§ Mr. Beith
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps his Department took to inform poultry processors of the EEC Council directive of 21 December 1976 on health problems affecting intra-community trade in meat production, and when this information was given to them; why his Department informed processors on 31 May 1978 by letter that full implementation would be delayed until July 1980; why this advice 320W has now been withdrawn; and whether he is satisfied that processors can now meet the deadline of July 1979, despite the need in some factories for extensive construction work.
§ Mr. Wiggin
The text of the directive was published in the Official Journal of the European Communities on 31 January 1977 (No. L26). Representatives of the red meat and poultry meat industry were kept informed of progress before adoption of the directive and since. All known exporters of meat products were sent a note on the subject based on the directive and reminded of the need to apply for approval of their premises.
On 2 May 1979 companies were informed of a European Commission proposal to defer implementation of the directive by one year to 1 July 1980. Warning was given that the outcome was uncertain and inspection of premises would therefore continue with a view to approval before 1 July 1979. It subsequently became clear from discussions in Brussels that postponement would not be agreed and companies were notified accordingly on 31 May.
A number of companies have been planning for some time to meet the directive's requirements and may expect their premises to be approved for export of meat products to the Community by 1 July. Officials of my Department are ready to give all possible help to companies facing difficulties.