HC Deb 02 July 2003 vol 408 c14WS
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Margaret Beckett)

As required under (Section 10A of the 1981 Animal Health Act) the Government will publish today a review of controls on the import of animal products for the financial year 2002–03.

Government action during the period led to a threefold increase in the number of seizures of illegal imports of meat and animal products. This improvement was delivered by following three key principles: evidence-based policy; investment in enforcement; and securing better public engagement and awareness.

The publication of the results of an assessment of the risks of foot and mouth disease entering the country through illegally imported meat has provided a basis to inform policy and help target enforcement.

Additional resources were provided to existing enforcement agencies pending a review of enforcement structures that resulted in the transfer to HM Customs and Excise of responsibility for prevention of smuggling of these goods. A publicity campaign was run using a variety of methods to capture public attention.

Looking to the future, the review describes the development of a new enforcement strategy at borders designed to respond better to changing risks and intelligence. Awareness and partnership building will continue both in the UK and in the international arena. Progress on all activities will be closely monitored.

Copies of the review will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and on the DEFRA Illegal Imports website http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/illegali/.

The total amount spent on the illegal imports programme for 2002–03 was just over £3.7 million.