Does the Minister agree that if the regulations laid down in both Acts were observed, such an occurrence as the recent escape of a bullock in Newcastle-upon-Tyne could not occur? Will he take into due account the danger to the public that is involved in such an occurrence and the fearful terror experienced by the animal? Will he seek to persuade local authorities to maintain regular supervision of slaughterhouses?
I can appreciate the hon. Gentleman's concern about the bullock which escaped from the abattoir in Newcastle. He will know more about that than I do, but I understand that the district council is conducting its own inquiry. Therefore, it would be premature for me to make any comment.
In the light of the recent bankruptcy of the abattoir at Bathgate, may I gently inquire of the Government whether they have any evidence that perhaps some of the regulations we are now imposing, albeit that hygiene is necessary, are unduly expensive for the smaller abattoirs?
My hon. Friend has raised a rather big question. I am not at all certain that the regulations could in any way be used as a reason for the bankruptcy of the firm in his constituency. We are always considering these matters, but we must recognise that in many respects relating to hygiene and general standards in our slaughterhouses we are backward relative to the rest of the Community.
Does the hon. Gentleman understand that there is a feeling on both sides of the House that slaughterhouses should be better able to deal with the export of carcase meat from this country? Will he consider diverting existing subsidies to the improvement of slaughterhouses so that the improvements would also qualify for Common Market grants? Because Government aid is not now available, they do not qualify for the Common Market grants.