HL Deb 15 July 2004 vol 663 cc158-60WA
Baroness Byford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What have been the costs of running the cattle tracing system and the animal movement licensing system for each of the years 2000 to 2003 and for 2004 to date. [HL3665]

Lord Whitty:

The direct running costs of the cattle tracing system (CTS) are set out in the table below:

CTS (£ million)
2000–01 13.25
2001–02 14.24
2002–03 15.79
2003–04 15.39
2004–05 2.34 (to 31/05/04)
14.90 (full year forecast)

The animal movements licensing system (AMLS) was introduced in September 2001. Enforcement of the livestock movements rules and data input to AMLS by local authorities constitute the main cost of running the system. It is not possible to separate these costs precisely from each other, or from payments made to local authorities for other work relating to animal health. We estimate, however, that in 2002–03 this work cost approximately £3.8 million and in 2003–04 £3.0 million. Figures for 2004–05 are not yet available because invoices come into the department in arrears, but systems are now in place to provide a more precise breakdown of costs once invoices have been received.

Baroness Byford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What impact the cattle tracing system will have on the employment levels of the British Cattle Movement Service; whether a target employment level has been set; and, if so, what that target is. [HL3668]

Lord Whitty:

The cattle tracing system (CTS) is being migrated to a new information platform in order to improve its reliability. The business case that supports the change did not seek to identify direct staff savings at the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) in Workington. However efficiency savings and the completion of short-term projects has enabled the BCMS to reduce the number of staff employed from 858, comprising 505 permanent and 353 agency staff, in November 2003 to 669, 492 permanent staff and 177 agency staff, in July 2004.

A long-term target employment level has not been set as this will depend upon the uptake of direct reporting by customers to the database via the CTS website. However, numbers are expected to decline further. Procedures are being put in place to extend the central database to cover the tracing of sheep, pigs and other farmed species but the impact of these changes on staff numbers has yet to be established.

The BCMS also delivers call centre services across core Defra. It merged with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) in April 2003 and is an integral part of the RPA's corporate structure.