A MAJOR firm of auctioneers has said Government proposals could cripple the live auction system.

While welcoming the six-day standstill announcement, Harrison & Hetherington expressed serious concern about other proposals.

A ban on animals being kept on market premises overnight from August 1 and the suggested 90-mile limit on the movement of animals through markets caused great concern.

"They could cripple the live auction system," said David Thomlinson, sales and marketing director. "An auction mart is the ideal place to control the movement of livestock, but these proposals do not appear to have taken this into account."

He was also worried about a proposed separation in both time and space of dedicated slaughter and other livestock markets and about a stipulation that auction market operators would have to sign a formal undertaking to comply with strict operating procedures.

Mr Thomlinson said much of the information was still sketchy and the company, which operated ten centres, would provide input in any consultation process.

"In the meantime we offer an open invitation to MPs - or any member of the public - to visit Borderway to see the operation of a livestock market," he said.

The company acknowledged other proposals, which would add more cost to both markets and producers. These include cleansing and disinfecting vehicles and increased veterinary involvement