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Column 306action programmes agreed by his Department now comply with the European Community drinking water directive limiting the levels of aluminium in the water supply ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Moynihan : Two of the 31 drinking water supplies subject to remedial programmes for aluminium now comply with the European Community drinking water directive. These are Tunstall (Northumbrian water authority) and parts of Halifax served by Thrum Hall treatment works (Yorkshire water authority).
Most of the remaining 29 supplies should comply by 1990.
Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish a table showing the projected rise in local authority (a) rents and (b) rates for each year between 1988-89 and 1990-91 in current prices and 1987-88 prices.
Mr. Trippier [holding answer 18 January 1989] : We cannot say what local authorities will choose to do in future years. For 1988-89, however, local authorities in England increased their rents by an average of £1.57 per week over the previous year. (£1.48p at 1987-88 prices). The average increase in general rates in 1988-89 was 17.10p in the £, or 16.09p at 1987-88 prices.
Dr. Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many requests for a drinking water derogation order were made to his Department by the South West water authority with respect to the incident at Lowermoor water treatment works on 6 July 1988 ; and on what dates they were received.
Mr. Ridley [holding answer 18 January 1989] : South West water authority submitted to my Department on 3 August 1988 an application for an emergency derogation under article 10 of the EC drinking water directive. Letters from SWW dated 15 August, 31 August and 14 September requested extension of its application.
I refer the hon. Member to the reply my hon. Friend the Minister for Water and Planning gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Neale) on 17 January, [ Official Report Vol. 145, col. 147].
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give for the latest available year and for each of the previous five years the volume of chemical waste and the volume of waste material dumped off the British coast.
I refer the hon. Member to the replies that I gave on 10 January to the two questions from the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) concerning industrial waste, dredge spoil and sewage sludge at columns 527-28.
Mr. Ryder : The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food undertakes an extensive programme of research in food microbiology, hygiene related methodology development, costing about £1.9 million in the current financial year. The research is carried out at many establishments including universities, the Food Research Institute, and research associations. The programme of research is aimed at improving the safety and quality of food for the community. A list of individual projects within this programme has already been given in my reply of 22 December 1988 to the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley).
14. Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has made to the European Economic Community regarding devaluation of the green pound as part of the 1989 price proposals.
Mr. MacGregor : Following United Kingdom pressure during the 1988 price fixing, the Council and the Commission agreed that the completion of the internal market required the progressive dismantlement of all MCAs, and monetary gaps. The Commission is committed to making proposals for further steps, and I expect to see the 1989-90 price proposals shortly.
Mr. MacGregor : The green pound devaluations agreed at the 1988 price fixing came into effect on 1 January this year. Taken on their own, they would increase aggregate farm income (the value of United Kingdom agricultural output) by some £120 million in a full year.
15. Mr. Cran : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received concerning the level of research and development funding in near market research in horticulture.
Mr. Ryder : We have received representations on the level of funding for near market research in horticulture from all the main organisations with an interest in horticultural research as well as from other interested parties.
Mr. Ryder : It is not possible to make a precise estimate of the United Kingdom's total capacity for production of hens' eggs. In 1988, approximately 12 billion hens' eggs were produced in the United Kingdom, but this may not have reflected the use of all the capacity for production that was available.
19. Mr. Bradley : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the number of egg laying poultry that have been culled under his scheme announced on 19 December.
Mr. Ryder : The two schemes which my hon. Friend the Minister announced on 19 December have helped to restore stability to the egg market. The further measures to improve animal health and hygiene in the egg industry should enable public confidence to be restored in eggs as a safe and nutritious food. Egg producers should now be able to use their commercial judgment to draw up their future plans.
34. Mr. Ashley : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on what date he expects salmonella in poultry to be so reduced as to permit old and young people to eat eggs safely again and other people to use them in mayonnaise and similar products.
Mr. Ryder : I regret that it is not possible to give a precise answer. Salmonella infection is a highly complex issue involving a great number of factors. It would be misleading to state that it can definitely be eradicated. No country to our knowledge has salmonella-free flocks, but we are working urgently to tackle the problem at every point in the production chain to reduce incidence. In the meantime, consumers should continue to follow the chief medical officer's advice about the use of eggs.
37. Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his latest estimate as to the true extent of infection by salmonella enteritidis in eggs and poultry in Britain.
Mr. Ryder : It is not possible to make a precise estimate as to the extent of infection by salmonella enteritidis in eggs or in poultry. As far as eggs are concerned, I agree with what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health told the House on 5 December 1988 at column 19, that the risk to any individual is small and the risk to the healthy adult small indeed. As for poultrymeat, thorough thawing of frozen poultry, thorough cooking of poultry and proper handling of poultrymeat in the kitchen should remove any risk.
40. Mr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the number of jobs likely to be lost in the poultry industry as a result of the culling of 4 million hens under the proposals he announced on 19 December 1988.
Mr. Ryder : The schemes which my right hon. Friend announced on 19 December to assist the disposal of surplus eggs and to help the industry to reduce the size of the laying flock have helped to stabilise the market and to restore a degree of confidence. I have no firm information about the number of people who may have lost employment in egg production and packing plants following the sudden drop in demand which occurred last month. I regret if any jobs have been lost and hope that with the recovery of the market they will soon be restored.
It would be quite wrong to suggest that the Government's schemes have been responsible for job losses. Quite clearly, the schemes have helped to sustain employment in the industry.
Mr. Ryder : The annual agricultural census at June 1988 recorded a total of 37.1 million laying fowls in the United Kingdom. In addition, it is estimated that there are a further 250,000 laying fowls on those very small holdings which are not required to make annual returns under the census. The census results will be published shortly.
51. Mr. Sean Hughes : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he most recently met representatives of the United Kingdom poultry industry to discuss the emergency measures to assist egg producers.
Mr. Ryder : The latest available information is that up to £2.6 million will be paid in the United Kingdom for the destruction of eggs under the eggs industry scheme and about £800,000 for the culling of hens under the slaughter of hens scheme.
Mr. Ryder : All hens' eggs marketed in the European Community must comply with Council regulation 2772/75 and Commission regulation 95/69 which lay down common requirements for quality, weight, labelling and marking throughout the production chain.
Mr. Adley : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many eggs have been tested for salmonella since the statement of the former Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie) ; what the results have been ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ryder : The information is not available in the form requested. However, during the period 23 November to 13 January a total of 9,425 eggs from 320 flocks or units were tested for salmonella by Ministry of Agriculture officials. None were found to be infected. The PHLS has, of course, continued to monitor outbreaks of food poisoning some of which may be related to eggs.
22. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the amount of money paid out by his Department as grants for maintenance, repair or construction of farm walls and hedges, for each of last three years and for the current year.
|£ million ------------------------------ 1985 |0.75 1986 |0.87 1987 |1.97 <1>1988 |1.26 <1> To June.
Routine maintenance operations are not grant aided.
Mr. Donald Thompson : I have received no recent representations about prices for beef cattle. Throughout 1988 prices have been markedly above those for 1987. Producers' expectations of higher prices have also been reflected in prices for calves and store cattle.
Mr. Ryder : The use of all pesticides is rigorously controlled in the United Kingdom by the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986. In addition to those controls on use, the House recently approved the setting of over 800 statutory maximum residue levels for pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables. These MRLs will be revised as and when appropriate.
Mr. Donald Thompson : The Council of Ministers has only briefly discussed proposals from the EC Commission for a review of the sheepmeat regime. Little progress has been achieved in these discussions. Regarding beef, no decision on the proposed reform of the regime was reached at the December Agriculture Council. The existing arrangements have therefore been extended until 5 March with a view to discussions continuing.
Mr. Ryder : Both the nutritional value and the safety of food are kept under close and continuous review by an expert advisory committee, whose most recent report, entitled "Food Surveillance 1985 to 1988" was published last November. The report is available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Donald Thompson : Intervention stock levels are influenced by a wide range of factors, notably harvest size, market demand and EC support arrangements. The measures agreed by the European Council in February 1988 exert downward pressure on surplus production and thus help to limit intervention.
30. Mr. Geraint Howells : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to help the livestock sector of the industry during the coming year ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Donald Thompson : I shall continue to make appropriate provision to support the livestock sector during 1989. Actual levels of support will be dependent upon the outcome of this year's price-fixing negotiations ; and, in the beef and sheep sectors, the results of the current negotiations on the future of the relevant CAP regimes.
Mr. MacGregor : A number of celebratory events have been planned for 1989. The principal ones are : the launch in January of a centenary appeal for the Save the Children Fund ; the publication in March of a specially commissioned history of the Ministry ; a reception at Lancaster house to be attended by Her Majesty the Queen ; and a major exhibition of the Ministry's work in Hyde park in May as part of the festival of food and farming.
Mr. Donald Thompson : In my announcement to the House on 15 December 1988 ( Hansard columns 674-75) I explained the discussions I was having with the British Deer Farmers Association. I met the Association again on 21 December to discuss these matters further. My officials have also written to a wide range of organisations with an interest in deer farming, inviting their comments on the proposed new measures.
Mr. Donald Thompson : Since the beginning of 1986 tuberculosis in farmed deer has been confirmed in six out of an estimated 250 deer farming premises in Great Britain. Since 1971 only eight wild deer have been found to have been infected with tuberculosis out of a total of 734 carcases inspected in connection with official operations in areas where there is a high risk of infection from badgers.
The extent of tuberculosis in farmed deer will become more clear when legislation, to be introduced shortly, will make the disease notifiable in farmed deer.
36. Mr. McWilliam : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he intends to meet representatives of the National Farmers Union to discuss the new European Community conversion grants.
(2) when he plans to meet the new European Community Commissioner for Agriculture.
Mr. Ryder : My right hon. Friend the Minister met the president of the British Poultry Federation on 5 May 1988 at the lunch following the federation's annual general meeting. They discussed a number of issues of interest to the industry.