§ Mr. McLeish
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his latest assessment of the hygiene standards in red meat slaughterhouses in England and Wales. 
§ 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.343W
Letter from J. McNeill to Mr. Henry McLeish, dated 3 April 1996:As Chief Executive of the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS), your questions regarding hygiene standards in red meat slaughterhouses in England, Scotland and Wales have been passed to me for reply. Since early 1994 the Hygiene Assessment System (HAS) has been operating in red meat slaughterhouses. HAS is the method developed by the State Veterinary Service to assess and monitor hygiene standards in slaughterhouses. HAS looks at the specific aspects of performance within five main categories-ante-mortem, slaughter and dressing, personnel and practices, maintenance and hygiene of premises and general conditions and management.As you may know, the MHS took over responsibility for inspection in licensed fresh meat premises in England, Scotland and Wales on 1 April 1995. This work was previously undertaken by local authorities. One of the targets set by Ministers for the MHS in 1995/96 was to establish a benchmark of HAS scores in licensed slaughterhouses. Information on the benchmark scores will be published in the MHS annual report, due to be published later this year. Copies of that report will be placed in the Library of the House.