§ Miss McIntosh
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many meat inspectors were in place at points of entry for imported meat products in(a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999, (d) 2000 and (e) 2001. 
§ Ms Quin
This information is not held centrally. All meat imported from third countries into the UK must enter at designated UK Border Inspection Posts (BIP) where it is subject to veterinary inspections. The inspection services at the BIP are the responsibility of the local authority. Central Government have no powers to instruct the local authority over the number of inspectors. However, the BIP has to be approved by the Commission, whose inspectors conduct periodic inspections and who have to be satisfied that the inspection services are adequate. If they are not, the approval of the BIP may be suspended.
Meat produced within the EU may circulate freely in the single market, and is not subject to border checks. It is subject to checks at the point of destination within the UK. The Meat Hygiene Service has been instructed to step up levels of inspection at cutting plants and cold stores, to ensure that any increased volumes of imports (which could arise from the effects of the foot and mouth crisis) can be checked for the necessary health marks and correct documentation.