§ Lord Kimball
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether the Plant Health Inspectorate is the front line in protecting the United Kingdom from non-indigenous pathogens; and whether sufficient funding is available to ensure that all suspicious plants are destroyed and paid for. [HL1159]
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty)
Defra's Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate is responsible for inspecting plants and plant produce under a plant quarantine surveillance programme covering both imports from third countries and consignments moving in trade. But resources are finite and industry must share responsibility for the ongoing surveillance of imported material (which may not exhibit symptoms of pests or diseases at the time of inspection) and must exercise caution in choosing suppliers when importing plants and produce to ensure that they are not importing known or unknown pests and diseases. Others, such as the general public and transport operators, also have responsibilities in ensuring that they do not bring pests and diseases into the country.
Powers to prevent the import of plants and plant products that may contain non-indigenous pathogens are contained in the Plant Health Order 1993. This provides an inspector with a number of options including serving a notice on the importer or other person requiring that such plants are destroyed.
The Government consider that so far as possible the financial risks associated with the destruction of imported or other plants that host non-indigenous pathogens should be borne by the parties concerned. Accordingly, the Government pay no compensation to importers or other persons for any financial loss resulting from the destruction of such plants.