Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Canned Meats.

12.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries if he will raise with the Council of Ministers of the EEC the question of the importation by Britain of canned meats from Uruguay and the prevention of their sale in Northern Ireland in order to preserve this country's disease-free status, as there is a danger of foot and mouth disease being carried by such meats.

There is not as yet any EEC directive or regulation on animal health problems in trade in canned meats. Accordingly, each member state is entitled to continue to apply its existing veterinary controls on the import of such meats. Northern Ireland has its own separate legislation under which it controls the import of canned meats from other places, including Great Britain, on animal health grounds. The Northern Ireland authorities are as concerned as I and my Department are to protect the whole country from serious animal disease from abroad and the official veterinary services of the two areas maintain continuous liaison towards that end. In the circumstances, I would consider intervention by me on the lines suggested by the Deputy to be neither necessary nor appropriate.

Is the Minister aware that importation was stopped some years ago when there was a very serious outbreak of foot and mouth disease which was caused by canned meat coming from Uruguay? Would he try to get the British to have sample testing done on all importations?

There are no official importations. Perhaps there is smuggling in this as in many other areas. Every effort is being made. The Deputy knows how strict the veterinary section of my Department have always been. In fact, the complaints have been in the other direction, that they were too strict in the measures they took to safeguard the country's disease free status.

I realise that the veterinary section are very strict. The Minister said there were no official importations but there was an announcement in the papers a month ago that England was starting to import again from Uruguay.

England is perfectly entitled to and always did import in this way. We were never in a position to do anything about it.

With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle I propose to raise the subject matter of Question No. 6 on the Adjournment.

As the House is adjourning after Question Time, there would not be time to allow the Department to brief the Minister on that matter. Perhaps the Deputy could raise it next week.

I give notice that I propose to raise it on the next sitting day.