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71. Mr. Ron Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has received any recent representations from the National Farmers' Union of Scotland about egg production ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : Officials of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland have met representatives of the National Farmers Union of Scotland to discuss what further action might be taken to tackle the problem of salmonella in eggs. The union generally welcomed the measures announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on 18 January at columns 214-15.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the breach of safety licence by the South of Scotland electricity board at its Hunterston A Magnox nuclear plants on 25 August 1988.
Mr. Lang : On 25 August 1988, the Health and Safety Executive's nuclear installations inspectorate was informed that fuel supply valves in the Hunterston A diesel generator system had been found in a closed position. No release of radioactivity had occurred and there was no immediate danger to the public or staff. However, in view of the alleged breach of a key operating rule requiring that sufficient diesel generating plant be kept ready for use in an emergency the South of Scotland electricity board was prosecuted and a fine of £1, 500 was subsequently imposed by the Kilmarnock sheriff court on 6 February 1989.
The open way in which the South of Scotland electricity board reported the incident to the nuclear installations inspectorate and the thoroughness of the investigations carried out by both parties are indicative of the determination of both the Government and the South of Scotland electricity board to maintain stringent nuclear safety standards. I am confident that the operators and the nuclear installations inspectorate take very seriously their responsibility in this regard, and that they will continue to do so after privatisation of the electricity industry.
Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland on how many occasions since 1979 his Department has made extradition applications for terrorist or other offences ; and how often, by whom and for what reasons such requests have been rejected.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Information in respect of requests made to foreign and Commonwealth Governments is not available centrally and cannot be obtained except at disproportionate cost. In relation to the Republic of Ireland, I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Londonderry, East (Mr. Ross) on 8 December 1988.
Mr. Kennedy : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what further consultations are planned and by what methods, with the following involved in or affected by the recent adverse weather conditions in the Scottish Highlands (a) Highland regional council, Inverness district council, Ross and Cromarty district council, (b) riparian landowners and tenant farmers in the Conon valley and residents in Conon Bridge, (c) the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board and (d) the British Waterways Board.
Column 346Wednesday 8 February, and met a number of local representatives at that time. Reports have been requested from the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board, Highland regional council and Inverness district council and we are in touch with the British Waterways Board. We are preparing a report on the River Conon floodbank arrangements and will be discussing proposals with those affected. Further consultations will be undertaken with interested parties as and when appropriate.
Mr. Kennedy : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make it his policy to set up an inquiry into the recent flooding of the River Conon, Ross-shire, to include consideration of (a) the role of the hydro board with regard to water control, flow and release in and from nearby dams, (b) the question of suitability of previous embankment repairs on a limited basis, (c) the recommendations for comprehensive flood protection schemes as outlined in earlier consultants' reports ; and if he will make a statement.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board has been asked for a report on its releases of water prior to and during the recent flooding. The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland is preparing a report on the damage sustained by floodbanks. Until these reports have been studied it is too early to make any statement either on the suitability of the present arrangements or on a comprehesive flood protection scheme such as that outlined in the earlier consultants' report.
Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will list, for each health board, the number of mental handicap nurses from each of the old grades who have been assimilated to each of the new grades.
Mrs. Margaret Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list in the Official Report full details of the programmes which his Department intends to submit to the European Economic Community Commission in Brussels for support under objective 5b of the reformed Community structural funds.
Mr. Andrew Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the financial incentives available for first-time housebuyers since 1979, showing any changes in the amounts offered ; and whether any further measures are planned.
Column 347Since then discount levels have been increased, and we have introduced a number of other improvements to the scheme to make it easier for tenants to purchase their homes. We have also introduced provisions to enable local authorities to offer grants to assist their tenants to obtain accommodation other than as a tenant of the local authority. Also, we have retained tax relief on mortgage interest which gives substantial help to most housebuyers in Scotland, and the limit on qualifying loans was increased from £25,000 to £30, 000 in April 1983.
Under the Homeloan scheme, first-time buyers who are registered and have saved with an approved institution for at least two years can apply for a bonus on their savings of up to £110 and a loan of £600, interest free, for up to five years. The house price limits in the Homeloan scheme are kept under review. On 9 February the Government laid an order which proposes increases in the limits in all areas in Great Britain. However, the Homeloan scheme has been ineffective, and the Local Government and Housing Bill introduced on 1 February, includes powers for bringing the scheme to an end in Great Britain. The operation of right to buy, and mortgage tax relief, are kept constantly under review.
Financial year |Number of approvals |Value of assistance (£ |million) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1984-85 |92 |2.3 1985-86 |158 |3.8 1986-87 |136 |2.9 1987-88 |125 |5.2 1988-89<1> |75 |4.5 <1> Estimate.
Mr. Eadie : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, pursuant to his reply of 1 February, Official Report, column 306, what response he has now made regarding the approach made to him concerning Newbattle Abbey college, Dalkeith.
Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the cost of the video recording concerning the Government's proposals for the National Health Service that is being shown to National Health Service staff in Scotland ; whether any bodies or indviduals independent of the Government were given an opportunity to contribute to this public information exercise ; how much staff time will be taken up in viewing this material ; and if he will provide facilities for alternative comments on the future of the National Health Service to be projected to National Health Service employees.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : As regards costs, I refer the hon. Member to my reply of today to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace). The video recording includes contributions from several people in the Health Service as well as members of the Government. I hope that all those who work in the Scottish Health Service will have the opportunity to see the 15-minute video presentation, which explains the Government's proposals set out in the White Paper "Working for Patients". Since these proposals will affect everyone concerned with the delivery of health care in future, it is in keeping with the best practice of responsible management to ensure that the proposal are clearly explained. That does not apply to the variety of comments that may arise from other sources.
|Rates per household |Average rate bill per |1988-89 |adult 1988-89 |£ |£ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Borders |360 |211 Central |478 |249 Dumfries and Galloway |385 |212 Fife |475 |258 Grampian |394 |215 Highland |363 |209 Lothian |582 |314 Strathclyde |533 |279 Tayside |466 |263 Berwickshire |355 |214 Ettrick and Lauderdale |358 |205 Roxburgh |356 |209 Tweeddale |379 |224 Clackmannan |450 |237 Falkirk |427 |226 Stirling |585 |297 Annandale and Eskdale |382 |210 Nithsdale |398 |210 Stewartry |399 |235 Wigtown |355 |199 Dunfermline |465 |244 Kirkcaldy |459 |254 North East Fife |525 |292 Aberdeen City |432 |231 Banff and Buchan |346 |192 Gordon |393 |221 Kincardine and Deeside |398 |224 Moray |337 |182 Badenoch and Strathspey |381 |243 Caithness |313 |174 Inverness |428 |230 Lochaber |359 |213 Nairn |423 |234 Ross and Cromarty |365 |213 Skye and Lochalsh |253 |165 Sutherland |248 |164 East Lothian |595 |317 Edinburgh City |603 |333 Midlothian |557 |275 West Lothian |514 |271 Argyll and Bute |446 |277 Bearsden and Milngavie |887 |423 Clydebank |468 |241 Clydesdale |507 |257 Cumbernauld and Kilsyth |546 |271 Cumnock and Doon Valley |431 |221 Cunninghame |514 |283 Dumbarton |584 |309 East Kilbride |570 |280 Eastwood |791 |399 Glasgow City |506 |274 Hamilton |553 |280 Inverclyde |515 |263 Kilmarnock and Loudoun |485 |259 Kyle and Carrick |579 |303 Monklands |523 |255 Motherwell |502 |251 Renfrew |541 |284 Strathkelvin |607 |280 Angus |426 |242 Dundee City |486 |278 Perth and Kinross |465 |255
Mr. Ron Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about Lothian health board's proposals to close the paediatric unit and the evening accident and emergency unit at Edinburgh Western general hospital.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : Lothian health board is considering the responses received to a consultative document issued on 25 November about changes to paediatric services in its area. The board proposes to open a purpose-built medical paediatric ward at the new district general hospital at Livingston and to provide the accident and emergency services and the medical paediatric in-patient services for the remainder of its area at the Royal hospital for sick children, Edinburgh. Outpatient medical paediatric services will continue at the Western general hospital, Edinburgh and the surgical paediatric workload there will increase following other recent changes to paediatric services in Edinburgh.
Mr. Michael Forsyth [holding answer 14 February 1989] : A total of £36,384.13. We spent £21,177.50 plus £3,176.63 VAT on the production and duplication of video cassettes, and £12,030 on copies of an explanatory leaflet, the better to explain the White Paper's proposals to the 150,000 people working in the Health Service in Scotland, and to a number of other interested groups.
11. Mrs. Clwyd : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he next plans to meet representatives of the Institution of Professional Civil Servants ; and what matter he expects to discuss.
Column 350Parliamentary Secretary has recently attended the annual delegate conference of the AFRC branch of the IPCS at its invitation.
Mr. MacGregor : I last met the chairman of the Forestry Commission on 3 October 1988 when we discussed progress in the task of clearing and replanting woodlands damaged by the previous October's storm in south-east England.
Mr. MacGregor : I have no specific plans to do so at present, though my colleague the Parliamentary Secretary, Baroness Trumpington, will be meeting the South Wiltshire branch of the NFU on 10 March to discuss various agricultural matters.
Mr. MacGregor : There have been some preliminary discussions on the Commission proposals for reform of the sheepmeat regime, with some member states insisting that the revised voluntary restraint agreement with New Zealand should be concluded first. I do not anticipate rapid progress.
Mr. Donald Thompson : A proposal to phase out the sheep variable premium scheme forms part of the European Commission's proposals for a review of the sheep regime. It will be discussed on the next occasion that these proposals are placed before the Council of Ministers.
Mr. MacGregor : The main purpose of Food and Farming Year is to make the success of British agriculture and the food industry more widely understood. A wide-ranging programme of events both national and regional has been put together by a Committee representing all parts of the industry. And with full support from the Ministry.
Mr. MacGregor : The funding of British Food and Farming Year has been undertaken by the industry itself. The viability of the national events such as the festival in May in Hyde park, the travelling exhibition and the teachers' resource pack has been assured by generous sponsorship from major companies. The many local activities are being similarly supported by local organisations and farmers. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has provided funds for an educational pack illustrating certain current agricultural issues and is linking its own centenary exhibition with the Hyde park festival. The Crown Estate and the Countryside Commission have also given assistance.
16. Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps have been taken to improve the welfare of horses, ponies and other equines since 1979 ; what further measures he proposes to take and when ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Donald Thompson : Horses and other equines have always been protected by the general legislation on animal welfare. Since 1979 they have benefited from the Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act and the Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act. My Department hopes this year to finalise a draft order and code of practice giving horses statutory protection in markets for the first time, and we are also preparing new measures on welfare at slaughter.
Mr. Ryder : I met representatives of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors on 9 November 1988. My right hon. Friend the Member of Suffolk Coastal (Mr. Gummer), then Minister of State, met the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers on 10 June 1988, when he spoke at their AGM. I have been hoping to meet the CAAV for some time and will do so as soon as a mutually convenient date can be found.
Mr. Ryder : My right hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. MacGregor) last met the chairman of the council on 8 November to discuss the council's report on consumers and the common agricultural policy. I also met the council on 7 December when we discussed a wide range of topics. I firmly believe that close liaison between my Department and consumer groups is essential and I, my ministerial colleagues and officials, have regular contact with the council on matters of mutual interest and concern.
63. Mr. Leadbitter : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent representations he has received regarding the prohibition of the use of T nets in the southern area of the Northumbrian water authority area.
Mr. Donald Thompson : We have received a number of representations about the salmon net fisheries off the north-east coast of England. A recent report to Ministers of a public inquiry into a proposed byelaw has been published and we shall be reviewing the fishery, and salmon net fisheries in eastern Scotland, presenting a report to Parliament, as required by the Salmon Act 1986.
Mr. Ryder : I have arranged for the trade union side in my Department to be kept fully informed of developments in the normal way. My noble Friend Baroness Trumpington attended the annual delegate conference of the AFRC branch of the IPCS on 9 February.
Mr. Ryder : Following a comprehensive review of flood prevention requirements undertaken with the assistance of drainage authorities, the Government identified the need for an increased long-term programme of work, and have made additional funding available for both local and water authority schemes. Government funding for flood prevention work undertaken by these authorities and internal drainage boards will be £21 million, £24 million and £30 million for the next three years on capital programmes of £57 million, £66 million and £81 million respectively.
Mr. MacGregor : By 31 January 1989, some 650 farmers throughout the United Kingdom had applied to plant a total of about 4,600 hectares of woodland under the farm woodland scheme. This is an encouraging start. A substantial proportion of the proposed planting will be with broadleaves. Although final figures are not yet available applications to the Ministry indicate that broadleaved planting may account for around 75 per cent. of the area planted across the country as a whole.
Most applications already submitted should be approved in time for planting to go ahead this season. Although it is unlikely that any further applications received from now on will obtain approval for planting this spring, I would encourage any interested farmers to start making plans and preparing applications for next year. More generally, we are seeing the success of our broadleaves policy with broadleaved trees being incrasingly used for the creation of new woods and the regeneration of older woodland. Most new planting in England will be in the lowlands in future.
Mr. Donald Thompson : We consider that the Government should focus their resources on basic and strategic science and research of a public good nature and necessary to carry out its responsibilities. Against that background we have reviewed publicly funded fisheries research and development and are now discussing with industry organisations the extent to which they are ready to fund certain research at Torry research station which is primarily concerned with the development of new products and processes.
Mr. Donald Thompson : Since 1972 this appointment has been made alternately for three-year periods by my Department and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland. My director of fisheries research, based in Lowestoft, became co-ordinator in January 1989.
Mr. Donald Thompson : Reflecting our serious concern on whaling issues, I have recently authorised the United Kingdom commissioner to propose a resolution to the International Whaling Commission dealing with the current whaling operating being undertaken by Japan for scientific research studies. If adopted, the resolution will
Column 354formally call upon Japan to cease her research plans until the major concerns identified by the International Whaling Commission scientific committee have been addressed and resolved.
Mr. Donald Thompson : Research needed in support of the Government policies for food safety and quality and related underpining work will continue to be publicly funded. Other research primarily concerned with the development of new products and processes is more appropriate for industry funding ; and we are discussing with industry organisations the extent to which they will be ready to fund such work at Torry, in addition to the services which Torry research station already provides on a repayment basis.
Mr. Donald Thompson : The Government's policy is to maintain this country's freedom, through stringent domestic and import control measures, from serious animal diseases such as foot and mouth disease. For other, less serious diseases, which do occur, the policy may be one of eradication, control or the provision of advice. In determining what action is appropriate an essential, consideration is the need to safeguard the public from those animal diseases which can be transmitted to man.
Mr. Donald Thompson : Research studies revealed that the most likely cause of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was the feeding of ruminant-based material to cattle. This practice was banned from 18 July last year. Various other research projects are being undertaken, including a study to determine whether cattle-to-cattle transmission can take place. There is no evidence that the disease can be transmitted to humans.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he intends to make public the report of the Southwood committee on the human health implications of bovine spongiform encephalopathy ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Donald Thompson : I announced my proposals for the control of tuberculosis in farmed deer on 15 December 1988 Official Report, columns 674-75 . Urgent consideration is now being given to the comments made on the proposals by interested organisations. I have no plans to introduce measures for wild deer.
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in each of the last five years how many cases of tuberculosis have been confirmed in persons engaged in working with farmed deer in the United Kingdom ; and whether any such cases have been confirmed as originating from deer.
Mr. Nicholls : I have been asked to reply. Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1985, employers are required to report cases of tuberculosis among their employees if the employees in question work with persons or animals or with human or animal remains or with any other material which might be a source of infection. Since the regulations came into operation in April 1986 one case of tuberculosis in a person working with farmed deer has recently been
Column 356reported, but this case has not been confirmed. I regret that comparable information for previous years is not available.
Mr. Ryder : Officials of my Department are currently engaged on discussions in Brussels on a proposal which would require suppliers of feeding-stuffs, including mixed poultry feeds, to declare the ingredients or categories of ingredients which have been used. This would supplement the detailed information already required for such products.
In addition, further controls are to be introduced on the processing and importation of animal protein, and codes of practice are being drawn up which will cover the handling, storage and manufacture of poultry feedingstuffs and their components.