HL Deb 22 December 1988 vol 502 cc1457-8

11.18 a.m.

Lord Molloy asked Her Majesty's Government:

What problems remain to be resolved in respect of veterinary education, science and practice in the period before the completion of the internal market.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Trumpington)

My Lords, I am not aware of any such problems in connection with completion of the internal market.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, that is an extremely sad Answer. The Minister says that she is not aware, so I shall have to inform her of the concerns of Britain's veterinary surgeons. Is she aware that in the run-up to the completion of the internal market there has been a dramatic increase in the number of vets coming here from other countries? British vets are very anxious about the rumour that the findings of the Riley report may lead to the closure of two veterinary schools. Is she further aware that, in addition to vets from the EC, young trainee vets are coming here from Commonwealth countries as well as from Ireland and South Africa? This means that the vets coming into Great Britain constitute half the numbers being trained. British vets think that that is too high a figure. Is the Minister aware—

Noble Lords


Lord Molloy

My Lords, is the Minister aware that the increase in animal health research is a topical subject? Vets are worried about disease in the animals we eat. With such a threat hanging over us they believe that there should be no moves to reduce the number of vets.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, European Community rules have pi ovided since 1980 for free movement of veterinary surgeons. This is made possible by harmonisation of veterinary education standards and qualifications across the Community.

With regard to the UGC working party, chaired by Sir Ralph Riley, the Riley review is considering the provision of veterinary education in the six veterinary schools and the scope for rationalisation; it is not explicitly addressing the future demand for veterinary graduates. The working party is expected to report to the UGC early in the New Year.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that reply. Would she be prepared for the department to consider talking to the president of the British Veterinary Association and its general secretary, which could he to the advantage of both the Government and British vets?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, my department is in constant touch with the veterinary profession and the RCVS. Perhaps I may say at this point—and I am sure that other people will agree with me—that the veterinary surgeons in this country have the highest possible qualifications and are simply splendid people.