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Sir Richard Body : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the major differences between current United Kingdom and EEC standards for slaughterhouses ; and what are the major differences between current United Kingdom and United States Department of Agriculture standards for slaughterhouses.
Mr. Donald Thompson : EC legislation on red meat slaughterhouse standards applies to plants in member states which engage in intra- Community trade. At present, the United Kingdom and other member states set rigorous standards for plants which supply only their national markets. Hygiene requirements and meat inspection procedures in the United States do not differ significantly from our own domestic legislation ; however EC and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) rules on construction and layout are more closely specified and detailed. Flexibility in these respects is possible for domestic production where current monitoring of operations and enforcement are in the hands of local enforcement authorities. In fact one significant difference is that we depend largely on environmental health officers in domestic plants but EC and USDA rules require veterinary supervision in export plants.
EC legislation on poultry meat slaughterhouse standards applies to all licensed poultry slaughterhouses in the UK. There are no major differences between that legislation and USDA requirements.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what guidance he has given to local environmental health officers in their supervision of slaughterhouses ; what standards he expects them to ensure in those slaughterhouses ; what letters, circulars, or other representations he has made to local authorities about
Column 240slaughterhouses in the last two years ; and what requests he has made to local authorities for monitoring reports on slaughterhouse standards and for returns of human and financial resources applied to slaughterhouse supervision.
Mr. Donald Thompson : Environmental health officers (EHOs) are employed by local authorities which have responsibility for enforcing slaughterhouse hygiene and inspection standards required by : The Slaughterhouses (Hygiene) Regulations 1977 as amended ; The Meat Inspection Regulations 1987 ; and The Fresh Meat Export (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1987.
Ministry veterinary officers visit all slaughterhouses to monitor standards and to give advice and guidance tailored to the circumstances of individual premises. This advice and guidance is confirmed by letter to the local authority concerned.
The resources employed are a matter for local authorities. Returns are not collected. We have the highest regard for EHOs and their professionalism.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what standards of hygiene, equipment, maintenance, personnel training, waste disposal and the comfort and handling of animals are applied to slaughterhouses ; and what additional standards are required by the European Community Commission for meat exported to the European Economic Community.
The Slaughterhouses Act 1974 ;
The Slaughterhouses (Hygiene) Regulations 1977 (as amended) ; The Meat Inspection Regulations 1987 ;
The Authorised Officers (Meat Inspection) Regulations 1987 ; The Meat (Sterilisation and Staining) Regulations 1982 (as amended) ;
The Slaughter of Animals (Prevention of Cruelty) Regulations 1958 ; and
The Slaughter of Pigs (Anaesthesia) Regulations 1958.
Training of slaughterhouse personnel is a matter for the industry and the nationwide scheme run by the Institute of Meat is recognised by the National Council for Vocational Qualifications.
In addition, meat for intra-Community trade must comply with the conditions of the Fresh Meat Export (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1987. These implement EC directive 64/433 on intra-Community trade in fresh meat and require that meat is produced in premises approved by my Department as meeting the detailed requirements as to structure and layout which those regulations require. Supervision and certification by an official veterinary surgeon is also required. This is not an additional requirement but a different one ; domestic slaughterhouses rely largely on environmental health officers whose professional status is of the highest order.
Mrs. Margaret Ewing : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate his Department has made of the number of qualified veterinary surgeons required to operate a system of meat hygiene in abattoirs at a level comparable to standards currently in existence in Norway and Germany.
Column 241satisfactory standards of hygiene in abattoirs. Our arrangements for non-exporting plants, operating under the supervision of environmental health officers, are capble of ensuring satisfactory standards.
Mr. Ryder : The Government have a series of measures to tackle the salmonella problem. Provisions will be made for the resources necessary to implement them. In addition the joint MAFF/Department of Health national food hygiene education campaign will be launched early this year.
Mr. Ryder [holding answer 31 January 1989] : The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food does not have responsibility for rats in urban areas, but the Department maintains an extensive research programme to ensure continued efficiency of rat control in rural areas. Work is not directed at monitoring rural populations.
Mr. Gregory : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how much financial assistance has been given by his Department towards tourism for each year since 1983 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ryder : Under the agricultural improvement scheme introduced in 1985 grants for tourism and craft facilities were available in the less- favoured areas. The farm diversification grant scheme, introduced in January 1988 extended the list of eligible activities and offered grants of 25 per cent. on capital investments both inside and outside the LFA. Over two thirds of applications under that scheme have been for tourism and recreation projects. Grant approved for craft and tourism and farm diversification projects in England has been :
|£ ------------------------------ 1986 |161,293 1987 |186,181 1988 |2,587,902
In addition, the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service has continued to offer free general advice to individuals and to marketing groups such as the Farm Holiday Bureau.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action his Department took to prevent distribution of animal feed contaminated with salmonella from those protein processing plants identified as being contaminated by salmonella during 1987 and 1988.
Column 242plants to monitor their compliance with the requirements of the Protein Processing Order 1981 and, when salmonella has been found in samples of their product, notices have been served on the plant requiring compliance with the bacteriological standard within a time limit. In all cases resampling has been carried out until a salmonella-free product has been produced. A new statutory provision to stop the supply of products from processing plants where salmonella is found, is being made today.
Mr. Ryder [pursuant to the reply, 18 January 1989,c. 214] : An order has now been made giving powers to Ministry inspectors to prevent movement of processed animal protein out of premises where salmonella contamination has been detected by testing samples of the product. The order is an amendment to the Diseases of Animals (Protein Processing) Order 1981.
Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many cases of illegal use of steroid growth promoting hormones to fatten cattle have been reported to him in each of his Department's regions in 1987 and 1988 ; and in how many cases fines were levied.
Mr. Donald Thompson : Four cases of suspected illegal use of hormone growth promoters, all in Wales, were investigated by officers of the Ministry's legal department in 1988. In one case it was established that treatment took place before the hormone ban was introduced. In the other three cases the evidence was not conclusive enough to warrant prosecutions.
Mr. McTaggart : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the Government's future proposals with regard to the implementation of joint research programmes involving the agrochemical industry into the factors influencing contamination of land and water supplies by pesticides.
Mr. Ryder : Following the Autumn Statement by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer my Department announced extra funding of £2 million in 1990-91 rising to £5 million in 1991-92 for strategic and public good research in a number of areas within its responsibilities including protection of the environment. We are currently preparing programmes internally and will be taking into account the opportunity to involve industry in joint programmes where this is appropriate.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on what Her Majesty's Government are doing to support the 1989 British Food and Farming Year ; and how this fits in with the European Community common agricultural policy.
Column 243the year's special events including the Hyde Park festival in May where there will be a major exhibition relating to the Ministry's work over the last 100 years.
The year will show how much a modern and market-oriented food and farming industry has to offer, which is very much in keeping with recent developments in the common agricultural policy.
Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will give the monthly figures for measured total beta radioactivity from the discharge from Sellafield sea pipeline and Hunterston A and B as derived from the operators' returns to his directorate of fisheries research ; and the figures for the authorised discharge limits in each case, for each year since 1983.
Mr. Donald Thompson [holding answer 30 January 1989] : Authorised discharge limits for both Sellafield and Hunterston for the period 1983-87 are published in the Ministry's annual reports "Radioactivity in Surface and Coastal Waters of the British Isles", copies of which are available in the Library of the House.
Monthly records of radioactivity discharged from these sites are obtained by Departments in confidence. Annual data of discharges and of their radiological consequences are published.
Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many civil servants are employed at ROF Bishopton ; and what discussions have taken place with them and their trade unions as to their future employment.
Mr. Sainsbury : There are 80 civil servants based at ROF Bishopton (including part-timers and Ministry of Defence police), and informal discussions have been taking place with them and their trade unions about their future employment.
Ms. Richardson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what child care provision his Department provides for pre-school age children of civilian Ministry of Defence employees ; what child care provision, for school holiday or after-school care, is provided for employees' children aged five and over ; what plans there are for increasing provision in the next five years ; and how these are to be funded.
Mr. Sainsbury : We are currently examining the feasibility of providing child care facilities for the children of MOD civilian staff in central London, Bath, and other locations throughout the United Kingdom. This examination will include the basis of the funding of such schemes. The schemes being examined include creches and school holiday play schemes. In conjunction with other Government Departments, we are supporting a school holiday play scheme in the Westminster area.
Column 244Force in converting an air raid shelter at its station at Caerwent, Gwent, into a home for lesser horseshoe bats ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Neubert : There was no cost incurred by the Royal Air Force as a result of this project as it was carried out by apprentices from the Army apprentices college, Beachley, to practise their trade skills during their deployment to the station on exercise. This work was wholly consistent with the established conservation policy of the Ministry of Defence.
(2) what is his policy towards the vetting of labourers on Ministry of Defence construction sites.
Mr. Neubert : No directives have been issued concerning the involvement of members of the Economic League in service training courses. It is my policy to give course directors maximum freedom to select speakers on the basis of the value they are likely to contribute to the course, subject only to the usual security considerations.
Mr. Livingstone : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the Sterling model L24A1, also known as the Sterling mark 5, has been issued to or used by the Army serving in Northern Ireland, since 1971.
Patchett-Sterling mark 5). So far as can be ascertained from the available records, this weapon has not been issued to or used by the Army in Northern Ireland.
Mr. Livingstone : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the answer of 10 January, Official Report, column 543, if the Army Board considered references to emotional stability or only reference to a mental problem.
Mr. Livingstone : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the answer of 10 January, Official Report, column 543, who was the assistant adjutant-general who interviewed Captain Holroyd ; and where the interview occurred.
Mr. Livingstone : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the answer of 10 January, Official Report, column 543, in what way Captain Fred Holroyd (retired) was informed of the findings of the special confidential report ; and by whom.
Mr. Neubert : According to our records, Captain Holroyd was shown a photocopy of the special confidential report on his arrival at the depot regiment, Royal Corps of Transport. It is not our policy to name individual officers.
Mr. Grylls : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what safeguards his Department takes to ensure that no one shown by tests to be HIV-positive or to have AIDS is allowed to work in the kitchens or galleys of defence establishments of Her Majesty's ships.
Mr. Neubert : No individual in the armed forces, known to be HIV- positive or to have AIDS, is currently employed in the kitchens of defence establishments or the galleys of Her Majesty's ships. There is, however, no evidence that the human immunodeficiency virus can be transmitted through the handling of food.
Mr. Sainsbury [holding answer 25 January 1989] : There are at present no firm plans to purchase additional Skyguard radar systems. In addition, I would refer the hon. and learned Member to the reply given to him by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces on 25 January at column 652 . The results of these trials are still under consideration.
Mr. Anderson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the South African Government about the raid by security police on 19 January on the offices of the KAGISO Trust, a partner in the special programme of the European Community.
Mrs. Chalker : We are opposed to the harassment of non-governmental organisations engaged in peaceful opposition to apartheid. The South African Government are well aware of our concern to see the continued development of the EC positive measures programme.
Mr. Anderson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to seek to dissuade the South African Government from further proceeding with the Disclosure of Foreign Funding Bill.
Mrs. Chalker : We have told the South African Government that we hope that they will drop their plans for foreign funding legislation. We continue to make clear to them the unacceptable nature of any legislation which affects the provision of aid funds to the black community. We are closely watching developments on the "Disclosure of Foreign Funding" Bill and remain in touch with groups who are likely to be affected if the Bill becomes law.
Mr. Hill : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what changes Her Majesty's Government are seeking to each article of the modified Brussels treaty on Western European Union ; and why.
Mr. Hill : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is Her Majesty's Government's policy towards appointing members of the European Parliament as representatives to the Western European Union assembly.
Mr. Waldegrave : We believe that the membership of the WEU assembly should be drawn from national parliaments as defence questions do not fall within the competence of the European Community. Any change in the method of appointment would require an amendment to the modified Brussels treaty.
Mr. Hill : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to consult the United Kingdom delegation to the Western European Union assembly on the changes he intends to propose to the modified Brussels treaty.
Mr. Hill : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how the Western European Union ministerial organs intend to follow up the session organised by the French Institute des Hautes Etudes de Defense Nationale in November 1988 in order to make European security requirements better known to public opinion.
Mr. Waldegrave : The European session organised by the Institut des Hautes Etudes de Defense Nationale will be followed by similar events organised by other member states including by the United Kingdom in 1990. The WEU secretariat will provide support for these events.
Mr. Hill : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is Her Majesty's Government's policy towards the proposal by M. Rocard, Prime Minister of France, to set up a European higher defence studies institute in the framework of Western European Union.
Mr. Waldegrave : We have noted the proposal to establish a new WEU institute in Paris. We believe that the WEU secretariat in London and the WEU agency in Paris should be located together in Brussels and that, in this context, a small agency working inside the secretariat general could provide valuable research support.
Mr. Hill : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how the Western European Union council intends to pursue the political impetus it declared it wished to give to arguments co- operation ; what relevant initiatives Her Majesty's Government have taken in the council and with what result.
Mr. Waldegrave : The WEU council has kept the question of armaments co-operation under review with a view to intensifying such co-operation and maintaining in Europe a technologically advanced industrial base. The WEU also wishes to encourage the activities of organisations such as the IEPG which has already given a new political impetus to arms co-operation.
Mr. Hill : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the Western European Union council's assesment of the decision announced by the Soviet Union to make major unilateral reductions in its conventional forces in Europe and start destroying its chemical weapons in advance of the end of the Geneva disarmament conference.
Mr. Waldegrave : The recent decisions and announcements of the Soviet Union have been discussed within the WEU and are the subject of continuing analysis. But no formal collective assessment has yet been made.
Mr. Hill : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if Her Majesty's Government intend to intervene actively in the Western European Union council to ensure that the latter defines and makes public, in accordance with the assembly's recommendations, a joint position by Western European Union countries on specific aspects of arms limitation, giving priority to conventional and chemical disarmament ; and when he expects that the Western European Union member countries will make public a collective position on this matter.
Mr. Waldegrave : The WEU council is a forum for exchanging views on security and arms control issues. The responsibility for defining and publicising joint positions on specific aspects of arms limitation rests with NATO.
Mr. Hill : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs why the Western European Union assembly has not yet been informed in any detail either of the existence or of the essential points of the collective position adopted by the Western European Union council on the Start negotiations.
Mr. Waldegrave : It is not the function of the WEU council to adopt a collective position on the Start negotiations. These negotiations are bilateral between the United States and the Soviet Union. It would not be appropriate for European members of the Alliance to adopt positions in a forum where the United States is not present.
Mr. Hill : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how Her Majesty's Government are considering following up the Western European Union assembly recommendation inviting Governments of member countries to keep the press and public opinion better informed about disarmament issues, including the relationship between arms reductions and defence spending.
Column 248press and public opinion well informed about disarmament issues. We already attach importance to such information work and will continue to do so.
Mr. Hill : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is Her Majesty's Governent's policy towards the Western European Union assembly's recommendations regarding the definition of conditions for setting up a European satellite agency in the Western European Union with the initial task of verifying a future conventional arms control agreement ; and if he plans to take appropriate steps in the Western European Union council.
Mr. Waldegrave : We have noted with interest the assembly's recommendations. We agree that satellite verification may be part of a verification regime for a future conventional arms control agreement. The first step will be to undertake further work to ascertain how effective satellite verification would be. The work of the WEU agency could play a useful role in this.
Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to the Russian Government about the plight of the Berenfeld family of Moscow, who first applied for an exit visa in 1977.
Mr. Waldegrave : As far as I can establish, the Berenfeld family has not previously come to our attention. But if my hon. Friend could provide details of this case I would be happy to consider making representations to the Soviet authorities about the Berenfelds.