HC Deb 01 February 1999 vol 324 cc439-40W
Mr. Salmond

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what assessment he has made of the welfare implications of the requirement that farmers tag or tattoo all lambs for sale; what representations he has received on this issue; what discussions he has had with the European Union about this requirement; what estimate he has made of the additional cost to Scottish farmers of this requirement; what is the legal basis for this requirement; and for what reasons the requirement is being introduced. [68002]

Mr. Macdonald

EC Council Directive 92/102, which requires all sheep to be tagged or tattooed before they leave the holding of birth, was adopted in November 1992. The Directive requires Member States to establish a system of identifying and registering animals. The Scottish agricultural industry is being consulted on how best to meet this legal requirement. Questions about the practicality of unique tagging of animals, the costs associated with doing so and the necessary additional record-keeping involved have all been raised during the consultations and are under consideration. The flexibility allowed within the Directive as to when to apply the tag should help minimise welfare concerns. It is estimated that tagging sheep in according with the Directive could cost about approximately £2 million.

From 1 July 1999 this will be a matter for the Scottish Parliament.