In the letter below about SI 843, Mr Morley says, "the approach taken in these Regulations precisely mirrors the new EU legal requirements on TSEs, effectively going no further than those in place in the UK before 19 April 2002...."
Isn't the government's use of language interesting? The word "effectively" is very telling - and, as intended, misleading.
The Minister's careful words still amount to what might be termed a terminological inexactitude - or lie - since the European version of the regulations refers only to animals who are genuinely likely to have been exposed to BSE, not, as here, any susceptible animal.
Following the government's realisation that they were on highly dubious legal grounds during the FMD slaughtering, some bright spark at DEFRA must have suggested the word "susceptible" as a useful cover-all term.
I received this reply from Elliott Morley today, forwarded by my MP.
He is obviously hoping that the constituents who wrote about
SI 8143haven't read it.
page 17 - 27
of document at http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/bse/tsereg2002.pdf(from page 117) includes giving the Minister and his "officials" powers to
"Livestock" means any creature other than a dog kept for use in the farming of the land, and also any equine animal. "
- (i) seize any TSE susceptible animal
- (j) give any direction under regulation 83 below
- (k) serve any notice in connection with the slaughter of any TSE susceptible animal
- (l) slaughter any TSE susceptible animal from page 119
- 80.- (1) This regulation applies where an inspector is satisfied that for any purpose connected with the administration or enforcement of Chapter IV of the Community TSE Regulation it is necessary to prohibit or restrict the movement of any TSE susceptible animal, whether or not the animal is suspected of being affected by a TSE, from or to any premises...."
What's this about only testing casualty animals and ones slaughtered for meat?
And exactly who were the 'over a thousand organisations' he claims to have consulted?
There is one statement in the letter that I agree with. After Elliott Morley's signature is a note in his handwriting - 'The claims made about this S.I. and slaughter powers are complete nonsense.'
He sums up his reply better than I could have done myself!
Thank you for your letter of 7 May, to Alun Michael on behalf of a number of your constituents, about the TSE (England) Regulations 2002.
Your constituents may like to know that the TSE (England) Regulations, which came into force on 19 April this year, make provision for the administration and enforcement of directly applicable European Union requirements, set out in Council Regulation (EC) No 999/2001. This Regulation harmonises BSE controls throughout the EU, largely on the basis of proven UK arrangements. The main purpose of the TSE (England) Regulations is thus the protection of public health, safeguarding the food chain from BSE. They also contain provisions for animal health. The Regulations consolidate tried and tested national measures in relation to BSE and scrapie, which have grown up on an ad-hoc basis over time. These measures are precautionary in nature, and are aimed at risk reduction in the light of comprehensive consideration of expert scientific advice.
The Animal Health Bill contains measures relating to foot-and-mouth disease and provisions for breeding TSEs out of the national sheep flock. None of these are addressed in the TSE (England) Regulations 2002. Recent media reporting of the TSE (England) Regulations 2002 has been partial and misinformed.
This has provoked concern, for instance, that the Government has put together an unwarranted package of controls, which, as your constituents believe, enable DEFRA officials to enter premises and kill any 'TSE susceptible' animals (cats, pigs, even fish) on the basis of unsatisfactory value judgements about risk. This is simply not the case. For TSE surveillance purposes, only specifically defined numbers and categories of cattle, sheep and goats (as identified in the EU Regulation) are affected. Testing is restricted to cattle subject to casualty slaughter, all cattle and 6,000 sheep and goats that die on-farm, and certain cattle and 60,000 sheep and goats which arrive at slaughterhouses in the normal way.
Elsewhere, the slaughter of clinical BSE or scrapie suspects, the offspring of confirmed BSE cases, and animals, which may have been exposed to the BSE agent, is permitted. In fact, the approach taken in these Regulations precisely mirrors the new EU legal requirements on TSEs, effectively going no further than those in place in the UK before 19 April 2002.
The suggestion that the Regulations were introduced in an underhand way is entirely unjustified. We consulted widely on two separate occasions, firstly when the relevant EU measures were being drafted, again, in February, on detailed proposals for the new Regulations. Over a thousand organisations - consumer representatives, the meat industry, farmers and professionals - were involved. The latter consultation exercise took place long before the Animal Health Bill was blocked in the House of Lords. I hope this will be helpful.