Mr. George Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much aid has been provided by Her Majesty's Government to Turkey to assist in dealing with Kurdish refugees from Iraq.
11. Mr. Flynn : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has received representations from consumer organisations about the future of milk production in the United Kingdom ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Donald Thompson : From time to time I receive representations from consumers organisations on a wide range of subjects. For example, my right hon. Friend the Minister recently met the National Consumer Council to discuss its views on a range of agricultural issues.
Mr. Ryder : The Government have a long established system for reducing food poisoning. This involves a close working relationship between several Government Departments, and in particular close links between the Department of Health and ourselves.
For example, the State Veterinary Service monitors infections in animals. Controls are designed to cure the spread of infection in animals, animal products and animal protein used in feeding-stuffs. And detailed statutory requirements exist for the hygienic production of meat.
Early in the new year, we plan to launch, with the Department of Health, a major national campaign aimed at reminding, and educating, the public about the importance of maintaining good food hygiene practices to prevent food poisoning.
Mr. Donald Thompson : My right hon. Friend and I have received a favourable response from the farming industry, and from the board itself, to the continued operation of the British Wool Marketing Board.
50. Mr. Knapman : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what response he has received from the National Farmers Union and the chairman of the Wool Board to his recent statement on the British Wool Marketing Board's future role.
Mr. MacGregor : The president of the National Farmers Union and the chairman of the British Wool Marketing Board have both welcomed the continued operation of the statutory marketing arrangements for wool.
Mr. Ryder : In framing the rules of the scheme, my right hon. Friends and I took full account of the need to ensure that set-aside took full account of the environment. The detailed rules for the management of fallow land are outlined in the scheme documents, which also give advice on how set-aside can be used to maintain and improve environmental features such as hedgerows, shelterbelts and bridleways.
Mr. MacGregor : About 2,000 farmers in the United Kingdom have applied for set-aside, representing about 150,000 acres of land to be taken out of arable production in this crop year. About 24,000 further farmers have registered their arable land so that they are in a position to apply for set-aside in the future without needing independent evidence of their 1987-88 cropping pattern.
15. Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he intends to impose regulations governing the maximum residue level of pesticides, fungicides and sprout inhibitors allowable in potatoes, in line with United Nations regulations.
Mr. Ryder : The Government have introduced statutory residue limits for potatoes under the Pesticides (Maximum Levels in Food) Regulations for 36 pesticide active ingredients covering all the main classes of pesticide use. There are a limited number of recommendations in this field from the Codex Alimentarius Commission, but no United Nations regulations.
17. Mr. McCartney : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has any plans to meet representatives of the agricultural and allied workers trade group of the Transport and General Workers' Union.
Mr. Ryder : I met the chairman of the Countryside Commission on 7 November when we discussed many issues of concern to the countryside. I have no immediate plans for another meeting but remain ready to discuss with him any matters of mutual concern.
Column 320agricultural policy in 1989-90 is £1,467 million. This covers all expenditure under Community market support and structural aid schemes for agriculture and fisheries but excludes related expenditure such as disease prevention, advice, research and development, land drainage and administration.
The United Kingdom Government also support spending under the common agricultural policy elsewhere in the Community through our net contribution to the European Community budget, which in 1989-90 is estimated at £1,970 million. Over that period it is expected that more than 60 per cent. of the European Community budget will be spent on the common agricultural policy.
33. Mr. Galbraith : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he next plans to meet other European Community Agriculture Ministers to discuss the common agricultural policy ; and if he will make a statement.
37. Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what initiatives he plans to take to implement the proposals for the reform of the common agricultural policy as outlined in the Gracious Speech ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. MacGregor : I am consistently endeavouring to ensure that the reforms established by the European Council in February and the price negotiations in July are carried out and to maintain the impetus at all appropriate times.
Mr. MacGregor : European Community stocks of most commodities have fallen significantly. Butter stocks are down 80 per cent. over the last year and skimmed milk powder stocks virtually eliminated. Stabilisers are cutting support levels, where production has exceeded the agreed threshold for cereals, oilseeds, olive oil, protein crops, cotton and sheep. The common agricultural policy is being effectively managed, within the guidelines, under the new budgetary discipline rules.
Mr. MacGregor : The United Kingdom has made it clear that we regard it as essential to abolish monetary gaps by 1992 if we are to achieve the benefits of a single market in agriculture. With this objective, the Council with our strong support and pressure in 1987 agreed to a mechanism to dismantle newly-created monetary gaps in stages following each EMS realignment ; and in July 1988 that the existing fixed monetary gaps should be eliminated in four stages by 1992. The Commission is to report on how to remove variable monetary gaps and solve the other transitional problems which will arise.
24. Mr. Boswell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what reduction in the spending of the European Community has arisen from savings on the agricultural budget as a result of decisions by the European Council in or since December 1986.
Mr. MacGregor : Decisions taken in December 1986 and since to reduce Community spending on agriculture have been estimated by the Commission to have saved about 2.7 becu, or about £1,840 million by the end of 1988.
Mr. Ryder : Our estimate of the 1988 United Kingdom field bean crop, passed to the Commission in late August for purposes of forecasting Community production, was 512,000 tonnes. Latest trade estimates suggest that production may be higher than this.
An official estimate of the United Kingdom crop will be given in "Agriculture in the UK 1988" to be published early in the new year.
26. Mr. Ward : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what monitoring takes place of requests by individual farmers for animal food suppliers to add chemical substances to animal foodstuffs.
Mr. Donald Thompson : All sales of animal feedingstuffs have to meet the requirements of the Feedingstuffs Regulations 1988. Where medicinal substances have been used, the feed must also comply with the Medicine (Medicated Animal Feedingstuffs) Regulations 1988. Samples of feedingstuffs are taken by trading standards officers for analysis. In the case of medicinal substances, there is also enforcement of the controls by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.
27. Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received from the Devon and Cornwall fisheries development group with regard to the Cornish fishing industry past 1992.
28. Mrs. Gillian Shephard : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what effect the proposed restrictions to deal with the problem of nitrates will have on farmers ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ryder : My Department's examination of its research and development programme took place against the objectives outlined in the July 1987 White Paper on civil research and development (Cm 185) and the Government's view that research which offers the prospect of commercial application or exploitation within a reasonable time scale is appropriate for funding by the industry. As announced in the Autumn Statement, funding for near market R and D has been reduced by £5 million for 1990-91 and £14 million for 1991-92. Together with the reduction announced last year this is equivalent to a reduction in 1991-92 of £30 million at full economic cost. Final decisions on the future level of Government funding will not be made until after consultations with industry have been completed.
54. Mr. Darling : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what discussions he has had with the agricultural industry about the future of research and development in agriculture ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. MacGregor : Following earlier discussions I had with the industry, my noble friend the Parliamentary Secretary has held meetings with all sectors of the agricultural horticultural and food industries to discuss the fututre funding of near market research and development following the completion of the Barnes review. More detailed consultations with the industry have taken place with officials from my Department. Industry organisations were asked to give their considered response by the end of October and these are now being studied.
56. Mr. Nigel Griffiths : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the likely future contributions of the agricultural industry towards research and development ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. MacGregor : As I announced on 28 November a major feature of the new capital grant scheme that I hope to introduce in February will be improved aid for waste storage, treatment and disposal. We have made provision of up to £50 million over the next three years to allow for improved lowland grant rates and for the extension of eligibility to include fixed disposal piping and safety fencing.
39. Mr. Worthington : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has any proposals to monitor the incidental capture of marine mammals by commercial fishing vessels ; and if he will make a statement.
57. Mr. McLeish : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his Department has recently held discussions with fishermen's organisations regarding the phenomenon of the incidental capture of marine mammals.
40. Mr. Rogers : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what discussions he has had with European Community agriculture Ministers about the future of the sheep variable premium scheme ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Donald Thompson : The Council of Ministers (Agriculture) has twice considered the proposals for a review of the sheepmeat regime tabled by the European Commission. These proposals include one to phase out the variable premium. Negotiations are as yet at an early stage.
41. Mr. Hicks : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will increase the level of compensation to 100 per cent. for confirmed cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy affected cattle ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Donald Thompson : I believe that the existing compensation rate of 50 per cent. of market value is fair, given that the animals are suffering from a terminal illness but are valued as if unaffected by the disease.
66. Mr. George Howarth To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy have been identified to date ; in which counties ; and if he will make a statement.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will outline the procedures for the disposal of carcases of cows infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Donald Thompson : The disposal of carcases of cattle suspected of being affected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy is the responsibility of the Ministry's State Veterinary Service. It ensures that transportation, which is
Column 325prohibited except under licence, and incineration or burial is carried out in accordance with strict animal health conditions.
43. Mr. Martlew : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has assessed the implications of his agricultural policies on employment in the countryside ; and if he will make a statement.