Previous Section Home Page

Naval Visits

Ms. Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish in the Official Report the details which are available of specific visits by ships and submarines of other countries' navies since 1 January 1988 giving the date of arrival, date of departure, details of moorings and country of origin.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : The information that the hon. Member requires is not readily available. I will write to her in due course.

Ms. Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish in the Official Report a list of Royal Navy vessels which have visited the port of London since 1 January 1988, giving the date of arrival, date of departure and details of moorings.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : The information requested is as follows :


Ship               |Dates             |Moorings                             

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sandpiper          |17-21 March 1988  |Tower Pier                           

Peterel            |17-21 March       |Tower Pier                           

Jersey             |26-28 March       |HMS Belfast                          

Ariadne            |20-25 April       |HMS Belfast                          

London             |28 April-4 May    |HMS Belfast                          

Hunter             |20-27 May         |Tower Pier                           

Sheffield          |25-30 May         |HMS Belfast                          

Onslaught          |1-6 June          |HMS Belfast                          

Brocklesbury       |10-15 June        |HMS Belfast                          

Bronington         |23-27 June        |HMS Belfast                          

Brocklesbury       |1-7 July          |Tower Stairs Pier                    

Apollo             |8-12 July         |HMS Belfast                          

Redpole            |16-22 September   |HMS Belfast                          

Mentor             |17-22 September   |HMS Belfast                          

Wilton             |2-7 December      |HMS Belfast                          

Cornwall           |18-24 January 1989|HMS Belfast                          

Ms. Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish in the Official Report, the details of planned visits in 1989 to the port of London by military vessels of the royal and other navies giving date of arrival, date of departure, details of moorings and country of origin.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : It is not our policy to comment on future movements of Royal Navy vessels, nor would it be appropriate to comment on the movements of vessels of other navies.

Courts Martial

Mr. Ashley (Stoke on Trent South) : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many courts martial took place during 1988 ; in how many cases there was an acquittal ; and in how many of these the member of the forces was told that there was no case to answer. Mr. Neubert : There were 976 courts martial held in 1988, of which 101 resulted in a acquittal. As it can take up to 12 weeks to confirm sentence, those figures may not represent the final total for the year. It is not possible to provide the additional information requested by the right hon. Member without disproportionate cost.

Low Flying

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make a statement on the speed, height


Column 845

and purpose of eight low-level flights by jet aircraft over East Linton, East Lothian, between 11.15 am and 11.50 am on Friday 10 February ;

(2) if he will make a statement on the speed, height and purpose of the low -level flight by two jet aircraft over Roadlands hospital, Haddington, at 10.5 am on Tuesday 21 February.

Mr. Neubert : Military aircraft are authorised as a matter of routine to carry our low-level flying training in the areas mentioned at heights no lower than 250 ft and at speeds normally not exceeding 450 knots.

Challenger 2

Mr. Robert G. Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence further to the reply by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement on 13 January, Official Report, column 783, whether a contract has now been signed with Vickers Defence Systems to allow it to demonstrate that the Challenger 2 mk 2 main battle tank can meet the required specification, delivery time and cost.

Mr. Sainsbury : I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Mr. Conway) on 23 January 1989 at column 453.

Tern hill Barracks

Mr. Sean Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what civilian activities take place at Tern hill barracks ; when those activities take place ; whether any facilities are provided for a gliding club ; and what security arrangements are made for the civilian activities.

Mr. Neubert : No civilian activities take place on a regular basis at Clive barracks, Tern hill. Civilian sports clubs have been invited to compete against the resident battalion infrequently. On such occasions, members of the latter have escorted members of the former throughout such visits.

RAF Tern hill, a totally separate organisation whose buildings and real estate abut onto Clive barracks, is the venue for weekend gliding activities. These sessions come under the umbrella of No. 632 volunteer gliding school. All instructors and students are reserve/cadets members of the RAF, the only civilian element in these activities being some civilian instructors who accompany cadets who visit RAF Tern hill at weekends. All RAF Tern hill personnel and visiting glider students reach the airfield through Clive barracks. Their identities are checked on arrival before they are escorted through Clive barracks to the point of entry on to the airfield, a crash gate in the southern perimeter fence which is the dividing line between the barracks and the airfield.

The only other civilians who enter Clive barracks on a regular basis are those who work in the camp and those who deliver goods or provide services. The former categories are subject to normal civil service vetting procedures and the latter group are escorted throughout the period they are within the camp.


Column 846

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Consumer Consultation

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what institutional arrangements his Department has for consulting consumers.

Mr. Ryder : Consumer committees for Great Britain and for England and Wales are established under the Agricultural Marketing Act 1958. Their role is to consider and report to Ministers on the effect on consumers of the operation of marketing schemes approved under the Act. Schemes currently apply to milk, potatoes and wool and are operated by the marketing boards.

In addition, there are Acts such as the Food Act 1984 which require Ministers to consult organisations representative of interests which might be substantially affected by proposed secondary legislation. Consumers are consulted in all appropriate cases.

Consumer organisations have, in addition, been fully involved in the extensive consultations on the review of Food Act 1984. Twenty-eight consumer organisations and 14 health organisations have been consulted.

Nitrates

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his oral answer to the hon. Member for Linlithgow 16 February, Official Report, column 474, if he will set out the various sources of his research advice on nitrates in water.

Mr. MacGregor : I receive research advice from a wide variety of sources including ADAS, Agricultural Food and Research Council centres such as Rothamsted, and the Water Research Centre.

Food Research Institute, Langford

Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received to retain funding for the food research institute at Langford, near Bristol since the recent concern regarding salmonella and listeria in food ; what his present intentions are for this institute ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ryder : We have received a number of representations from interested individuals concerning the funding of the research work on the manipulation of microbial flora of the gut of young chickens at the Agricultural and Food Research Council's food research institute at Langford. After an extensive review of all food microbiology research being funded by the Ministry, it was decided that this particular research was clearly at the stage of take-up and development by the poultry industry. The technique is already being applied on a trial basis by at least two British companies. In addition, an overseas company has applied for an import licence. The funds released are to be diverted to other important areas of the Ministry's extensive programme of research into microbiological food safety.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science is responsible for research councils but I understand that directors of the AFRC's eight institutes have been asked to produce long-term plans for


Column 847

reorganising their activities on to a smaller number of sites. The institute of food research will present to the AFRC options for the restructuring of its three laboratories on to two sites. The council will then make a decision based on a detailed analysis and appraisal of these options and taking full account of the scientific programme of the institute.

Cheese

Mr. Amos : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, if he will make a statement on the proposed banning of the sale of cheeses made with unpasteurised milk.

Mr. Ryder : There is no proposal to ban the sale of cheeses made with unpasteurised milk. However, as part of the consultation process on the proposal to ban the sale of untreated milk, I shall be seeking comments as to whether cheeses made from such milk should be labelled to make this clear.

Potatoes

Mr. Yeo : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what is the total United Kingdom consumption of potatoes for the latest available period ;

(2) what is the total United Kingdom consumption of imported potatoes for the latest available period ;

(3) what is the total United Kingdom consumption of home-grown potatoes for the latest available period.

Mr. MacGregor : United Kingdom consumption of potatoes for 1987-88 (June-May) was as follows :


                     |Thousand tonnes                

-----------------------------------------------------

Home grown<1>        |5,684                          

Imported             |1,047                          

                     |-------                        

Total consumption<2> |6,731                          

<1> Supplies recorded as moving into human           

consumption.                                         

<2> Including potato products.                       

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what date his action to ban the use of animal by-products in cattle food became operative ; and if he will make a statement ; (2) what action his Department has taken to enforce his ban on the use of animal by- products in the manufacture of cattle feed ; (3) whether he will introduce regulations permanently banning the use of animal by-products in the manufacture of feed for cattle and other ruminants.

Mr. MacGregor : The use of ruminant-derived protein material in ruminant feedstuffs has been prohibited since 18 July last year. The ban will continue unless processing methods sufficient to destroy the agent which causes BSE are developed and widely available. Ministry officials are empowered to take and test samples of feedstuffs if they have reason to believe that the law is being broken, but there is no evidence to suggest that this is so.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has made any estimate of the incidence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy which goes unreported.


Column 848

Mr. MacGregor : There is no evidence available to suggest to me that farmers are failing to report suspected cases of BSE ; indeed, the number of cases being notified to the Ministry indicates a high level of co- operation from the farming industry.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he will list those intiatives he has taken to date to research into the epidemiology of bovine spongiform encephalopathy ; (2) whether his Department possesses any information on the vertical transmission of bovine spongiform encephalopathy ; (3) whether his Department has taken any steps to trace the progeny of dairy or beef cattle subsequently found to be suffering from bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

Mr. MacGregor : The Ministry has initiated research to obtain descriptive epidemiological information about BSE, to examine the role of meat and bone meal as the source of BSE, and to determine whether cattle-to -cattle transmission can take place. Progeny of affected animals are being monitored as part of this study.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what information he has about the total volume of milk from bovine spongiform encephalopathy infected cattle, banned from sale for human consumption ;

(2) whether he has any plans to introduce a compensation scheme for milk from bovine spongiform encephalopathy infected cows.

Mr. MacGregor : Animals affected by BSE produce little or no milk. Information about the total volume is not available. There are no plans to introduce a compensation scheme for milk.

Forestry Commission (Sporting Rights)

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if it is his practice to require the Forestry Commission to secure income from the letting of all sporting rights ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ryder : It is the practice of the Forestry Commission to let the sporting rights over land under its management where this is compatible with forestry operations and public access, and to secure a market rental for such rights.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what revenues accrure to the Forestry Commission in England from the issuing of (a) licences for fox hunting and (b) letting of other sporting rights.

Mr. Ryder : The Forestry Commission receives no income from licences for fox hunting. In the year ended 31 March 1988 it received almost £160,000 from letting other sporting rights. In addition, about £48,000 was realised from day permits for shooting and fishing.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will issue instructions to the Forestry Commission to amend its earth stoppers code, so that badger setts shall not be subject to any interference by fox hunters ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ryder : I see no reason to issue such instructions to the Forestry Commission. Its earth stoppers code is designed so as to prevent undue interference with badger setts.


Column 849

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will place a copy of the Forestry Commission's "Authority to Hunt" document in the Library.

Mr. Ryder : It is the Forestry Commission's policy to allow fox hunting over land where it has been traditionally carried out. Where it is considered appropriate, written permission is given and a copy of the form of permission used in the Forestry Commission's east England conservancy is being placed in the Library.

Food Additives

Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many additives appear on his Department's list of food additives including flavourings and colours at present in use in Britain ; and whether he has any plans to add to this list.

Mr. Ryder : There are about 300 additives, including colours listed in United Kingdom regulations and about 3,000 flavourings in use which are subject to the provisions of the 1984 Food Act. I have recently circulated proposals on preservatives and emulsifiers and stabilisers which would add three new substances and delete four substances from the permitted list. New regulations will also be required to implement the EC directive on extraction solvents. In addition, I have announced our intention to ban the use of mineral hydrocarbons in food as soon as possible. Applications to use new food additives may be reserved from time to time and would be subject to careful evaluation by two independent expert advisory committees, the food advisory committee and the Department of Health's committee on toxicity.

Official Secrets

Mr. Gordon Brown : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the advisory committees coming under his Department and concerned in some way with public health which are covered by the Official Secrets Act whose members are required to sign the Official Secrets Act.

Mr. Ryder : It is our normal practice to require members of the steering group on food surveillance to sign the Official Secrets Acts declaration.

Fisheries Council

Mr. Harris : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Fisheries Council in Brussels on 23 February.

Mr. Donald Thompson : I attended the Council of Fisheries Ministers in Brussels on 23 February 1989.

The Council agreed reduced tariff import quotas for 1989. These come into operation on 1 April. The total quantities are below last year's levels and some tariffs are at a rather higher level, reflecting changes in supplies and prices. I am satisfied that the final agreement maintains a good balance between the interests of consumers, processors and catchers.

The Council had a useful first discussion of a proposal to provide Community financing to improve member states' control and enforcement arrangements.


Column 850

The Council agreed to accept an offer to fish an extra 4,000 tonnes of cod from Greenland, but on the understanding that this was in accordance with and not outside the EC-Greenland agreement so as not to prejudice EC claims for fishing rights at Greenland.

The Council also agreed the approach to a possible EC-USSR framework agreement. The Commission will be undertaking discussions with the USSR and any exchange of fishing rights is likely to be confined initially to the Baltic sea.

White Mineral Oil

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he received a report from Shell outlining the dangers of white mineral oil in food.

Mr. Ryder [holding reply 22 February 1989] : This issue has been the subject of extensive investigations by the joint expert committee of the WHO/FAO on food additives, the committee on toxicity of chemicals in food, consumer products and the environment and the food advisory committee. Ministers received the advice of the food advisory committee on 2 February this year and announced their intentions to Parliament on 9 February.

Wood Crops

Mr. Speller : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he will list the European Community sources of grant or loan or technical assistance for the conversion of low-grade agricultural land into the production of arable wood crops ; (2) what European Community assistance is available for farmers or landowners who seek to plant arable wood crops for cropping as a fuel feedstock and for conversion to electricity.

Mr. Ryder : As part of the set-aside scheme, which is a national scheme implementing European Community legislation, farmers and landowners may plant trees for short rotation energy coppice under the non- agricultural use option. The rate of premium is £150 per hectare (£130 per hectare in less-favoured areas).

There are also provisions in Council regulations (EC) 797/85 as amended for a Community contribution towards member states' expenditure on afforestation of agricultural land subject to various conditions. There are no specific provisions for Community aid towards production specifically of crops for fuel.

Mr. Speller : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what help he will give to farmers or landowners who seek to plant arable wood crops for cropping as a fuel feedstock and for conversion to electricity ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ryder [holding answer 22 February 1989] : Assessment of the technical and economic feasibility of using such arable crops for fuel feedstocks or for conversion to electricity is primarily a matter for the Secretary of State for Energy. However, under the set-aside scheme introduced by my Department last year, aid is available for the planting of trees as short rotation energy coppice on land taken out of arable use.


Column 851

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Paraguay

Mr. Steel : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if Her Majesty's Government will make representations to the new President of Paraguay about the need for the forthcoming elections to (i) permit all political parties to participate, and (ii) provide sufficient time for parties other than the Government to organise and campaign.

Mr. Waldegrave : On 10 February, the Spanish ambassador in Asuncion expressed on behalf of the Twelve to the new Paraguayan Foreign Minister our hope that the necessary conditions would be created to permit a genuinely democratic process, and that the promised elections would include all the political forces in the country. We shall continue to encourage the Paraguayan authorities to facilitate conditions necessary for free and fair elections.

Fiji

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government have received a request from the present Government of Fiji for assistance in drafting a constitution for that country.

Mr. Waldegrave : The Government of Fiji have made such a request. We have agreed to recruit a constitutional expert to provide independent advice to the Government of Fiji.

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government have made any representations to the Government of Fiji, regarding the drafting of the constitution.

Mr. Waldegrave : We have kept in touch with the Government of Fiji and constantly encouraged them to return Fiji to parliamentary government on the basis of a constitution acceptable to a majority of all sections of the community.


Column 852

Libya (Weapons)

Sir Eldon Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his NATO colleagues about common measures among all members of the Alliance to prevent Semtex explosives and shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles being supplied from Libya to the Irish Republican Army.

Mr. Waldegrave : None.

Sir Eldon Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to institute common action by all member countries of the European Economic Community to prevent European companies from supplying to Libya Semtex explosives, anti-aircraft missiles and equipment or technology that can be used to build chemical weapons ; and if he will make a further statement.

Mr. Waldegrave : In 1986 EC member states agreed a series of measures against Libya including a ban on the export of arms and other military equipment ; these are still in force. On 20 February 1989 the EC adopted a regulation controlling the export of eight chemical weapon precursors. Discussion continues among the Twelve about possible further measures to counter chemical weapon proliferation in Libya and elsewhere.

Background Briefs

2. Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to whom in the United Kingdom he makes available his Department's background briefs.

Mr. Waldegrave : FCO background briefs are produced for use overseas. However, a small number are distributed in the United Kingdom, principally to members of both Houses of Parliament, journalists, academics, specialists in certain areas, certain institutions and libraries.

Members of the general public may obtain copies through their local public library from the British library lending division.


 

  Home Page