19 December 1997

Workington centre will employ 250+

MORE than 250 staff will be employed to run Britains cattle movement database, drawing salaries totalling £3.2m, farm minister, Jack Cunningham, has revealed.

Replying to questions from shadow farm minister, Michael Jack, Dr Cunningham added that the anticipated start-up costs for the database, to be located at Workington, Cumbria, were £13m, while the annual running costs would be £15m.

Dr Cunningham told Mr Jack that MAFF estimated 2.5m-3m passports would be issued each year. "The cattle tracing system will not only provide cattle passports, but also a computerised register of all cattle in Great Britain, their location and their movement history," Dr Cunningham said.

Of the 261 employees, 33 would be paid more than £10,093 a year.

Mr Jack told FW that 3m passports, at £5 each, would cover the £15m annual running costs. It was obvious, therefore, that Dr Cunninghams proposal to charge £5-£10 a passport indicated that farmers were to be left to fund the start-up costs too.

"It is clear that the database could be run for as little as £5 a passport. So why for every passport issued are farmers being asked to put another £5 in Jack Cunninghams pocket?" Mr Jack asked. The former government had promised it would pay to establish the database. &#42