HC Deb 19 November 1998 vol 319 cc787-8W
Mr. David Taylor

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he has taken to ensure that (i) welfare, (ii) quality and (iii) traceability standards in the pig industry are raised in the European and international contexts; and if he will make a statement. [57787]

Mr. Morley

[holding answer 3 November 1998): The Government have made clear their view that EU Directive 91/630 does not adequately protect the welfare of pigs and that EU standards should be improved to address their welfare needs. We will continue to press the European Commission for the early publication of its proposals for revision of the Directive. During the UK Presidency, the need for the EU to develop a strategy for achieving a more global basis for high farm animal welfare standards was placed firmly on the EU agenda.

I believe the higher quality standards met by British pig producers are a positive marketing advantage. The Government and the Meat and Livestock Commission are supporting the UK pig industry's initiatives to improve the quality of the domestic product. This will be emphasised by the introduction of the British Meat Standard for Quality Assured Pigmeat; a single independently audited quality assurance scheme. Such a scheme will allow retailers and caterers to highlight the advantages of the British product to the consumer.

The principal Community rules relating to the traceability standards for pigs are laid down in Council Directive 92/102/EEC on the identification and registration of animals. The European Commission sent a report to the Council earlier this year on the operation of this Directive. We have consulted with interested organisations on the report and are ready to discuss the issues in both the European and, as necessary, the international context.