Delivering Animal Health and Welfare: A review of the delivery of Defra's Veterinary Services

by 5m Editor
1 July 2004, at 12:00am

UK - Ministers decided in principle last October that the State Veterinary Service (SVS) should become an executive agency.

State Veterinary Service: creation of an Executive Agency

  1. In October 2003, Ministers decided, in principle, that the State Veterinary Service should leave core Defra and become an executive agency, subject to a review of the scope of the agency. This review has now been completed and we are consulting on the recommendations. The responses to this consultation will feed into the forthcoming project to establish the agency.

Summary of review and recommendations

  1. The aim of the review was to determine the arrangements that would best deliver the Government's operational role in the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy for Great Britain. Specifically, it considered whether some or all of the operational work carried out by Directorates in the Animal Health and Welfare Directorate General, by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA), the Veterinary Medicines Directorate and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science and by on-farm inspectorates such as the Egg Marketing Inspectorate and the Dairy Hygiene Inspectorate should transfer into the new agency.

  2. The review considered a range of options, from "big agency" which would sweep up virtually all animal health and welfare delivery into one body, through to simply creating the SVS agency with the current SVS role. In summary the report recommends the 'SVS only' option, although it acknowledges that the arguments are finely balanced. It supports a consideration of further restructuring in the medium to long term.

  3. The review determined that some areas of the Defra landscape were good candidates for transfer into the agency. However it concluded that given the fairly undeveloped customer-contractor relationship between the SVS and the Directorate General for Animal Health and Welfare, an early restructuring including other agencies, could threaten the formation of the agency, and impact on the quality of work carried out by all of the bodies involved.

  4. The report recommended that the work of the Dairy Hygiene Inspectorate (DHI) and the Egg Marketing Inspectorate (EMI) should be considered as candidates for transfer into the SVS agency in the future. It recommended no structural change for VLA or the Fish Health Inspectorate. Although no structural change was suggested for VMD, the report recommended that the project board that is considering future options for the Animal Medicines Inspectorate should consider the benefits of integration into the SVS Agency.

  5. The review also considered the processes that need to be put in place as the SVS moves towards Agency status. These recommendations will be taken forward as part of the agency creation project.

  6. Defra is launching a programme to achieve agency status for the SVS. Subject to the results of this consultation the project team will:

    • Proceed with the objective of launching the SVS as an executive agency on 1 April 2005;

    • Consider the incorporation of other delivery agents, specifically DHI and EMI, into the SVS agency;

    • Consider the practicality and implementation of a mixed funding model for the agency, comprising core-funding plus programme-based funding, or recommend acceptable alternatives.

  7. The State Veterinary Service will continue to function as a GB-wide organisation which delivers the specific animal health and welfare policies in the GB administrations and is accountable to the respective Ministers. The Scottish Executive and the National Assembly for Wales are fully involved in the decisions concerning the creation of the agency and are party to this GB consultation. For reference, the veterinary service in Northern Ireland was separately reviewed in 2003. That review - which does not form part of this consultation - recommended that the service should be retained within DARD.

  8. One of the key issues to be considered is the arrangements for the operation of the State Veterinary Service in the devolved administrations in Wales and Scotland. There is a need to ensure that the Executive Agency has robust governance arrangements in place and that roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. The Chief Executive of the Agency will report to a Board, which will include, among others, representatives from Defra (including its Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO)) the Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly Government. The CVOs in Wales and Scotland are part of the SVS and provide advice to Ministers in the respective countries on Animal Health and Welfare Policy, as well as being responsible for SVS operations in their areas. These functions will continue under the new arrangements, but in Wales consideration is being given to establishing a post of Chief Veterinary Officer within a Veterinary policy unit to be set up within the National Assembly for Wales.

  9. We would welcome comments on any issue raised by the review and, in particular, on the approach outline above. In the coming months, we will be looking in detail at the many issues affecting the detailed operation of the agency and making sure that all the necessary baseline documents and agreements are in place. These include (but are not limited to) the Framework Document, Key Targets, Governance arrangements, Accounts Direction and funding principles, Agency Business Plan, etc. We plan to develop all these in a consultative manner and if you would like to be involved on one or more of these issues, please write to us or send an email to the address given below. We do not envisage a further formal consultation being necessary but we will retain the option to do so if this looks sensible.

  10. A hard copy of the report and recommendations is enclosed. Alternatively the document can be downloaded from the Defra website at:

    Further printed copies can be obtained from:
    DEFRA Publications
    Ad mail 6000
    London SW1A 2XX
    Tel: 08459 556000

  11. Please send your responses by 23 September 2004 to this address:

    By post:
    Jacqueline Stafford
    SVS Consultation
    Area 7E, 9 Millbank
    C/o Nobel House
    17 Smith Square
    SW1P 3JR

    By e-mail: [email protected]


  12. In line with Defra's policy of openness, at the end of the consultation period copies of the responses we receive may be made publicly available through the Defra Information Resource Centre, Lower Ground Floor, Ergon House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR. The information they contain may also be published in a summary of responses.

  13. If you do not consent to this, you must clearly request that your response be treated confidentially. Any confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system in e-mail responses will not be treated as such a request. You should also be aware, that there may be circumstances in which Defra will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and the Environmental Information Regulations. The Information Resource Centre will supply copies of consultation responses to personal callers or in response to telephone or e-mail requests (tel: 020 7238 6575, e-mail: [email protected]). Wherever possible, personal callers should give the library at least 24 hours' notice of their requirements. An administrative charge will be made to cover photocopying and postage costs.

  14. Comments or complaints about the consultation process (as opposed to comments about the issues which are the subject of the consultation) should be addressed to Sofia Rychlik-Hadley, Defra's Consultation Co-ordinator, Area 7D Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR.

    Code of Practice on Consultations

  15. Government consultation exercises have to apply six key principles. These are listed below and are described more fully on the Cabinet Office website

    They are: -

    1. Consult widely throughout the process, allowing a minimum of 12 weeks for written consultation at least once during the development of the policy.

    2. Be clear about what the proposals are, who may be affected, what questions are being asked and the timescale for responses.

    3. Ensure that the consultation is clear, concise and widely accessible.

    4. Give feedback regarding the responses received and how the consultation process influenced the policy.

    5. Monitor the department's effectiveness at consultation, including through the use of a designated consultation co-ordinator.

    6. Ensure the consultation follows better regulation best practice, including carrying out a Regulatory Impact Assessment if appropriate.

Source: Defra - 30th June 2004

5m Editor