HC Deb 25 October 1956 vol 558 cc78-80W
Captain Duncan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will now make a statement about future policy with regard to slaughterhouses in Scotland.

Mr. J. Stuart

Yes. Having regard to the views which have been expressed by local authorities, it is not proposed to adopt the recommendations of the Scottish Interdepartmental Committee on Slaughterhouses so far as they relate to the setting up of new slaughterhouse authorities and the concentration of slaughtering in a relatively small number of central slaughterhouses located according to a national siting plan.

The general structure of the provisions relating to Scotland in the Slaughterhouses Act, 1954, will be retained. This means, in particular, that responsibility for the slaughterhouse service will continue in the hands of individual authorities who have a duty under the Act to satisfy themselves about the adequacy of the service in their districts, with power to provide public slaughterhouses where necessary and to register private slaughterhouses, in both cases subject to the Secretary of State's consent.

Experience shows that there is no widespread demand in Scotland for the reopening of the large number of slaughterhouses which were closed for the purpose of meat control. No appreciable increase in the number of slaughterhouses now operating is therefore expected, although circumstances may emerge in particular districts justifying the building of modern and well-equipped establishments either by the local authority or by private interests.

The most urgent need is to improve the conditions under which the slaughtering of animals takes place. For this purpose, it is proposed that standards of construction, equipment and maintenance should be prescribed to promote the hygienic handling of meat, proper meat inspection, satisfactory working conditions, and the humane treatment of animals in both existing and new slaughterhouses.

A period of grace would be allowed for compliance with these standards so far as this depended upon the carrying out of structural alterations at existing slaughterhouses, but the period would be extended in exceptional circumstances where the Secretary of State considered that this was justified.

Subject to this, it would be in the public interest that the Secretary of State should have power to direct the closure of any slaughterhouses, public or private, for non-compliance with the proposed standards, where necessary after a public local inquiry had been held into the circumstances of the case.

The Government will, as soon as practicable, propose legislation to secure these aims and the opportunity will be taken to amend the provisions relating to Scat-land in the Slaughterhouses Act, 1954, in one or two respects which experience has shown to be desirable.

Back to