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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 30 November 1988

EDUCATION AND SCIENCE

Emission Controls (Crown Immunity)

Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will be seeking Crown immunity from prosecution for the institutions which are the responsibility of his Department when the anticipated new controls on emissions come into operation.

Mrs. Rumbold : I refer to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's reply of Tuesday 29 November at column 178. My Department has no plans to seek removal of Crown immunity in relation to the proposed air pollution regulations.

Nursery Schooling and Child Care

Mrs. Rosie Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science when the Government will respond formally to the report by Bronwen Cohen for the Equal Opportunities Commission, which forms part of the European Commission's study on the provision of nursery schooling and childcare.

Mrs. Rumbold : As the report was prepared for the European Commission the Government have no plans to make a formal response. The report's findings will be taken into account by a number of Government Departments, particularly in the context of the ministerial group on women's issues in its consideration of childcare needs.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Schizophrenia

Mr. Goodlad : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many of those convicted of crimes in Northern Ireland in 1987 have ever been admitted to National Health Service mental illness hospitals and units with a main diagnosis of schizophrenia psychoses.

Mr. Ian Stewart : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply that I gave him on 28 November 1988 at column 121.

School Meals

Mr. Beggs : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the average price charged to pupils for school meals by each education and library board in Northern Ireland.

Dr. Mawhinney : The information is as follows :


1988-89 school year                                                                     

Education and library |Primary              |Secondary                                  

board                                                                                   

                      |pence                |pence                                      

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Belfast               |75                   |75                                         

South Eastern         |80                   |85                                         

Southern              |75                   |80                                         

Western               |80                   |85                                         

North Eastern         |75                   |<1>                                        

<1> The North Eastern education and library board operates cash cafeterias in all its   

secondary schools. Other boards operate cash cafeterias in a number of their secondary  

schools.                                                                                

Slaughterhouses

Mr. Beggs : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether, in view of the over-capacity in slaughterhouse facilities in Northern Ireland, he will set out the justification for grant aid for the further provision of slaughtering facilities from Her Majesty's Government or European Economic Community sources.

Mr. Viggers : Investment relating to an increase in beef and pigmeat slaughtering capacity in Northern Ireland is ineligible for consideration for assistance from Her Majesty's Government or the European Community unless it relates to the modernisation, rationalisation or replacement of existing capacity.

Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast

Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many claims have been received in the past 12 months arising from damage to vehicles in the grounds of the Royal Victoria hospital, Belfast.

Mr. Ian Stewart : During the 12 months ended 25 November 1988, 10 claims for criminal damage compensation were received for vehicles damaged in the grounds of the hospital.

Public Expenditure

Mr. Bowis : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about the allocation to individual programmes in Northern Ireland of the public expenditure totals announced on 1 November.

Mr. Tom King : The autumn statement by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on 1 November announced total public expenditure planning figures for the Northern Ireland programme as follows :


Year      |£ million          

------------------------------

1989-90   |5,468              

1990-91   |5,690              

1991-92   |5,910              

Excluding social security benefits and national agriculture and fishery support, the allocation for 1989-90 represents an increase of some £219 million or 6 per cent. on the forecast out-turn for 1988-89. However when account is taken of resources released through a reduction in the NI Housing Executive's outstanding debt, the cash available for services in 1989-90 will be 7.4 per cent. higher than in 1988-89.

I have decided on the following allocations to individual programmes :


Programme                                                                                                                                                                                                   |1989-90                                                                                                                                                                                                    |1990-91                                                                                                                                                                                                    |1991-92                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Northern Ireland Office:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Law, Order, Protective and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

  Miscellaneous Services                                                                                                                                                                                    |627                                                                                                                                                                                                        |670                                                                                                                                                                                                        |710                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Northern Ireland Departments:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Northern Ireland Agriculture,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

  Fisheries and Forestry                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

  Services and Support                                                                                                                                                                                      |111                                                                                                                                                                                                        |110                                                                                                                                                                                                        |110                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Industry, Trade and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

  Employment                                                                                                                                                                                                |426                                                                                                                                                                                                        |430                                                                                                                                                                                                        |430                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Energy                                                                                                                                                                                                      |-50                                                                                                                                                                                                        |-50                                                                                                                                                                                                        |-80                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Transport                                                                                                                                                                                                   |157                                                                                                                                                                                                        |160                                                                                                                                                                                                        |160                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Housing                                                                                                                                                                                                     |257                                                                                                                                                                                                        |240                                                                                                                                                                                                        |250                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Environmental and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

  Miscellaneous Services                                                                                                                                                                                    |284                                                                                                                                                                                                        |300                                                                                                                                                                                                        |300                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Law, Order and Protective                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

  Services (Fire Service)                                                                                                                                                                                   |29                                                                                                                                                                                                         |30                                                                                                                                                                                                         |30                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Education and Science, Arts and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

  Libraries                                                                                                                                                                                                 |930                                                                                                                                                                                                        |960                                                                                                                                                                                                        |1,000                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Health and Personal Social                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

  Services                                                                                                                                                                                                  |940                                                                                                                                                                                                        |980                                                                                                                                                                                                        |1,020                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Social Security Administration                                                                                                                                                                              |103                                                                                                                                                                                                        |110                                                                                                                                                                                                        |110                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Other Public Services                                                                                                                                                                                       |63                                                                                                                                                                                                         |60                                                                                                                                                                                                         |70                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                            |---                                                                                                                                                                                                        |---                                                                                                                                                                                                        |---                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Total Northern Ireland Block                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

  (excluding Social Security                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

  Benefits)                                                                                                                                                                                                 |3,880                                                                                                                                                                                                      |4,000                                                                                                                                                                                                      |4,120                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Social Security Benefits                                                                                                                                                                                    |1,514                                                                                                                                                                                                      |1,630                                                                                                                                                                                                      |1,730                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

                                                                                                                                                                                                            |---                                                                                                                                                                                                        |---                                                                                                                                                                                                        |---                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Total Northern Ireland Block                                                                                                                                                                                |5,394                                                                                                                                                                                                      |5,620                                                                                                                                                                                                      |5,840                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

National Agriculture and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

  Fishery Support                                                                                                                                                                                           |74                                                                                                                                                                                                         |70                                                                                                                                                                                                         |70                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                            |---                                                                                                                                                                                                        |---                                                                                                                                                                                                        |---                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Total Northern Ireland Programme                                                                                                                                                                            |5,468                                                                                                                                                                                                      |5,690                                                                                                                                                                                                      |5,910                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

The planning figures for 1989-90 will form the basis for preparation by Northern Ireland Departments and the Northern Ireland Office of main estimates for the coming year. These will be presented to Parliament in due course.

The allocations reflect my assessment of how best to distribute the Northern Ireland public expenditure totals in response to local needs and circumstances. Copies of a more detailed statement on these allocations have been placed in the Library of the House of Commons.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Lobster Stocks

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to extend the seeding of lobster stocks.

Mr. Donald Thompson : My Department and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland have been closely involved in a series of lobster stock enhancement programmes in inshore waters in which tagged, hatchery-reared lobsters have been released and later recaptured in commercial fisheries. The initial results of these experiments are ecouraging. However, these studies will need to run for at least three years before firm conclusions can be reached or decisions taken on the value of extending this work.


Column 238

Research and Development Budget

Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received concerning the cuts in the research and development budget.

Mr. Andrew Smith : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received concerning the cuts in the research and development budget.

Mr. Beith : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received concerning public funding for research in horticulture.

Mr. Ryder : Following discussions with Ministers and officials, industry organisations were asked for their considered responses by the end of October to our proposals for withdrawal of Government funding for near market R and D. So far, about 60 have been received, together with correspondence from other organisations and individuals.

Warble Fly

Sir Richard Body : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will amend the existing regulations to limit the areas where it is necessary to treat cattle against warble fly.

Mr. Donald Thompson : No infected areas requiring compulsory treatment for warble fly were declared in either 1987 or 1988. Where, however, a clinical case of warble fly is identified, the relevant herd owner and those within a 3 km radius are required to treat their cattle.

Sir Richard Body : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the countries in which there has been no incidence of warble fly being reported for the last three years.

Mr. Donald Thompson : In the years 1986 to 1988 (up to 25 November 1988) there have been no reports of warble fly in the following counties of Great Britain :

Bedford

Berkshire

Borders

Buckinghamshire

Cambridgeshire

Central

Cheshire

Cleveland

Clwyd

Cumbria

Dumfries and Galloway

Durham

Dyfed

East Sussex

Essex

Fife

Gloucestershire

Grampian

Greater London

Greater Manchester

Gwent

Gwynedd

Hampshire

Hertfordshire

Highland

Humberside

Isle of Wight

Isles of Scilly

Lancashire


Column 239

Leicestershire

Lincolnshire

Lothian

Merseyside

Mid Glamorgan

Norfolk

North Yorkshire

Northumberland

Nottinghamshire

Oxford

Powys

Shetland and Orkney

Shropshire

South Glamorgan

South Yorkshire

Staffordshire

Strathclyde

Suffolk

Surrey

Tayside

Tyne and Wear

Warwickshire

West Midlands

West Yorkshire

Butter

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 butter for the latest year for which figures are available.

Mr. Donald Thompson : Expenditure by the European Community on exports of butter and butter oil in 1987 was 758 million ecu (£545 million).

Food Firms

Mr. McCrindle : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he will estimate the number of food-exporting firms who are still awaiting refunds under the European Community's common agricultural policy ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) if his Department will be paying compensation to those food-exporting firms who are still awaiting refunds under the European Community's common agricultural policy ; and if he will make a statement ;

(3) if he will make a statement on the delay in payment of refunds to United Kingdom food manufacturers and exporters ; how many firms were affected ; and if a computer system was responsible.

Mr. Donald Thompson : I share my hon. Friend's concern at the continuation of some delays in the payment of export refunds, which are largely the result of technical problems earlier this year with the development of software for the Intervention Board's computerised external claims system. The Intervention Board continues to do everything possible to restore the position on all claims. Considerable progress has been made, and around 70 per cent. of all claims by value are being paid within two months. Compensation payments will be made under the scheme announced in July on all claims paid since 1 January 1988 after more than two months. Records are not kept of the number of companies whose claims are delayed but, in general, they currently fall within the pigmeat, processed goods and ships stores sectors. Further headway is however being made in these areas, and payment times should progressively improve.


Column 240

Sellafield

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will seek to obtain from the French Commissariat a L'Energie Atomique the report recently made public that asserts the sea off Sellafield is more radioactive than the sea near to the French Mururoa nuclear test site ; and if he will initiate an investigation into these claims.

Mr. Donald Thompson : My Department has a copy of the document prepared by the French Atomic Energy Commission. We understand that the French authorities did not intend to compare the situation at Sellafield unfavourably with that near their test site, and that they agree that there is no foundation for any speculation that the sea off Sellafield presents any risk to the public. Intensive monitoring carried out by my Department shows clearly that marine radioactivity levels resulting from liquid discharges from Sellafield in 1987 were only about one-hundredth of the level during the 1970s and are continuing to be reduced. The radiation dose even to those consumers who eat large quantities of local fish and shellfish remains well within internationally recommended limits.

Honey (Safety)

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if any evaluation has been made of the problem of selling honey found to contain 985 bequerels per kilogram from Chernobyl fall-out, as announced by his Department on 19 August ; and what studies have been made of the safety of such honey for human consumption.

Mr. Ryder : No problems arise over the levels of caesium detected in honey. The advice of the National Radiological Protection Board is that, even assuming consumption well above the average, the levels reported are far below those at which action to protect the consumer would need to be considered.

Emission Controls (Crown Immunity)

Mr. Ashley : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will be seeking Crown immunity from prosecution for the institutions which are the responsibility of his Department when the anticipated new controls on emissions come into operation.

Mr. Ryder : I refer to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's reply on Tuesday 29 November. My Department has no plans to seek removal of Crown immunity in relation to the proposed air pollution regulations.

EC Sheepmeat Regime

Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to protect the interests of United Kingdom sheep hill farmers during the current negotiations to reform the European Community sheepmeat regime.

Mr. Donald Thompson : In the review of the sheepmeat regime I shall be seeking to secure arrangements which allow United Kingdom producers, including those in the hills, to continue to capitalise on their superior efficiency and natural advantages.


Column 241

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Mr. Stevens : To ask the Minister of Africulture, Fisheries and Food whether he proposes to take any further steps to deal with bovine spongiform encephalopathy.


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