§ Andrew George
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what financial assessment he has made of the impact of European Commission Regulation COM (2002) 377 on abattoirs in the UK; what discussions he has had and what representations he has received on European Commission Regulation COM (2002) 377; what steps he is taking to assist abattoirs in meeting the requirements of the Regulation; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Ms Blears
[holding answer 13 January 2003]: The Food Standards Agency has published an initial regulatory impact assessment on its website as part of its stakeholder consultation on the Commission's proposed Regulation COM (2002) 377. That Regulation will provide rules for official controls on abattoirs. The Agency estimates the costs to the meat sector would be approximately neutral, although some abattoirs would benefit from reduced levels of veterinary supervision. How costs fall between industry and government will be dependent on a proposal for a further Regulation on official feed and food controls expected to be published shortly.
The Agency's consultations on the Commission's official controls proposals have elicited a number of responses, many expressing concern should the proposals result in new unjustified burdens and costs on the abattoir sector. In addition the previous Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health (Yvette Cooper) received representations and had discussions with UNISON over the union's concerns that the proposal contained provisions allowing plant staff to carry out tasks currently undertaken by its members. I have received similar representations.