Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Meat Classification Scheme.

38.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries when he expects to introduce the meat classification scheme; and if he will indicate the present position in regard to it.

Arising from the report of the technical study group on beef carcase classification which has recently been completed some further experimental work is considered to be necessary. This is at present being undertaken and the results are expected to be available in four or five weeks when the question of introducing a pilot scheme will be examined.

Would the Minister say what is the reason for the delay? This has been going on and on and yet a scheme is not being introduced and it is generally accepted that the absence of such a scheme is a great barrier to the development of our meat exports.

I do not think there has been undue delay because the general question of meat classification is a highly technical business and there is the question of the determination of standards by which one classifies meat, and even now there are a couple of weeks more experimentation to be done in order to standardise these things. I quite agree with the Deputy's assertion that this is urgently required but I can assure him there will be no further delay with regard to it.

Could the Minister say whether this scheme will be synchronised with the British meat classification scheme which is also coming into operation and whether the categories will be similar?

It is independent of the British classification scheme but I would hope we would have a pilot scheme in operation in the near future.