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Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales why the project by the University of Wales college of medicine research team for the care of the elderly on the prevention of fractures is to be abandoned.

Mr. Wyn Roberts : During its extension period the research team is to secure the data base for this study. Subject to the future arrangements for reorientation of research into the care of the elderly the data may be drawn upon for a similar study.

Severn Bridge

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many representations have been made to him (a) in favour of and (b) against the proposed increase in tolls on the Severn bridge.

Mr. Wyn Roberts : My right hon. Friend received 16 representations ; all against the proposed increases in toll charges. These have been referred to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport who is the responsible Minister.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what consideration he has given to assessments of the impact of the Severn bridge on the economy of (a) Newport and (b) Gwent in determining his policy in regard to (i) tolls and (ii) the need for a second crossing.

Mr. Wyn Roberts : The impact of the Severn bridge tolls on the Welsh economy has been considered at two public inquiries when the inspectors concluded that their effect was insignificant. A further public inquiry into proposed toll increases will be held in February 1989.

The existing Severn crossing will continue to carry traffic safely for many years to come. However, in view of the increased traffic arising from economic growth, not least in Gwent and the rest of south Wales, the Government have made clear their commitment to provide a second crossing of the estuary before traffic flows are too great for the existing bridge. That is why urgent actions have been announced.


Elderly People

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what provision is made for emergency payments by his Department for elderly people who have had their pension stolen and are unable to pay for their basic necessities.

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Mr. Peter Lloyd : When an order book or girocheque is stolen arrangements are made to continue payment of benefit.

If, in the interim, the pensioner needs help with living expenses he may apply for a social fund crisis loan.

Death Grants

Mr. Turner : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, how many death grants were given in the year 1986-87 and at what cost ; how many funeral payments were paid during the year 1987-88 and at what cost ; how many funeral payments have been made, so far, in the current financial year and at what cost ; how much of the amount paid out in the current financial year is due to be repaid to the social fund ; and how much has been repaid.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The information is as follows :

                    |Type of payment    |Number of payments |Amount paid £                          


1986-87             |Death grants       |585,335            |17,560,050                             

1987-88             |Funeral payments   |36,986             |16,185,943                             

1988-89             |Funeral payments to                                                            

                    |   31 October 1988 |19,129             |9,331,130                              

Funeral payments are recoverable from the estate, if any, of the deceased. Up to 31 October 1988 a total of £196,487 has been recovered.


Sir Ian Gilmour : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his latest estimate of the number of old-age pensioners who receive (a) no national insurance pension and (b) less than the full amount of national insurance pension because their contribution record is incomplete, distinguishing between single pensioners, married pensioners where the wife only has category B pension and married pensioners where both spouses have been in paid work ; and if he will give an indication of the age levels of those affected.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : In 1987-88 there were approximately 95,000 people of pensionable age not in receipt of national insurance retirement pension and in receipt of supplementary pension .

Statistics do not give the breakdown between single and married pensioners in receipt of retirement pension. The table shows numbers of pensioners according to category and age, who are in receipt of less than 100 per cent. full basic retirement pension.

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Aged                  |Category A men       |Category A women     |Category BL wives    |Category ABL wives<2>|Widows                                     


60-64                 |-                    |305,570              |9,000                |780                  |3,590                                      

65-69                 |52,250               |162,900              |12,390               |1,110                |5,170                                      

70-74                 |31,660               |52,730               |9,690                |50                   |11,760                                     

75-79                 |23,660               |39,630               |6,490                |-                    |14,540                                     

80-84                 |12,490               |19,520               |700                  |-                    |9,330                                      

85-89                 |3,540                |8,050                |80                   |10                   |5,700                                      

90 and over           |900                  |2,720                |-                    |-                    |3,010                                      

Source: 1987-88 Public Expenditure White Paper.                                                                                                           

<1> Supplementary Pension replaced by Income Support in April 1988.                                                                                       

<2> Category A-Pension on own contributions.                                                                                                              

Category BL-Pension on husbands contributions.                                                                                                            

Category ABL-Combined category A and BL pensions where this combined rate does not exceed the category BL rate.                                           

Sir David Price : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what would be the current rate of supplement to the basic rate of retirement pension for those aged 80 years and above if that supplement had been indexed to the cost of living since its introduction in 1971 ; and what would be the annual cost of adopting such a rate.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The current rate of age addition for pensioners aged 80 and over, if uprated in line with prices since its introduction, would be £1.29. The annual cost of adopting this rate would be approximately £130 million. This represents additional expenditure of approximately £105 million.

Mr. Rooker : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will bring forward proposals to give equal treatment in respect of the retirement pension to pensioners with earned income to those with unearned or investment income.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : We have no plans to do so. The earnings rule is a test of retirement and therefore applies only to income from work.

Bradford Resource Centre

Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many staff from local offices of his Department in the Bradford district have undertaken training courses organised by Bradford resource centre since 1979.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : None.

Hardship Payments

Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are the criteria for eligibility for a hardship payment ; why all applicants for hardship payments are referred to his Department in London ; what published information is available to the public about eligibility for hardship payments ; and what action he proposes to make the public more aware of the availability of hardship payments.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Each application is deat with on its merits but the factors which are considered when making decisions on severe hardship include the young person's health and vulnerability, (including the threat of homelessness) ; the availability of any income or savings ; the prospects of a speedy entry in YTS ; the availability of work, including casual and part-time employment ; whether the claimant has any friends or relations who could put him up or otherwise offer assistance, and the extent and pressing nature of any financial commitments.

Cases are referred to headquarters for decision as this leads to a consistency of treatment in exercising this safety net power and provides an opportunity to monitor the new scheme.

One million copies of a supplement to leaflet FB23 "Young Persons guide to Social Security" were distributed in May and contained advice about the severe hardship provisions. The main leaflet has now been reprinted and the October edition contains the same information. An explanation of the factors taken into account in deciding applications under these provisions was given to the press on 30 September and a copy has been placed in the Library.

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There is no intention to issue any further publicity.

Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many young people aged 16 and 17 years who left school in the summer have been granted hardship payments since 12 September ; how many applications for hardship payments have been refused ; how many applications are under consideration ; what is the average payment made ; and if he will list this information for each local office of his Department in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : In the period from 12 September to 18 November a total of 1,213 applications for a direction by the Secretary of State under the severe hardship provision had been received. In 802 cases (66 per cent.) a direction was given to enable payment to be made and in 411 cases (34 per cent.) a direction was refused. The figures include both those who left school this summer and those who left previously. Decisions are given by telephone within 24 hours of the full details being referred to headquarters. Once a decision is given that a young person is entitled to income support on the grounds of severe hardship the adjudication officer in the local office awards benefit at the appropriate weekly rate for the duration of the direction.

The other information requested is not immediately available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Housing Benefit

Sir Ian Gilmour : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish the rent ceilings for each London borough above which no more housing benefit is payable.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : There are no such ceilings. Under the Housing Benefit (General) Regulations 1987 (S.I. 1987/1971) it is for local authorities to determine the level of rent eligible for housing benefit in each case. Authorities have powers to limit the rent eligible for benefit where they consider the rent is unreasonably high. Any decision by the authority to limit the eligible rent must be taken on an individual case basis, taking account of the personal circumstances of the claimant.

Under the arrangements for subsidising local authorities' housing benefit expenditure, a reduced rate of subsidy is payable where housing benefit is awarded on rents above the subsidy rent threshold for the area. The table shows the subsidy thresholds for the London boroughs.



Barking                |56.58                                

Barnet                 |77.32                                

Bexley                 |57.32                                

Brent                  |62.43                                

Bromley                |71.67                                

Camden                 |88.09                                

City of London         |85.97                                

Croydon                |74.41                                

Ealing                 |70.55                                

Enfield                |60.69                                

Greenwich              |55.13                                

Hackney                |59.55                                

Hammersmith            |61.85                                

Haringey               |63.91                                

Harrow                 |66.02                                

Havering               |63.53                                

Hillingdon             |66.71                                

Hounslow               |69.75                                

Islington              |64.15                                

Kensington and Chelsea |76.31                                

Kingston               |71.15                                

Lambeth                |62.89                                

Lewisham               |54.41                                

Merton                 |72.77                                

Newham                 |54.88                                

Redbridge              |55.54                                

Richmond               |74.83                                

Southwark              |56.41                                

Sutton                 |68.96                                

Tower Hamlets          |58.83                                

Waltham Forest         |48.73                                

Wandsworth             |69.64                                

Westminster            |114.89                               

Community Care

Mrs. Beckett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he will publish in the Official Report the advice issued to regional and local offices by Branch RD22 of his Department on how to reply to letters from hon. Members regarding the low level of spending on community care grants ; and why it was considered necessary to issue such advice.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : In order to ensure that letters from local offices to hon. Members are as helpful as possible, regions were reminded in July of general advice on the handling of correspondence and of the following points about social fund budget management : --local office budgets are annual, not monthly

--the overall aim is, within the framework of the law, directions and guidance, to use the local office

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budgets to ensure, as far as is reasonably possible, that applications of similar priority receive similar treatment throughout the year, whenever they occur

--the first few months of the scheme may not be typical, for instance in terms of the volume of applications.

Income Support

Mrs. Beckett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what would be the additional cost of increasing the income support personal allowances in April 1989 to the illustrative rates in the technical annex to "Reform of Social Security" (Cmnd. 9691), uprated to take account of changes in the Rossi price index for the periods taken into account in the 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1989 upratings and increased in respect of the 20 per cent. community charge contribution ; and what would be the resulting personal allowance.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The personal allowances are set in the context of the overall rates of income support, including the rates of children's allowances and the various premiums. It would therefore not be meaningful to recalculate one element of the illustrative figures in the technical annex.

Child Support

Mrs. Beckett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will update to November 1988 the information provided in the reply of 8 November 1982 to Dr. McDonald the then hon. Member for Thurrock, Official Report, columns 51-52, relating to child support.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The information requested is set out in the table and reflects the fact that uprating is now in April each year.

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(a)                      |(b)                     |(c)                     |(d)                     |(e)                     |(f)                     |(g)                     |(h)                                              

                         |M/C UB rate             |Dep increase            |Child Benefit/Family    |Total child<1> support  |Column (e) as percentage|Column (e) expressed at |Column (g) as index APR                          

                                                                           |allowance                                        |of column (b)           |APR 1988                |1988=                                            

Date                     |£                       |£                       |£                       |£                       |£                       |prices<2> £             |100                                              


 5 July 1948             |2.10                    |0.375                   |0.25                    |0.625                   |29.8                    |8.35                    |57.6                                             

30 August 1951           |2.10                    |0.625                   |0.25                    |0.875                   |41.7                    |9.94                    |68.6                                             

24 July 1952             |2.70                    |0.65                    |0.25                    |0.90                    |33.3                    |9.45                    |65.2                                             

19 May 1955              |3.25                    |0.75                    |0.40                    |1.15                    |35.4                    |11.33                   |78.1                                             

 6 February 1958         |4.00                    |1.10                    |0.40                    |1.50                    |37.5                    |13.11                   |90.4                                             

 6 April 1961            |4.625                   |1.35                    |0.40                    |1.75                    |37.8                    |14.53                   |100.2                                            

 7 March 1963            |5.45                    |1.60                    |0.40                    |2.00                    |36.7                    |15.44                   |106.5                                            

28 January 1965          |6.50                    |1.85                    |0.40                    |2.25                    |34.6                    |16.45                   |113.4                                            

28 October 1967          |7.30                    |2.10                    |0.40                    |2.50                    |34.2                    |16.72                   |115.3                                            

11 April 1968            |7.30                    |2.05                    |0.75                    |2.80                    |38.4                    |17.96                   |123.9                                            

10 October 1968          |7.30                    |1.90                    |0.90                    |2.80                    |38.4                    |17.73                   |122.3                                            

 6 November 1969         |8.10                    |2.20                    |0.90                    |3.10                    |38.3                    |18.59                   |128.2                                            

23 September 1971        |9.70                    |2.28                    |0.90                    |3.70                    |38.1                    |19.05                   |131.4                                            

 5 October 1972          |10.90                   |3.30                    |0.90                    |4.20                    |38.5                    |19.93                   |137.4                                            

 4 October 1973          |11.90                   |3.70                    |0.90                    |4.60                    |38.7                    |19.86                   |137.0                                            

25 July 1974             |13.90                   |4.50                    |0.90                    |5.40                    |38.8                    |20.55                   |141.7                                            

 7 April 1975            |15.90                   |4.70                    |1.50                    |6.20                    |39.0                    |20.04                   |138.2                                            

20 November 1975         |18.00                   |5.50                    |1.50                    |7.00                    |38.9                    |20.26                   |139.7                                            

18 November 1976         |20.90                   |6.60                    |1.50                    |8.10                    |38.8                    |20.39                   |140.6                                            

 4 April 1977            |20.90                   |5.60                    |2.50                    |8.10                    |38.8                    |18.75                   |129.3                                            

17 November 1977         |23.80                   |6.50                    |2.50                    |9.00                    |37.8                    |20.04                   |138.2                                            

 4 April 1978            |23.80                   |4.40                    |4.60                    |9.00                    |37.8                    |19.30                   |133.1                                            

16 November 1978         |25.50                   |3.70                    |6.00                    |9.70                    |38.0                    |19.99                   |137.9                                            

 2 April 1979            |25.50                   |1.70                    |8.00                    |9.70                    |38.0                    |18.90                   |130.3                                            

15 November 1979         |29.95                   |3.40                    |8.00                    |11.40                   |38.1                    |20.02                   |138.1                                            

24 November 1980         |33.40                   |2.50                    |9.50                    |12.00                   |35.9                    |18.27                   |126.0                                            

23 November 1981         |36.40                   |1.60                    |10.50                   |12.10                   |33.2                    |16.46                   |113.5                                            

25 November 1982         |40.45                   |0.60                    |11.70                   |12.30                   |30.4                    |15.74                   |108.6                                            

24 November 1983         |43.75                   |0.30                    |13.00                   |13.30                   |30.4                    |16.24                   |112.0                                            

20 November 1984         |46.00                   |<3>-                    |13.70                   |13.70                   |29.8                    |15.94                   |109.9                                            

28 November 1985         |49.25                   |-                       |14.00                   |14.00                   |28.4                    |15.44                   |106.5                                            

28 July 1986             |49.80                   |-                       |14.20                   |14.20                   |28.5                    |15.41                   |106.3                                            

 6 April 1987            |50.85                   |-                       |14.50                   |14.50                   |28.5                    |15.07                   |103.9                                            

11 April 1988            |52.95                   |-                       |14.50                   |14.50                   |27.4                    |14.50                   |100.0                                            

<1> Does not show the effect of child tax allowance to the standard rate taxpayer. In years prior to April 1979 some recipients of unemployment benefit would also have derived advantage from child tax allowance because of    

their receipt of earnings in the course of the tax year.                                                                                                                                                                         

<2> Based on the movement in the general Index of Retail Prices between the dates shown and April 1988.                                                                                                                          

<3> Child dependency addition abolished from 26 November 1984.                                                                                                                                                                   

Cold Weather Payments

Mrs. Beckett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people were receiving income support in each of the categories eligible, for cold weather payments ( a ) in Great Britain and ( b ) from each of the Derby social security offices, at the latest date for which information is available.

Mr. Scott : Information is not available in the form requested. Maximum estimates of those in the eligible categories, which take no account of the effect of capital, are as follows :



Higher pensioner premium          |520,000            

Pensioner premium                 |1,250,000          

Disability premium                |270,000            

Disabled Child premium            |10,000             

Families with a child under age 5 |615,000            


Total                             |2,665,000          


Postal Services (Disruption)

81. Mr. Boswell : To ask the Lord President of the Council whether he will draw up contingency plans to eliminate inconvenience to right hon. and hon. Members arising from the disruption of postal services.

Mr. Wakeham : I hope that there will not be any disruption of postal services. In the event of industrial action by post office staff, I regret that it is not possible to isolate totally right hon. and hon. Members. However, I am assured that the postmaster of the Palace of Westminster will make every effort to assist Members who bring special cases of difficulty to his notice.



Mr. Ian Bruce : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the sheepmeat regime.

Mr. Donald Thompson : The EC Commission has recently produced revised proposals for a review of the sheepmeat regime. Discussion on these proposals are at an early stage.

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Milk Marketing Board

Mr. Robert G. Hughes : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he last met the chairman of the Milk Marketing Board ; and what was discussed.

Mr. Donald Thompson : I have regular contacts with the chairman of the Milk Marketing Board to discuss various issues affecting the dairy industry.

Paper-making Industry

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects to receive the three reports, recently referred to by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Mid-Norfolk (Mr. Ryder), dealing with problems of lead dioxide, chlorine dioxide and bleach, in relation to the paper-making industry ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ryder : We are aiming to produce the reports referred to in three months. I assume the question refers to the use of paper-based packaging materials. Dioxins can be formed during the bleaching of wood pulp and it has been found that low levels may be present in paper products made from bleached pulp. Recent studies in Scandinavia and North America have suggested that small amounts of dioxins can subsequently migrate into foodstuffs from paper-based packaging materials. The available data indicate that the levels are extremely small and do not pose a hazard to health, but none the less my Ministry is now carrying out a thorough investigation of dioxins in food, including a programme of laboratory analysis, to decide if any action is necessary.

Alternative Land Use

Mr. Adley : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent discussions he has had with the National Farmers Union on the anticipated alternative uses of farmland ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ryder : My right hon. Friend and I frequently meet NFU office holders and members to discuss a wide range of issues, including alternative uses of farmland.


Mr. Jack : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he proposes to discuss the desk studies on the effect of nitrates on farmland with industry representatives.

Mr. Ryder : The desk studies will be discussed with industry representatives in the near future.

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European Agriculture Guidance and Guarantee Fund

Ms. Quin : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list, for each standard planning region, the amount received in financial support from the guarantee section of the European agricultural guidance and guarantee fund, for each of the last 10 years.

Mr. MacGregor : Information on receipts from the guarantee section of the European agricultural guidance and guarantee fund is not recorded by planning region.

Fisheries Policy

Ms. Quin : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list, for each standard planning region, the amount received in financial assistance for fisheries from the European Economic Community budget for each year since the coming into force of the common fisheries policy.

Mr. Donald Thompson : Information on financial assistance from the European Community for fisheries is not recorded by planning region.

Member's Correspondence

Mr. Mudd : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne may expect a reply to the matter raised with the Parliamentary Secretary Baroness Trumpington on behalf of Mr. D. V. Richards, of Grovewood House, 1 Roseware close, Camborne, on 25 July.

Mr. Ryder : A reply to the letter of 25 July from my hon. Friend was dispatched on 25 November. I understand that officials in this Ministry contacted Mr. Richards direct about the points he raised in this correspondence on 11 August.

Bovine Somatotropin

Mr. Ward : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in view of the surplus of dairy products within the European Economic Community, he will cancel the trial of bovine somatotropin.

Mr. MacGregor : Applications for product licences or animal test certificates under the Medicines Act 1968 must be considered on the basis of safety, quality and efficacy. I am not empowered to take into account economic factors.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Mr. Wray : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the places or regions in which cattle infected by bovine spongiform encephalopathy are found in the United Kingdom.

Mr. MacGregor : Up to 25 November, 1,677 cases of BSE had been confirmed in the following counties and regions of Great Britain :

County                      |Confirmed cases                


Avon                        |16                             

Bedfordshire                |6                              

Berkshire                   |22                             

Borders                     |2                              

Buckinghamshire             |17                             

Cambridge                   |7                              

Central                     |2                              

Cheshire                    |30                             

Cleveland                   |1                              

Clwyd                       |12                             

Cornwall                    |187                            

Cumbria                     |27                             

Derbyshire                  |20                             

Devon                       |249                            

Dorset                      |101                            

Dumfries                    |10                             

Durham                      |2                              

Dyfed                       |59                             

Essex                       |3                              

Mid Glamorgan               |6                              

South Glamorgan             |2                              

West Glamorgan              |1                              

Gloucestershire             |74                             

Grampian                    |5                              

Guernsey                    |18                             

Gwent                       |15                             

Gwynedd                     |6                              

Hampshire                   |64                             

Hereford and Worcestershire |35                             

Hertfordshire               |8                              

Highland                    |4                              

Humberside                  |5                              

Isle of Man                 |1                              

Isle of Wight               |7                              

Jersey                      |0                              

Kent                        |46                             

Lancashire                  |29                             

Leicestershire              |32                             

Lincolnshire                |23                             

Lothian                     |2                              

Manchester                  |0                              

Merseyside                  |1                              

Norfolk                     |14                             

Northamptonshire            |7                              

Northumberland              |5                              

Nottinghamshire             |7                              

Orkney                      |1                              

Oxfordshire                 |31                             

Powys                       |13                             

Shropshire                  |41                             

Shetland                    |1                              

Somerset                    |113                            

Staffordshire               |20                             

Strathclyde                 |6                              

Suffolk                     |26                             

Surrey                      |27                             

East Sussex                 |17                             

West Sussex                 |37                             

Tayside                     |5                              

Warwickshire                |13                             

Wiltshire                   |69                             

West Midlands               |1                              

North Yorkshire             |55                             

South Yorkshire             |2                              

West Yorkshire              |9                              

Mr. Wray : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what measures his Department have introduced to prevent human consumption of beef infected by bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Mr. MacGregor : From 8 August this year, all cattle suspected, on clinical grounds, of being affected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy have been compulsorily slaughtered and their carcases either incinerated or buried.

Column 99

Nuvan 500 EC

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make the results of research into the presence of residues of Nuvan 500 EC in salmon flesh available to the public ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ryder : Surveillance for residues of the active ingredient dichlorvos in the flesh of farmed salmon is in progress and the results will be published in the food surveillance paper series. Until the work is complete it would be premature to make a statement.

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when and where the results of research into the environmental and health effects of Nuvan 500 EC will be published ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ryder : Data including the results of research provided by a company in support of the approval of a pesticide are a matter of commercial confidentiality. The publication of such information would therefore be a matter for the company concerned. However, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland's marine laboratory in Aberdeen is carrying out investigations into the environmental effect of Nuvan 500 EC and its possible toxicity to a number of marine organisms. This work has not yet been completed, but consideration will be given to the publication of the results of research where publication will not breach commercial


Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether (a) all products known as pesticides and (b) Nuvan 500 EC should comply with the Control of Pesticides Regulations for supply, storage and handling ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ryder : The Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 cover pesticides as defined in regulation 3. This includes the product Nuvan 500 EC as approved for use in poultryhouses. The regulations cover sale, supply, storage, use and advertisement.


Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what discussions he has had with the Nature Conservancy Council about future priorities for research on environmentally sensitive agriculture and nature conservation ; and if he will make a statement about the outcome of his research programme.

Mr. Ryder : Ministers and officials of my Ministry keep in close touch with the Nature Conservancy Council at all levels and research priorities are a frequent topic in these contacts.

My Ministry is currently in discussions with the NCC about the direction of projects and programmes concerning the monitoring of environmental effects in environmentally sensitive areas, set-aside and the interrelationship between agriculture and the environment, including wildlife and water quality.

Chernobyl (Compensation Claims)

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will establish local adjudicating panels to determine the level of compensation to be paid to

Column 100

the 122 farmers in England and Wales who lost outstanding claims following the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

Mr. MacGregor : No, I have already made the Government's position clear on these cases.

Chernobyl (Aerial Survey)

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will place in the Library the maps and reports of the recently completed post-Chernobyl aerial survey of Cumbria which was shown to representatives of the National Farmers Union at Eden Bridge house, Carlisle, on Wednesday 23 November.

Mr. Ryder : We have not yet received the final report on this survey. The map referred to was a preliminary contour map of the caesium deposition. The numerical interpretation of this data is being carried out and a full report will be placed in the Library of the House when it is available.

Milk Products

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the cost to the European Economic Community for export restitution and other costs for the export of all milk products for the latest year for which figures are available.

Mr. MacGregor : Expenditure by the European Community on exports of milk products in 1987 was 2,823 million ecu (£2,030 million).

New Zealand Butter

Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what decision has been made by the Council of Ministers on New Zealand butter access ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. MacGregor : Since United Kingdom accession the Council has on a number of occasions decided upon the level of New Zealand butter imports at a reduced rate of levy. The current arrangement expires at the end of this year and the Council has not yet decided what should succeed it.

Farm Capital Grants

Mr. Boswell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the future of farm capital grants.

Mr. MacGregor : Since the agriculture improvement scheme was introduced in 1985 there have been many important changes in our agricultural policy. Among these, we have introduced a number of initiatives to assist farmers in conserving the countryside and controlling pollution.In the European Community we have also made good progress in dealing with the surpluses and bringing production more into line with demand. In consultation with my right hon. Friends, the Secretaries of State for the Environment, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, I have been reviewing the agriculture improvement scheme to see whether capital grants can more closely reflect these changing priorities.

As a result, I have decided to introduce a new grant scheme called "The Farm and Conservation Grants

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Scheme" in February 1989. Its provisions have still to be negotiated with the EC Commission but, subject to obtaining that agreement, I plan to make the following changes.

First, I intend to increase the assistance we offer to lowland farmers to install facilities for the storage, treatment and disposal of slurry and silage effluent. Grant rates in the lowlands will be significantly improved and the coverage extended, for example, to include fixed disposal piping and safety fencing. I have agreed with my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary a provision of up to £50 million over the next three years on these grants. This compares with £17 million spent in the first two years of the AIS. Reducing the incidence of farm pollution must be a top priority for the industry. By these means the Government will be further assisting farmers in tackling the problems.

Secondly, I plan to introduce three new conservation grants. These will encourage the regeneration of native woodlands and of heather moors and assist in the cost of repairs to vernacular farm buildings.

It is clear that certain grants which have helped to stimulate the productive capacity of the industry in the past are less appropriate in present circumstances. Grants for new farm buildings, roads and one or two minor items will be discontinued. Grants which help to keep grazing land in good heart will remain.

For horticulture, enhanced rates of grant for the replacement of heated glasshouses will also remain, with grants for orchard replanting being reinstated, both until the end of 1993.

I believe it is important that the grants, with their increased emphasis on pollution and conservation, should reflect the fact that these are priority areas for farmers in both the lowlands and the less-favoured areas. I plan therefore to narrow the differential for most grants to 10 per cent. I would, however, expect the grassland grants and the three new conservation grants to be of particular benefit in the less-favoured areas.

The arrangements recently announced by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, under which national park authorities can offer additional grants on some items up to a maximum of 80 per cent. will now be adapted to the new grant scheme.

To ensure proper management of the transition from the current scheme to the new one I am closing the agriculture improvement scheme forthwith. Orders taking immediate effect have been laid before Parliament today. Farmers who have already committed themselves to investment in the expectation of claiming grant will now have until 31 May to deliver their claim unless they hold ( or have applied for) an improvement plan. Grants already included in an approved improvement plan or one on which approval is awaited will not be affected by the closure. Two specific categories of grant will also be exempt from the closure orders. These are the special glasshouse replacement grants which I announced in July and those for growers in the Isles of Scilly, on which orders were laid on 16 November. In addition, in Northern Ireland only, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be continuing the grants for waste disposal which have only recently been reintroduced there.

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