Slaughterhouses Act 1958

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th May 1976.

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Photo of Mr Robert Elliott Mr Robert Elliott , Newcastle upon Tyne North 12:00 am, 6th May 1976

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied with the operation of the Slaughterhouses Act 1958.

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

The 1958 Act was consolidated in the Slaughterhouses Act 1974. Consultation is in progress on the amendment of some of the regulations concerning meat hygiene.

Photo of Mr Robert Elliott Mr Robert Elliott , Newcastle upon Tyne North

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?

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

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.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

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?

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

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.

Photo of Mr Michael Jopling Mr Michael Jopling , Westmorland

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.

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

The hon. Gentleman is right. As there is no national grant scheme, it is not possible for the industry to apply for EEC grants. He will be happy to know that we are considering this matter at present.