HC Deb 19 May 2004 vol 421 cc982-4W
Mr. Boris Johnson

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of the replies received by the Department by(a) 26 April 2001 and (b) 1 May 2001 in response to the consultation document that preceded the ban on swill feeding (a) were against the ban, (b) were in favour of the ban and (c) expressed no preference. [166754]

Mr. Bradshaw

The answer I gave the hon. Member on 30 March,Official Report, column 1305W, on swill feeding incorrectly stated that we had received 357 responses. The correct number is 330. The previous response included some duplicated responses. As a result the percentage of responses supporting a ban was also incorrect in the answer of 30 March for which I apologise.

The date of receipt of the responses (other than those by e-mail) is not recorded. It is not possible therefore to give the figures with the degree of accuracy that you seek. I have, however, had the responses reviewed and recounted. Respondents replied to a consultation document that asked a series of questions. The questions were: (a) Should swill feeding of catering waste containing animal by-products be banned? (b) If yes, should (i) fish and poultry animal by-products fed on-farm be included in the ban, and (ii) non-meat containing catering waste be included in the ban? [It was explained that a ban on all catering waste would include non-meat containing catering waste e.g. bread, brewers waste.] (c) Should a three-four week transitional period apply? (d) any other comments, including on whether or not it would be practicable to place obligations on the producers of catering waste e.g. restaurants to ensure that it is not fed to animals; and [comments] on the enclosed draft Order.

Some respondents tailored their responses to five options set out in the Regulatory Impact Assessment. Those were: (a) Do nothing, i.e. permit the feeding of swill under current controls. (b) Tighten up current controls. (c) Ban the feeding of catering waste (waste from kitchens, restaurants and some food factories) and processed poultry and fish waste as swill. (d) Ban the feeding of catering waste and poultry as swill. (e) Ban the feeding of swill and all catering waste (including that which does not contain meat or meat products e.g. biscuits, yoghurts, brewers grain, vegetable waste, etc).

In view of the detailed questions asked by the consultation document it is not surprising that the replies were often equally diverse and detailed. But the responses have been re-read as objectively as possible to place them in the categories you seek.

There were 303 responses dated by the sender on or before 26 April.

Those against the ban on the swill feeding of catering waste that contains animal by-products totalled 77 (26 per cent.).

Those that were in favour of a ban on swill feeding of catering waste that contains meat or meat products totalled 105 (35 per cent.). There was an additional 35 (12 per cent) that favoured a complete ban on swill feeding of all catering waste including non-meat waste. The combined figures of these respondents total 140 (46 per cent.) in favour.

There were 31 (10 per cent) respondents where no particular preference was stated.

An additional 55 (18 per cent.) respondents were against a ban being extended to non-meat waste foods, e.g. from millers, vegetable producers, brewers, etc.

Between 27 April and 1 May there were three additional responses (one against, one in favour of a ban on swill feeding meat waste, and one no preference). One further response was received after 1 May which was against a ban.

There were also an additional 23 undated responses. 11 were against a ban, three favoured a ban on all catering waste (i.e. including non-meat waste), eight favoured a ban on swill feeding meat waste and one was against an extended ban to non-meat waste.

In total therefore, of all responses received, 208 (63 per cent.) respondees supported a ban on swill feeding of catering waste containing meat. There were 90 (27 per cent) against a ban and 32 (10 per cent) where no preference was expressed.

I believe the House can be reassured therefore that not only was there a numerical majority in favour of a ban but also that it was widely supported when account is taken of the support expressed from associations that represented large memberships (including the NFU, Tenant Farmers Association, the British Pig Association, the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers, the National Beef Association, the National Consumer Council, the Meat and Livestock Commission and qualified support from the National Pig Association).

All the responses were placed in the library after the consultation period, which was in accordance with normal procedures, and the responses continue to be available for others to scrutinise.

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