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Volume 405: debated on Thursday 22 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her policy towards assisting the egg sector to offset the costs of additional Communities legislation. [112505]

Although we make every effort to minimise the regulatory burden on all sectors of the agriculture industry, it is not our policy to subsidise the cost of meeting legislative requirements.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what analysis she has made of the effect of Green Box compatible payments following impact analysis on Council Directive 1999/74/EC, on the UK egg industry; what assistance to UK producers is planned; and if she will make a statement. [112506]

A regulatory impact assessment of Council Directive 1999/74/EC on the welfare of laying hens was placed in the Library of the House. We have no plans to compensate producers for the costs of meeting this legislation.The egg industry are concerned that following tariff reductions in the current WTO round, they will have to compete against imports from third countries where compliance with lower standards of animal welfare confers a substantial cost advantage. The EU has successfully pressed for such non trade concerns to be taken into consideration in the negotiations and the UK will continue to play an important role in formulating EU policy in this area.