HC Deb 22 July 2004 vol 424 cc478-9
10. Mr. Paul Goodman (Wycombe) (Con)

What recommendations her Department makes in relation to the disposal of carcases from farms. [185752]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw)

Fallen stock must be disposed of in accordance with the EU animal by-products regulation. An industry-led fallen stock collection scheme, backed by Government funding, is expected to be introduced this autumn.

Mr. Goodman

Given that carcases now cannot be buried on farms and that the new scheme has not come in yet, what would the Minister say to farmers in my constituency who are quite reasonably concerned that they cannot find an outlet for disposal at reasonable cost?

Mr. Bradshaw

If the hon. Gentleman would care to write to me with details of where farmers are having that sort of difficulty, I will happily look into them. Farmers should be complying with the regulations, but the Government made it clear when we initially signalled our intention to set up the fallen stock scheme that, until the scheme was up and running, we would expect the local authorities, which are the enforcers in this matter, to act with a light touch.

Mr. James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Con)

Since we last met at oral questions, the Minister has answered a series of written questions on the statistics relating to disposal of carcases. He made it plain that DEFRA does not collect statistics on whether carcases are disposed of in hunt kennels, knackers' yards or elsewhere and does not know how carcases are disposed of. How does he account for his answer at a previous DEFRA oral question time, that hunt kennels play a role, but it is small in terms of the amount of stock they collect."—[Official Report, 20 May 2004; Vol. 421, c. 1079.] As he does not collect the figures and does not know who disposes of carcases at the moment, how can he, or for that matter the chairman of the National Fallen Stock Company, know what effect the abolition of hunting would have on the disposal of dead stock?

Mr. Bradshaw

We do not have the exact figures, but the "small" role to which I referred in my previous answer was based on estimates and the agreed view of the National Farmers Union, the renderers and the knackers. They have made it clear on many occasions that, while hunts play a role in some parts of the country, they collect a relatively small quantity of fallen stock and the renderers and knackers have ample capacity to fulfil the role 100 per cent. should the hunts not be interested in doing it any more.

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