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Road Traffic Law

Mr. Key : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to publish the review of road traffic law conducted by the North committee.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : The North report was published in April 1988.

My right hon. Friend yesterday announced publication of a White Paper "The Road User and the Law" (Cm. 576), which sets out the Government's proposals to reform road traffic law in the light of the North committee's recommendations.

Channel Tunnel

Sir John Stanley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will define what is encompassed in the phrase "Channel tunnel rail services" in his answer to the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) 25 January, Official Report, column 571.

Mr. Portillo : My answer referred to section 42 of the Channel Tunnel Act 1987, which encompasses all services for the carriage of passengers or goods by way of the Channel tunnel system.

Bus Fares (Merseyside)

Mr. John Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information his Department has on the level of bus fares on Merseyside since deregulation.

Mr. Portillo : The PTE estimated that the average increase in commercial bus fares occurring after deregulation and following from the introduction of precept control was 55 per cent., as the previous massive subsidies were removed. At the end of 1987 there was a further average increase of 10 per cent.

Traffic Speed in Cities

Mr. Stern : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he expects to bring forward proposals to increase the average speed of road traffic in major cities.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : Traffic management and road construction in major cities are largely the responsibility of local highway authorities. They have duties to secure the expeditious, convenient and safe movement of vehicular and other traffic, including pedestrians.

Available measures to increase the average speed of vehicular traffic must be considered within this framework and the scope for additional road capacity.

The effectiveness of the measures depends on good enforcement of traffic and parking regulations by the police and traffic wardens.

Settle-Carlisle Line

Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if, in light of the recent Settle-Carlisle railway business development plan, he will now lift the closure order on the line.

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Mr. Portillo : We are still considering all the evidence on British Rail's closure proposal including the business development plan.

British Rail (North West)

Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he next expects to meet the north-west regional managers of British Rail ; and what subjects he expects to discuss.

Mr. Portillo : My right hon. Friend holds regular meetings with the chairman of British Rail on a wide range of matters. He does not hold separate meetings with British Rail's regional managers.

London Underground

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many automatic exit barriers are currently in operation at London Underground stations ; and how many are proposed to be installed during the period of London Regional Transport's consultants' study into the safety aspects of these barriers.

Mr. Portillo : I understand from London Underground that as at 2 February 1989, there were 533 gates in use at 49 stations. By the end of April, when the consultants' study is due to be complete, London Underground estimates that a further 118 gates will have been commissioned at a further 12 stations.

Motor Taxation

Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the total revenue from motor taxation in 1987-88 ; and what is the estimated revenue in 1988-89.

Mr. Peter Bottomley [holding answer 6 February 1989] : The information is as follows :

                     Yield (£ billion)      



Vehicle Excise Duty |2.6    |2.8            

Fuel Duty           |7.8    |8.6            

Safety Plans

Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he has taken to encourage and help local authorities to implement low -cost safety engineering schemes and to develop areawide safety plans.

Mr. Peter Bottomley : We are working closely with the local authority associations to identify problems over implementing low-cost safety engineering schemes and ways of stepping up this important safety work.

We are already developing jointly with the Institution of Highways and Transportation practical guidelines for implementing areawide urban safety projects. Last autumn we increased the economic valuation for fatal road casualties and this will improve the economic rate of return on accident investigation and prevention schemes. The transport and road research laboratory has now completed a full survey of local authorities' arrangements, procedures, and levels of activity on road safety engineering, and a report will be published shortly.

AIP and urban safety schemes are among the most important methods of reducing road casualties. Much

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expertise already exists at local level and much can be achieved at low cost. It is for local authorities, within their statutory responsibility for road safety, to determine priorities and tackle this work. The Department will continue to give full support and guidance.



98. Mr. Fraser : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent representations have been made by him to the Japanese Government about the killing of whales by Japanese fishermen.

Mr. Donald Thompson : Recently we have expressed our serious concerns to the Japanese Government about their current feasibility programme of whaling for scientific purposes both directly and through the relevant forum of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). In December the United Kingdom commissioner to the IWC expressed our views to the chairman of the IWC in a letter circulated to all member Governments including Japan. This made clear our firm view that Japan should not implement her plans until the major concerns about these identified by the scientific committee to the IWC had been addressed and resolved. The letter was passed personally by the United Kingdom commissioner to the Japanese embassy in London with a clear explanation of the United Kingdom Government's concern. Further, once the period for consideration of the scientific committee's views by commissioners was complete and learning that the programme was to go ahead, I authorised our commissioner to propose a resolution for consideration by the IWC. This was seconded by Australia and New Zealand. If adopted it will put on a formal and international basis the call to Japan to cease its current programme. Our embassy in Tokyo is also in close touch with the Japanese Government. Also, similar concerns expressed by the Falkland Islands Executive Council have been passed to the Japanese embassy.

International Organisations

Mr. Galbraith : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list those international organisations on which his Department is represented and the total cost of these commitments.

Mr. Donald Thompson : Those international organis-ations on which Ministers or officials of my Department are represented are as follows :

The total estimated cost of my Department's commitment to international organisations in 1988 was £283,000.

United Nations (UN)

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)

World Health Organisation (WHO)

Commission of the European Communities

Council of the European Communities

Office Internationale des Epizooties (OIE)

European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO) Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)

Office Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV)

Council of Europe (COE)

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North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

Intergovernmental Commission for the Channel Tunnel

International Coffee Organisation

International Cocoa Organisation

International Society for Horticultural Service

International Dairy Federation

International Whaling Commission (IWC)

North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC)

North West Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO)

European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission (EIFAC)

North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

London Dumping Convention

Oslo Commission (OSCOM)

Paris Commission (PARCOM)

Coordinated Research and Environmental Surveillance Panel (CRESP) International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Ocean (IAPSO)

Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR)

International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) International Seed Testing Association

International Union of Radioecologists (IUR)

North Sea Task Force (NSTF)

Group of Experts on Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution (GESAMP)

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA)

Bird Strike Committee Europe

International Committee for Irrigation and Drainage

International Organisation for Biological Control

International Plant Variety Rights Organisation (UPOV)

International Society for Plant Pathology

International Soil Tillage Research Organisation

International Standards Organisation

Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) The Insecticide Resistance Action Committee

The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property

European Society for Nuclear Methods in Agriculture (ESNA) International Commission on Uniform Methods of Sugar Analysis (ICOMSA)

International Consultative Group on Food Irradiation

International Standards Organisation

Association of Analytical Chemists

International Wheat Council

International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

Goats Milk

Mr. Rooker : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will bring forward proposals for the regulation of the production of goats milk and goats milk products.

Mr. Donald Thompson [holding answer 7 February 1989] : The wording of the Food Act 1984 means that the regulations which apply to cows milk cannot be extended to cover goats milk. However, goats milk and goats milk products are subject to the general provisions of the Act whereby all food (including drink) must be of the nature, substance and quality demanded by the purchaser and must be fit for human consumption. It is also an offence to label goats milk (or goats milk products) in a false or misleading way.

The Ministry issued a code of practice on the hygienic production of goats milk in March 1988.

Beef and Veal

Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the original saving of the measures set out in European Economic Community document 8903/88 on beef and veal ; with what the saving

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was compared ; and what alterations were made to this proposed saving in consequence of the changes agreed at the Council meeting on 23 January.

Mr. Donald Thompson [holding answer 7 February 1989] : The European Commission's estimate of the savings over the 1989 preliminary draft budget which would have been brought about by the adoption of its proposals for the reform of the beef regime (set out in document 8903/88 (COM(88)529), as amended) were 51 mecu (£33 million) in 1989 and 55 mecu (£35.5 million) in a full year. The 1989 budget as adopted was consistent with these proposals. The Commission has revised its forecasts to take account of the decisions of the 23-24 January Council of Ministers and the present prospects for the market and predicts a further saving of 11 mecu(£7 million) in 1989. The Commission estimates that the full year effect of the measures as adopted will be a cost of 23 mecu (£15 million).

Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the exceptional circumstance clause was included in the final text of the measures on beef and veal agreed by the European Economic Community Council on 23 January ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Donald Thompson [holding answer 7 February 1989] : The Council of Ministers decided that in various circumstances buying into intervention could take place outside the limit of 220,000 tonnes a year. These would include the exceptional circumstances envisaged in the Commission's original proposals and also if there were market weakness defined in either of two ways. The first is if the average market price in at least three member states or regions which together account for at least 55 per cent. of the Community production of the category concerned falls below 80 per cent. of the institutional intervention price ; and the second, if the Community price falls below 78 per cent. of the institutional intervention price. Legal texts have yet to be adopted implementing these provisions.

These concessions on beef intervention were one of the reasons why we voted against the package.


Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what additional milk production can be permitted in consequence of the additional quotas agreed at the Council meeting on 23 January ; and what estimate he has made of the additional cost to the common agricultural policy.

Mr. Donald Thompson [holding answer 7 February 1989] : The Council has agreed to allocate up to 600,000 tonnes of additional milk quota. I understand that the Commission now estimates the resultant cost to the Community budget in a full year to be 99 mecu (£64 million). Other elements in the package agreed by the Council should result in savings of 64 mecu (£41 million) giving a net cost in the milk sector of 35 mecu (£23 million).

Variable Premium

Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what increase in the retail price of beef he anticipates in terms of pence per pound in the United

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Kingdom in consequence of the abolition of the variable premium ; and if there will be any consequent increase in consumer prices in the rest of the European Economic Community.

Mr. Donald Thompson [holding answer 7 February 1989] : The abolition of the variable premium in the United Kingdom was decided by the Council in the context of other decisions to limit intervention and to reduce buying-in prices ; to apply in the United Kingdom the Community special premium for beef ; and to improve the terms of the suckler cow subsidy. Taken together these measures are unlikely to have any significant effect on retail prices in the United Kingdom and they place the United Kingdom beef market on the same footing as the rest of the Community.


Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the total amount of beef exported by the European Economic Community in 1988 ; and what were the comparable totals for each of the previous five years.

Mr. Donald Thompson [holding answer 7 February 1989] : During the period January-August 1988 (the latest for which figures are available) 357,503 tonnes of beef were exported from the European Community. This excludes exports from Greece for which 1988 figures are not yet available. The calendar year figures for the previous five years are as follows :



1983       |<1>427,786           

1984       |<1>566,151           

1985       |<1>591,907           

1986       |<2>935,887           

1987       |<2>691,912           

<1> EC 10.                       

<2> EC 12.                       


Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether research is currently being undertaken or is planned, to examine the possibility of links between bovine leukaemia virus and the incidence of leukaemia in children whose fathers are engaged in the meat trade ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Donald Thompson [holding answer 7 February 1989] Various studies have been carried out into this subject but I am not aware of any research currently being undertaken or planned.


Mr. Cousins : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many man-years of his Department's staff time were engaged in the supervision of abattoirs in 1979-80, 1980-81, 1981-82 and 1982-83.

Mr. Donald Thompson : In my reply to the hon. Member on 18 January I provided information for all years for which figures are available. Staff engaged on this work have other responsibilities and time allocated to specific duties is not recorded for the years prior to 1983-84. However, resources allocated in earlier years were similar to those employed in 1983 -84.

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Social Security Fraud

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how much money has been lost in each year since 1979 because of social security fraud ; and how many prosecutions have resulted (a) nationally and (b) in the social security area covering Nottingham.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : I refer the hon. Member to my reply to him on 31 January at column 192 .

Insulation Grants

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what is the total value in current and standard prices of grants for (a) draughtproofing and (b) loft insulation to claimants of supplementary benefit and income support for the last five years ; (2) what is the maximum grant for (a) draughtproofing and (b) loft insulation payable to claimants of supplementary benefit and income support in each of the last five years ; and what is the value of this maximum in standard prices ;

(3) what is the number of grants made for (a) draughtproofing and (b) loft insulation to claimants of supplementary benefit and income support since 1983.

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