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Illegal Food Imports

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2003

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent (a) discussions he has had and (b) representations he has received on the application of intelligence by his Department in preventing illegal food imports from entering the United Kingdom. [112557]

Customs worked closely in 2002–03 with Defra, Port Health Authorities and local authorities, who were then the lead enforcement agencies for illegal imports of meat and animal products, to improve intelligence relating to these imports.The Statutory Instrument which effected the transfer of anti-smuggling controls to Customs with effect from 11 April 2003 contains a statutory gateway which enables Customs to strengthen their intelligence gathering and sharing with the other enforcement agencies.Discussions are taking place this week between Customs, Defra and the Veterinary Laboratories Agencies to develop the risk assessment released by Defra on 25 March 2003.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures his Department is taking to tackle illegal food imports into the United Kingdom. [112558]

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the written ministerial statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 25 March 2003, Official Report, column 5WS.The Draft Action Plan will be finalised following a Stakeholder Forum today, which provides an opportunity for discussion with interested parties.