NEW TSE REGULATIONS ARE VITAL - LORD WHITTY

Food and Farming Minister Lord Whitty has emphasised the importance of the new TSE (England) Regulations 2002, which contain vital measures for the protection of human and animal health and to eliminate BSE.

"These Regulations consolidate the tried and tested package of proportionate, precautionary measures, which have grown up in the UK over a number of years. They bring us into line with current Community requirements, based substantially on proven UK approaches."

"The uncertainties surrounding BSE and vCJD mean that there is no scope for complacency. We are making real progress towards eliminating BSE in cattle. But effective enforcement and robust controls are as important as ever - as the BSE Inquiry report demonstrated."

Lord Whitty expressed his frustration over misleading press articles about the Statutory Instrument, which will be debated in the House of Lords on 15 May:

"Plainly the Regulations do not seek to revive powers in the Animal Health Bill. The Government consulted stakeholders on these proposals long before the Bill was blocked."

"There are no mass culling powers in this SI. Powers to restrict, seize and slaughter any TSE susceptible animal may be used only for specific reasons. For example, a 'purpose connected with the administration or enforcement of the annual programme of monitoring referred to in Article 6 of the Community TSE Regulation'. They cannot be applied indiscriminately or on an inappropriate scale, and are limited to particular categories of cattle, sheep and goats."

"Nor has the Government tried to sneak this legislation in through the backdoor. People were consulted from early February. They were told what was happening, their views were taken into account. Over a thousand organisations - consumers, industry and professionals - were involved."

"People who knock this SI are totally misguided. They run the risk of dismantling long-standing, evidence-based BSE controls of paramount importance for public and animal health."


Background

  1. The Community TSE Regulation (No 999/2001) came into force on 1 July 2001. It provides a secure legal base for Community-wide measures for the prevention, control and eradication of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs).

  2. The Regulation is directly applicable in all EU Member States. But a national legal instrument is needed to provide powers and penalties effectively to administer and enforce the new Community measures in the UK. Accordingly, the TSE (England) Regulations 2002 - put out to public consultation on 8 February - were introduced on 19 April 2002. Parallel legislation will shortly be introduced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The full text of the Regulations is available on the Internet at:

    http://www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/si/si2002/20020843.htm

  3. The TSE (England) Regulations 2002 administer and enforce all the provisions of the Community TSE Regulation with the exception of rules concerning exports of live animals and products of animal origin. These will be enforced by a separate Statutory Instrument.

  4. Provisions for TSE monitoring - which have attracted particular attention - are set out in Regulations 4 to 10. All the animals which will be tested will either have died on farm, or have been sent to slaughterhouses in the normal way.

  5. If these Regulations were annulled in the House of Lords, the new controls cease, in practice, to be enforceable. The measures in place before this SI came into force would have been revoked, leaving a serious gap in our control framework.