The Minister must be aware of the deep concern of the Consumers Association about the ability of trading standards officers to detect irradiated products, especially if they are publicised in an inadequate and misleading way. What does the hon. Gentleman suggest to trading standards officers? To protect the consumer, why does not the Ministry set up an independent food standards agency?
We have some of the most detailed regulations in Europe. Our standards are among the highest of all the European countries that have irradiated food and our regulations are as detailed as those of other countries. We have much detail on the policing of irradiated food. So far, we have received only one application to irradiate food and that was in respect of herbs and spices. The licence was granted and last week the Ministry published full details of the conditions to which the company must adhere. We already have independent experts who assess food and guarantee food safety. The hon. Gentleman is making yet another promise that a Labour Government will spend more of taxpayers' money on setting up quango after quango.
Is my hon. Friend aware that there is some concern that these food hygiene matters have been carried too far and that they are interfering with the activities of legitimate small organisations, which are unable to cope with the demands made upon them? Will my hon. Friend carefully consider any representations made to him in that regard and take care that he does not drive many valuable small organisations out of business?
That is absolutely correct. In the pursuit of food safety, we must ensure that we do not drive out of business many of the excellent producers of high-quality, tasty food. My hon. Friend does not seem to have been deprived of a good supply of food.
My Ministry will be happy to consider any specific proposals from the company that the hon. Gentleman mentioned.