HL Deb 12 November 2001 vol 628 cc60-2WA
Baroness Byford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 24 October (WA 133):

  1. (a) how many designated United Kingdom border inspection posts there are;
  2. (b) when the European Commission last inspected the United Kingdom border inspection posts, and whether they were considered adequate;
  3. (c) when the Food Standards Agency expects to have the results of its audits on enforcement standards; and
  4. (d) what further ways to improve the enforcement of import controls have been established, or are being considered. [HL981]

Lord Whitty

(a) There are 42 designated UK border inspection posts (BIPs), 30 of which are approved to deal with food imports; 10 take only products not for human consumption and 2 only live animals.

(b) European Commission veterinary experts carry out inspections to border inspection posts in each member state on a regular basis, taking in a number (but not all) of the BIPs during any one visit. They completed an inspection of BIPs in the UK on 26 October this year but have not yet produced a report.

(c) The Food Standards Agency's audit programme of local authorities commenced on 1 April 2001 and copies of reports on local authorities that have been audited are available on the agency's website (www. foodstandards.gov.uk ).

(d) All official veterinary surgeons responsible for border inspection posts undergo training organized by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on the import control requirements and we are currently setting up refresher courses. Checks at BIPs on legally presented consignments identify and prevent import of some 1,400 consignments a year (2.7 per cent of total consignments presented) that do not conform with Community requirements. DEFRA and the appropriate enforcement bodies are looking at the control measures to improve our ability to detect and prevent illegal imports of animal products outside BIPs. Amendments have been made to our national legislation to make it easier for local authorities to act when illegally imported animal products are found. Amendments to national legislation to provide enforcement authorities with wider powers to stop and inspect commercial consignments and personal baggage to reduce the risk of animal products being imported illegally are also being considered.