HC Deb 06 April 2001 vol 366 cc319-20W
Ms Oona King

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received from the RSPCA regarding animal welfare during mass slaughter programmes. [156967]

Mr. Morley

Mr. Chris Laurence, Chief Veterinary Officer of the RSPCA, wrote to my right hon. Friend the Minister on 22 March seeking assurances concerning the welfare of animals destined for slaughter as a result of FMD. Subsequently officials from the RSPCA have visited Great Orton on two occasions to witness the disposal of animals at risk from FMD. I understand that both were satisfied that the welfare of the animals prior to slaughter remained a primary concern of the teams involved in their disposal. I recently met the RSPCA and other welfare organisations to discuss slaughter and other welfare matters.

Mr. Waterson

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action his Department is taking to relieve pressure from banks on farmers and businesses affected by the foot and mouth crisis. [155426]

Mr. Meacher

I have been asked to reply.

On behalf of the Rural Task Force I have met representatives of the clearing banks to discuss issues raised by the impact of foot and mouth disease on rural businesses.

The banks have made it clear to me that they understand the problems being faced by businesses from all sectors affected by the foot and mouth outbreak. Wherever possible they are keen to support their customers and any customers in difficulty or expecting problems to arise should contact their manager locally as soon as possible to discuss the options that may be available.

The banks have also told me that they recognise that there will be longer term viability issues for some businesses arising as a result of the foot and mouth outbreak and that they will be pleased to work with the Government's Small Business Service to explore options including extension of the scope of the Small Firms Loans Guarantee Scheme to assist businesses in these circumstances.