§ Mr. McLeish
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the total number of staff involved in the Meat Hygiene Service in each year since 1989–90; what are the planned numbers of staff for each of the years 1996–97 to 1998–99. 
§ Mrs. Browning
[holding answer 2 April 1996]: I have asked the chief executive of the Meat Hygiene Service to reply to the hon. Member direct.
Letter from J. McNeill to Mr. Henry McLeish, dated 3 April 1996:As Chief Executive of the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) your question concerning the number of staff employed by the MHS has been passed to me for reply. The Meat Hygiene Service was launched on 1 April 1995 as an Executive Agency of MAFF. It took over from some 300 local authorities responsibility for enforcement of the hygiene and welfare at slaughter legislation in licensed meat premises in England, Scotland and Wales. Consequently there are no MHS staff numbers prior to that date.The MHS currently employs 509 red meat and 163 poultry meat inspectors on a full time basis. In addition it utilises 69 inspectors (62 red meat; 7 white) on fixed term contracts of 100 weeks duration. There is also a pool of 222 staff (203 red; 19 white) used on a casual basis. As you will appreciate, these last two sets of figures in particular fluctuate according to demand.These meat inspection staff are supervised by Official Veterinary Surgeons (OVSs). The MHS directly employs 39 OVSs and in addition contracts out work to 110 full time equivalent vets to supplement them. 3 vets are also utilised on a casual basis.Staff numbers for future years will depend on the actual number of plants operating at the time and any policy developments, as recently on SBO controls. No definitive figures are available at this time.