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Food Safety

Volume 164: debated on Thursday 11 January 1990

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19.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he is taking to ensure that the consumer has access to safe, wholesome food.

30.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to improve food safety in the United Kingdom.

62.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about his Ministry's work on food safety.

It is our policy to encourage the widest availability of wholesome, attractive foods throughout the country as set out in the recent White Paper, "Food Safety —Protecting the Consumer" (Cm. 732), and the Food Safety Bill. While encouraging freedom of choice, we give the highest priority to the safety of the consumer and examples of recent work to improve this are set out in the White Paper. For the future the Food Safety Bill sets out proposals for a wider, stronger and more flexible legislative base for improving food safety right through the food chain from the farm to the shop.My right hon. Friend has established a food safety directorate which brings together all the main aspects of the Ministry's food safety work. We shall continue to be advised by various independent expert committees on all aspects of food safety.

59.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to meet the local authority associations to discuss the role of environmental health officers in ensuring food safety.

My right hon. Friend maintains regular contacts with the enforcement authorities. In addition, I have recently met several local authority associations to discuss the enforcement of food safety legislation in the context of the Food Safety Bill and my officials are discussing with the local authority and enforcement associations the implementation of the Official Control of Foodstuffs Directive.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether requirements of food safety measures in the Food Safety Bill have been taken into account in the calculations of the standard spending assessment of metropolitan and non-metropolitan local authorities for 1990–91; and if he will make a statement.

The majority of new requirements involving costs to local authorities will be in regulations to be made after the Bill has received Royal Assent. Local authorities are unlikely to have to incur additional expenditure before 1 April 1991. This is why the additional £30 million to enable local authorities to enforce the additional requirements of the Bill is to be taken into account in the revenue support grant settlement for 1991–92.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will outline his consultation process with local authorities concerning the additional costs to them of the measures in the Food Safety Bill; if he will list those local authorities which have been consulted; and if he will make a statement.

Officials in the Departments concerned held discussions with a number of organisations and individuals from local authorities in order to assess the resources needed. The following local authority bodies were consulted:

  • The Institution of Environmental Health Officers;
  • The Association of District Councils;
  • The Association of County Councils;
  • The Local Authorities Co-ordinating Body on Trading Standards;
  • The Association of Public Analysts;
  • The Association of Metropolitan Authorities;
  • The Association of Port Health Authorities;
  • The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities;
  • The Institute of Trading Standards Administration.
The Government have announced that an additional £30 million will be taken into account in the revenue support grant for 1991–92 onwards. This has been widely welcomed.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will describe the formulation and basis of his calculation of the additional cost to local authorities of the Food Safety Bill; how he expects this to be distributed among (a) shire counties, (b) non-metropolitan districts and boroughs, and (c) metropolitan districts and boroughs including London; and if he will make a statement.

Officials in the Departments concerned consulted interested parties in order to assess the additional resources local authorities would need in order to finance the additional requirements arising from the Food Safety Bill. The Government concluded that an additional £30 million should be taken into account in the revenue support grant settlement for 1991–92 onwards. The additional resources will be distributed between local authorities according to the usual conventions.