accompanied by a veterinary certificate given by the Government of the country of origin immediately before shipment. On arrival in this country they must be detained in isolation, examined by a veterinary inspector, and ear-tagged. Attested Irish cattle, and cattle which have passed one tuberculin test in Ireland within fourteen days of shipment must be accompanied by documents enabling each animal to be individually identified on arrival. Irish cattle may be moved under licence from the landing place only to a specially authorised market, or to other premises including a slaughterhouse. Special arrangements are made in authorised markets to segregate attested Irish cattle from other cattle. Subsequent movements of Irish cattle from markets must also be under licence. Except where the cattle go to a slaughterhouse they must be detained at their final destination for six days. Movements are allowed under licence during this period only for slaughter or export. Any Irish cattle remaining unsold in an authorised market must be detained for six days on approved accommodation premises. Irish attested and once-tested cattle may enter attested or eradication areas in this country and may join attested herds outside such areas. Once-tested cattle entering such areas or herds must be held in isolation for not less than sixty days at their final destination unless slaughtered before the expiry of that period. After the expiry of the period they are officially tested by the Ministry. If they pass they may join the herd. If they do not, and are in an eradication or attested area, they are slaughtered compulsorily and the owner compensated; if they are outside such an area, but on premises where there is an attested herd, the owner is given the choice of disposing of them himself. Untested Irish cattle may enter attested or eradication areas only for immediate slaughter and subject to their being marked in a prescribed manner.