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Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what guidance he proposes to give Bournemouth local authority on how to fulfil its statutory obligation to provide accommodation for the homeless, now that it has transferred all its housing stock to the private sector.
Mr. Trippier : Bournemouth has not transferred its housing stock. If the city council wished to do so, it would need to consult its tenants first (in accordance with schedule 3A to the Housing Act 1985) and then seek my right hon. Friend's consent. He would have to be satisfied that adequate arrangements had been made to meet Bournemouth's continuing statutory duties towards the homeless.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State pays block grant to local authorities through the rate support grant system. Grant is paid on the basis of authorities' expenditure needs. In assessing needs he takes into account environmental health duties. Block grant is an unhypothecated grant and it is for individual authorities to decide how they can best meet the needs of their area.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has as to what proportion of each local authority's resources are made available for the investigation of food poisoning.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what account he takes of the number of high-risk food premises within a local authority area when determining local authority expenditure.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Is assessing local authorities' expenditure needs my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State takes into account environmental health duties. This is determined by a number of factors including the total floor spaces of shops and restaurants in an authority's area.
Mr. Wareing : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from organisations on Merseyside about the level of grant available to housing associations in the region ; and what his response has been.
Mr. Trippier : My right hon. Friend has received a number of such representations from housing associations and others with an interest in the provision of rental housing on Merseyside. These have been taken into account in the decision on housing association grant levels for 1989-90, which I announced in the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, East (Mr. Knowles) on 14 December.
Mr. Steel : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress he has made on consultations with the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association on the permitted days' use of land for clay pigeon shooting ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Howard : A consultation paper was issued on 16 December. A copy of the paper together with a full list of the consultees have been placed in the Library of the House. The Clay Pigeon Shooting Association has been included among those consulted, and its response is awaited.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether planning permission is necessary before the erection of mink farms and before the issuing of licences under the Mink Keeping Order 1987.
Mr. Chope : Since the Town and Country Planning General Development Order 1988 came into force on 5 December planning permission has been necessary for the erection of new livestock units, including mink farms, within 400m of most residential and other buildings. Applications for planning permission should be made to local planning authorities. The issuing and renewal of licences needed under the Mink Keeping Order 1987 is a separate matter, for which the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Welsh Office Agriculture Department are responsible.
(2) how many officials are engaged (a) full time and (b) part time in his Department's programme to sell the Crown Suppliers to the private sector ;
(3) what is the estimated date of completion of the sale of the Crown Suppliers to the private sector.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : We have considered very carefully proposals by the Merseyside residuary body for the detailed arrangements for the future of Croxteth hall and country park. To put an end to uncertainty over the future of Croxteth park we are minded to accept the recommendation that Croxteth should transfer to Liverpool city council on 1 April 1989. The transfer would include an endowment from the residuary body of £3 million to be held in a new Croxteth hall and country park trust fund currently being set up by Liverpool city council. The endowment would be applied to capital works for improving and developing the estate.
Subject to the outcome of consultations with the local district councils and interested parties, including local amenity organisations, an order would be made under section 67 of the Local Government Act 1985 giving effect to these proposals.
Mr. Ridley : We have today published our response to the Environment Committee's report on air pollution. The Committee's report appeared at a timely moment and addressed a number of issues on which policy has been developing quickly. In our response we broadly welcome the Committee's report ; respond to its detailed recommendations ; and outline a number of significant developments since the report was published.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if his Department has allocated any resources and support personnel to the international geosphere-biosphere programme in its current evaluation of the greenhouse problem and prospective solutions.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : No. Funding of international non- governmental sciences is a matter for the Royal Society and the research councils and is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science. This Department is currently reviewing its own support of climate change research and will take a close interest in the progress of the IGBP.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list by location the number of public sector buildings in Great Britain affected by radon radiation ; and what is their action level reading.
The information is not recorded in the form requested and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has issued guide lines as to how the needs element in the Government grant system is to be applied to local government following the introduction of the poll tax for (a) district councils and (b) parish councils ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer [holding answer 19 December 1988] : The Government have no plans to introduce a poll tax. No such guidelines have been issued in respect of the needs grant. Under sections 76(1) and 78(1) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, the needs grant in England will be paid to the collection fund from which both district councils and parishes will draw their income. There will be a single needs assessment encompassing both district and parish functions. The Department is consulting the local authority associations about the basis of distributing needs grant and the papers are in the Library.
Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many copies have been printed of the pamphlet "You and the Community Charge", and what has been the cost to his Department of producing the pamphlet.
Mr. Beith : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether it is his intention that the South of Scotland Electricity Company will be enabled to supply electricity to domestic consumers in England within or beyond the area of England now served by the South of Scotland Electricity Board.
Mr. Beith : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy why Factsheet No. 11, issued by his Department, listed as an asset to be transferred to National Power a power station at Druridge bay in Northumberland for which planning permission has not yet been applied for.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what information he has concerning safeguards research at (a) Euratom and (b) the International Atomic Energy Agency into the safeguarding of inertial confinement fusion technology.
Mr. Michael Spicer : Nuclear materials in the United Kingdom which are subject to safeguards are reported to the safeguards authorities with regard to stocks and movements. Such nuclear materials are verified by Euratom, in accordance with chapter 7 of the Euratom treaty. In addition the IAEA may, under the terms of the UK/Euratom/IAEA agreement, choose to designate for inspection a facility containing nuclear material. The IAEA also inspects some nuclear material in the United Kingdom under earlier bilateral safeguards agreements.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if his Department intends to investigate the work of P. C. Fuhri-Snethlage, on renewable energies and windpower, as described in evidence of 30 November at the Hinkley Point C inquiry.
Mr. Michael Spicer : The Government are supporting a major programme of research and development on the renewable energy sources in order to stimulate their full exploitation where they are both economic and environmentally acceptable. The programme covers wind, tidal, geothermal, small hydro, wave, solar and biofuels. Within the wind programme, particular attention is paid to large wind turbines and a 3MW machine is being tested on Orkney.
Mr. Peter Morrison : The Department's director of safety, Mr. James Petrie, has now produced a further report on the work done following his interim report which was published at the end of September. With the agreement of Lord Cullen, who will be conducting the public inquiry into the accident, I am today placing a copy of this further report in the Library of the House and am making copies widely available.
As further investigatory work is to be undertaken by the public inquiry, Mr. Petrie has requested that he be released from further investigation of the accident under the remit given by the Secretary of State and the Health and Safety Commission. My right hon. Friend has agreed with the commission that it should accept this request.
Mr. Martyn Jones : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what evidence his Department has of vertical infection of hens' eggs by salmonella ; what species are involved ; and what is his estimate of the numbers of chickens involved.
Column 436Smyser and Van Rockel in the "Avian Diseases 13" in 1969. More recently articles have appeared in the Veterinary Record, on 24 September, which established a link between this infection in the laying bird and in the egg.
Salmonella enteritidis has been detected in laying hens, broilers and breeders and is also known in ducks.
Since salmonella does not provide an overt clinical disease in adult poultry, it is not possible to give precise figures of the extent of the infection without extensive testing, which, in the absence of a simple, rapid and sensitive test for salmonella enteritidis, is not possible.
Mr. MacGregor : Under the Zoonoses Order 1975, any person isolating salmonella organisms from poultry must notify my Department. So far this year, my Department has received 15 such reports of salmonella enteritidis isolations from commercial laying flocks. There are in total about 42,000 laying flocks in the United Kingdom. Each such reported isolation of salmonella enteritidis is thoroughly investigated by a veterinary surgeon of the veterinary investigation service.
Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many eggs have been imported in each of the last three years ; what steps his Department has taken to protect the public against the importation of eggs contaminated by salmonella ; and if he will make a statement.
|(Million --------------------------- 1985 |464 1986 |338 1987 |190
There is a very low degree of risk of contracting salmonella poisoning from imported, or home-produced, eggs particularly if everyone follows the advice of the chief medical officer.
Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the factors accounting for the different experience of salmonella incidence in the poultry industry in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Mr. Donald Thompson : We are aware that the salmonella problem is not confined to Great Britain alone. My officials are in contact with colleagues in Northern Ireland about the salmonella issues. To date there has not been a comparative assessment made of the situations both here and in Northern Ireland.
Column 437introduced into the food chain. In any case there are legal controls to ensure that salmonella is destroyed in the processing of animal protein.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what guidance he has issued to local authorities about salmonella enteriditis in poultry products ; if he will place copies of such guidance in the Library ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Donald Thompson : Guidance was issued to enforcement authorities on 17 August on the identification and rejection of birds showing visible signs of salmonella enteriditis at post-mortem inspection. A copy is being placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Mallon : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many tonnes of South American thin skirt will be imported into (a) Britain and (b) Northern Ireland, as a result of a decision by the European Community beef management committee ; and what representations he has received from the meat processing industry in Northern Ireland about the effect of this importation on their market.
Mr. Donald Thompson : No licences have yet been issued for the import of thin skirt under the quota. However, we understand that in view of the extent to which the quota has been oversubscribed, the quantity for which licences will be issued in the United Kingdom is likely to be less than 300 tonnes. Such representation which my Department has had from meat processors generally
Column 438welcome the opening of this quota in order to re-establish trade disrupted by the Community's adoption of the harmonised system of tariff.
Mr. Cryer : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether the compensation scheme for egg producers announced on 19 December will be extended to manufacturers of poultry farm equipment ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Donald Thompson : The schemes I announced on 19 December are designed to reduce the surplus of eggs on the market by encouraging the destruction of unwanted eggs and the culling of about 10 per cent. of the laying flock. Manufacturers of poultry farm equipment will not qualify for payment under these schemes.
Mr. Lawrence : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proportion of eggs sold in shops and supermarkets is produced by large-scale egg producers ; and what proportion of the total number of egg producers in the United Kingdom his Department classifies as large-scale producers.
Mr. Donald Thompson : My Department does not classify egg producers according to size. Information on the proportion of eggs produced by holding size for sale in the United Kingdom is not available. At the June 1987 agricultural census the distribution of holdings in the United Kingdom by size of laying flock was as follows :
J Size of laying flock Number of holdings Number of fowls (fowls) with laying fowls thousands |Per cent. |Per cent. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Under 1,000 |39,574 |94.56 |1,442 |3.8 1,000-less than 20,000 |1,907 |4,56 |10,547 |27.6 20,000-less than 50,000 |225 |0.54 |6,854 |17.9 50,000 and over |144 |0.34 |19,386 |50.7 |------- |------- |------- |------- Total |41,850 |100 |38,229 |100
Half the fowls were on holdings with flocks of 50,000 fowls or more.
Mr. Donald Thompson : Payments under the Egg Industry (England and Wales) Scheme, and under the similar schemes for Scotland and Northern Ireland, will be made to egg packers for the destruction of surplus eggs. All egg producers, whether large or small, should benefit from the removal of surplus eggs from the market.
Sir Hal Miller : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has considered the introduction of a scheme for the slaughter of laying flocks or the destruction of eggs found to contain salmonella ; and if he will give figures for the number of flocks so infected.
Mr. Donald Thompson [holding answer 19 December 1988] : I refer my hon. Friend to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on 19 December 1988 at column 21.
Mr. Fearn : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in the light of the sampling of eggs to detect traces of salmonella, the producers of those eggs found to contain salmonella, and producers whose farms fail to comply with health regulations, will receive Government compensation ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Donald Thompson [holding answer 21 December 1988]: There are no plans to pay Government compensation to those commercial egg producers in cases where salmonella organisms have been isolated or who are unable to comply with the recently introduced code of practice. However free advice will be available from the state veterinary service in support of that given by their own veterinary surgeon to assist those producers in minimising the risks of salmonella infection and complying with the code.
Mr. Fearn : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the cost of the testing of eggs for traces of salmonella will be borne by the egg producing industry ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Donald Thompson [holding answer 21 December 1988] : The recently issued code of practice applicable to commercial laying flocks sets out that the cost of bacteriological monitoring of laying flocks incluing the testing of eggs for the presence of salmonella will be borne by the poultry industry.
Mr. Speller : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the results of meetings held in Abuja, Nigeria during November by the Parliamentary Secretary, the Baroness Trumpington, with members of the Federal Government of Nigeria in respect of financial aid for development.
Mr. Donald Thompson : The main purpose of my noble Friend's visit to Nigeria in November was to open an agricultural seminar, but while in Lagos she took the opportunity on behalf of the Government to announce a three- year agricultural education project involving links between British and Nigerian agricultural colleages, a conservation and rural development programme at Oban Hills in Cross River state, and the provision of consultants for a study of the Nigerian sugar industry. She mentioned existing projects, including emergency aid for controls against grasshopper pests, funding for the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan and the current World Bank study of agricultural potential on the Mambilla plateau. She said that the British Government would consider other Nigerian requests for further aid to the agricultural sector under the technical co-operation programme. Subsequent action, of course, falls to my hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development.
Mr. Donald Thompson : The Feedingtuffs Regulations 1988 already require suppliers of animal feeds to provide detailed information about the content of their products. In addition, the new codes of practice for the control of salmonella recommend poultry farmers to obtain assurance from suppliers that feeds are free from salmonella.
Mr. Lawrence : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has any plans to improve the monitoring of the content of feed produced by large egg producers for their own livestock ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ryder : Yes. Guidelines for the production of final feeds for livestock are now being issued. They provide advice on the monitoring and manufacture of both raw materials and feedingstuffs. A detailed code of practice is being drawn up.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the National Farmers Union representatives who attended the post-Chernobyl briefing on north Wales held at his Department on Friday 9 December.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the Country Landowners Association representatives who attended the post-Chernobyl briefing on north Wales held at his Department on Friday 9 December.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what were the names of the representatives of the Farmers Union of Wales who attended the briefing meeting in London on Friday 9 December to discuss the continuing effects of Chernobyl.
Mr. Donald Thompson : No representatives of the Farmers Union of Wales attended this meeting, which was devoted largely to the situation as it affects Cumbria. The Welsh Office Agriculture Department will be inviting the FUW, amongst other interested organisations, to a meeting to deal specifically with the situation in north Wales in the new year.