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Volume 229: debated on Friday 23 July 1993

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether existing arrangements for the payment of compensation to producers whose poultry breeding flocks are slaughtered because of salmonella will continue when directive 92/117/EEC is implemented in Great Britain.

Producers will continue to receive compensation for poultry breeding flocks slaughtered because of salmonella when Directive 92/117/EEC is implemented in Great Britain. However, the Government has reviewed the existing legislative provisions for the slaughter of poultry, in particular schedule 3(5) of the Animal Health Act 1981, and concluded that they form an unsatisfactory basis for dealing with salmonella in poultry in that the absence of clinical signs in the live bird makes it difficult to distinguish between birds which are infected and those that are not. The Government believe that the principle of distinguishing between infected birds and non-infected birds for the purpose of assessing compensation is correct but that the existing legislation provides an insufficiently clear basis on which to do so.

The Government therefore intend to bring forward proposals as soon as parliamentary time permits and after full consultation with the industry, to amend the Animal Health Act 1981 so as to provide a clear statutory basis for the payment of compensation for birds compulsorily slaughtered because of salmonella. In the meantime, the Government proposed to pay full compensation for all birds compulsorily slaughtered because of salmonella, including those slaughtered since the policy was introduced in March 1989. Payment made since March 1989 will be adjusted accordingly.

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what arrangements she is making to implement directive 92/117/EEC with regard to the control of salmonella in poultry.

The Poultry Breeding Flocks and Hatcheries Order 1993, which brings existing arrangements for the testing and registration of poultry breeding flocks into line with those required under Directive 92/117/EEC, was made today and will come into force on 30 August.The size of breeding flocks subject to controls is to be raised from 25 to 250 birds. While the bacteriological testing arrangements for grandparent and elite flocks remain unchanged, those for parent breeding flocks are to be eased so that samples are taken and tested at the owner's expense every two weeks instead of every week as at present, and under the supervision of the Ministry every eight weeks instead of every four weeks as at present. Existing statutory testing requirements for breeding flocks of turkeys, ducks and geese will be replaced by voluntary arrangements. There will no longer be a requirement to test poultry breeding flocks for Salmonella pullorum.Breeding flocks of domestic fowl, turkeys, ducks and geese comprising 250 or more birds of a single species and hatcheries with an incubator capacity of more than 1,000 eggs will be required to register with Agriculture Departments on a simple "once and for all" basis and will no longer be subject to an annual inspection of the premises.The Government remain committed to firm action against salmonella and continued protection for the consumer while avoiding disproportionate burdens on producers. These changes, which have been the subject of full consultation with interested organisations, are being introduced in advance of the directive coming into force on 1 January 1994 and taken together with the ending of controls on commercial egg-laying flocks earlier this year will significantly reduce burdens on poultry producers and remove some of the disadvantages they currently bear due to more stringent controls compared with their counterparts in other member states.