Written Answers. - UK Cattle Importation.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

241 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the action, if any, he is taking to prevent imports of United Kingdom cattle, both legal imports of cattle under six months old and alleged illegal smuggling of cattle from Northern Ireland; and his views on whether these cattle are a risk to our national herd in view of the fact that they cannot be checked for BSE as a result of the fact that there is no testing procedure available for live animals. [1919/96]

It is a criminal offence to import cattle in contravention of the rules laid down at EU level regarding the export of cattle from the United Kingdom to other member states. Further national measures restricting legal imports from the United Kingdom would be invalid under EU law. Various measures are taken by my Department, including checks at meat plants, to ensure that illegal imports do not take place. I should point out, however, that as BSE has not been shown to be a transmissible disease, cattle in this country are not at risk in relation to BSE from imported cattle.