The draft Regulations propose two amendments to the Charges Regulations:
Charges for inspections at licensed re-packaging centres
The Charges Regulations implement in Great Britain the provisions relating to charges for meat hygiene/welfare inspections set out in Council Directive 85/73/EEC (as amended) on the financing of veterinary inspections and controls (the 'Charges Directive'). They provide for the MHS to recover the costs of carrying out hygiene/welfare inspections at licensed slaughterhouses, game handling and processing facilities, cutting plants, re-wrapping centres and cold stores.
The Charges Regulations do not currently provide for the MHS to recover the costs of carrying out hygiene inspections at licensed fresh meat re-packaging centres. Since the Regulations came into effect last September, a small number of premises have been licensed as re-packaging centres. We therefore propose to amend the Charges Regulations to bring these premises within their scope for charging purposes. As a standard charge for inspections in respect of re-packaging operations has not been set by the Charges Directive, the charge payable would be the actual cost of carrying out the inspection, in line with the Government's policy of recovering the full costs of providing a service.
Withdrawal of MHS inspection services
The draft Regulations also provide that where an operator has failed to pay the appropriate charges, has had a Court judgement entered against him for the sum owed, and has subsequently failed within a reasonable time to settle the debt, the Minister may decide to withdraw the MHS inspection services from the premises in respect of which the debt accrued until the debt has been satisfied. Although not laid down in the draft Regulations, we would propose that the MHS would give the premises operator advance warning of withdrawal of services so as not to jeopardise animal welfare.