§ Mr. Morley
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the illegal import of birds from non-EU countries into the United Kingdom through other EU countries.
§ Mrs. Browning
In the absence of harmonised detailed animal health rules for the quarantine of captive birds imported into the Community from third countries, and in the light of a number of other factors including the presence of Newcastle disease in several member states, the Government decided in December 1993 to maintain,334W temporarily, the requirement that all captive birds imported in the United Kingdom, whether directly from a third country, or from or through another member state, undergo a period of at least 35 days quarantine in approved quarantine premises. The only exception to this requirement are those birds imported from other member states which are accompanied by official veterinary certification confirming, among other things, that the birds in question have been resident in a member state for a period of least 35 days or, if imported into the Community from a third country, have undergone an equivalent period of quarantine before import into the United Kingdom.
The Ministry is concerned about reports of illegal imports of birds from third countries into the United Kingdom via other member states which are intended to evade quarantine. Such imports pose a serious disease risk to the UK poultry industry and to the domestic captive bird population. Where information about illegal importations is sufficiently precise the Ministry's investigation branch undertakes formal investigations, in liaison with local authorities, who are responsible for the enforcement of the relevant import legislation. A number of investigations are currently under way.