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Mr. Ryder : Farmers have shown a very encouraging level of interest in the farm woodlands scheme. In the first six months of the scheme over 800 applications have been received to plant a total of 5,700 hectares (14,084 acres) of trees throughout the United Kingdom. A high proportion of the planting will be with broadleaved trees.
60. Mr. Skinner : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the efficiency of safeguards against fraud in the common agricultural policy ; and if he will make a statement.
In Luxembourg last week I drew the attention of the Council to disturbing reports that ineligible butter had been bought in by intervention agencies, which demonstrated the need to take action to improve the controls on intervention. I received assurances from the Commission that it would report to the Council soon how it intended to follow-up recommendations made by the European Court of Auditors in its report on intervention.
I also emphasised the importance of considering the implication for fraud before proposals for new agricultural regulations were adopted by the Council, and of establishing in such regulations specific and cost effective control provisions which would minimise the risk of fraud. I noted that the Commission was reviewing existing regulations against these criteria and received assurances that they intended to improve the clarity and consistency of control provisions in all agriculture regulations.
61. Mr. George Howarth : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment has been made of the effect on farm animals of toxic emissions from industrial processes ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Donald Thompson : In the past 10 years the state veterinary service has investigated 21 cases of toxicity thought to be caused by emissions from industrial processors. In eight of these, two involving cattle, two involving sheep and four various forms of wild life, chemical evidence was found. Seven were linked with contamination of water courses by fuel oils or chemical preservatives, and one with toxic emission from an incineration plant.
66. Mr. Martlew : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on measures to prevent the importation of animal diseases after the establishment of the European internal market.
Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on measures to prevent the importation of animal diseases in the context of the development of the single European market.
Mr. Donald Thompson : The Government will be aiming to secure the right balance between minimising barriers to trade and maintaining the effective veterinary controls necessary to prevent the introduction of disease.
64. Mr. Lewis : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the number of full-time employees in the agriculture industry in 1979 and at the latest available date ; and if he will make a statement.
|Number of workers (000's) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1979 |187.0 1988 |134.9 Source: June agricultural census.
65. Mr. Sean Hughes : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will review his policy concerning compensation for the slaughter of cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will state for each month of the current year the number of cattle identified as bovine spongiform encephalopathy-suspect by ante- mortem inspections at markets or slaughterhouses in the United Kingdom ; and how many of these were subsequently confirmed as infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy by post-mortem inspection.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will publish a table showing the cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy confirmed in each county of the United Kingdom for the four- week period ended 14 April.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has any proposals concerning the sale, to the general public, of eggs which have not been graded by an authorised packer ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. MacGregor : In its report on salmonella in eggs, the Agriculture Select Committee drew particular attention to the fact that cracked eggs carried a greater risk of salmonella contamination ; and that such eggs are often sold directly to consumers by the producer at the farm gate, door-to- door or in a public market. These direct sales by producers of their own production are not covered by the European Council regulations laying down standards for egg marketing.
Column 677Cracked eggs carry an increased risk of contamination because the cracks facilitate entry of bacteria into the inside of the egg, for example through contact with farmyard manure or dust, which may contain salmonella. The Government therefore propose to ban the retail sale by egg producers of eggs with cracks visible to the naked eye. We have today issued a consultation document seeking the view of interested organisations on this proposal and are seeking comments within two months.
I have placed a copy of the consultation document in the Library.
Mr. Sean Hughes : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with respect to the support grades in his Department (a) what is the number of staff employed, (b) how many vacancies there are and how many of these have existed for over one month and over three months, (c) how many temporary and casual appointments there are and (d) how much overtime was worked by them in London and elsewhere.
(a) My Department has 474 permanent staff employed in the office support grades.
(b) There are 38 vacancies, four existed for over one month and 34 have existed for over three months.
(c) There are 24 casual appointments.
(d) During the period 1 September 1988--31 December 1988 office support grades employed in central London worked approximately 9,900 hours overtime ; those outside central London worked approximately 1, 700 hours overtime.
As at 21 April 1989.
Sir David Price : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will make it his policy to ensure that by the end of 1991 all red meat slaughterhouses in the United Kingdom conform to EEC export standards.
Mr. Donald Thompson : The standards of hygiene and meat inspection required by our regulations for non-exporting plants are similar to those required for intra-Community trade. There are however different structural standards, and exporting plants are required to operate under veterinary supervision. Non-exporting plants are supervised by environmental health officers for whom we have high regard. I shall be discussing with the EC Commission and other member states the rules which are to be adopted for all slaughterhouses on completion of the internal market. In those discussions I shall take account of views expresed to my by the interests concerned.
Mr. Ryder : There is no need whatever for the public to stop eating apples, and similar advice, incidentally, has been issued by the United States authorities and confirmed by the United States surgeon general. Nor is there any reason for average healthy people to avoid eating either eggs or any kind of cheese--though we do advise everyone against eating raw eggs or uncooked food made from
Column 678them. We have issued special warnings on lightly cooked eggs and soft-ripened cheese to pregnant women and other vulnerable groups. But I readily confirm the safety of these valuable foodstuffs for consumers generally.
Mr. Donald Thompson : The herpes family of viruses causes a number of diseases. Aujeszky's disease, which is notifiable in pigs, cattle, sheep, goats, deer, horses, dogs and cats, is one of them. I have no plans to make any other a notifiable disease.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, what consultations are taking place between his officials and others regarding the retrieval of the container, containing five tonnes of organochlorine insecticide, Lindane, which was lost when the vessel Perintis foundered north-west of Guernsey on or about 13 March ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Corbett : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, whether he has received a copy of the press notice headed, "Farm Animal Welfare Council disapproves of mink and fox farming", dated 4 April ; and whether he will make a statement on its recommendation that the state veterinary service should be required to effectively monitor standards of management on existing mink and fox farms by visiting them regularly.
Mr. Donald Thompson : I have received a copy of the Farm Animal Welfare Council's statement on mink and fox farming. The state veterinary service already includes visits to fur farms as part of its monitoring of all types of livestock farms for welfare purposes. This monitoring will continue.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what funding is allocated to basic and technological research into food poisoning at universities and food research associations ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ryder : In 1988-89 the estimated funding by my Department of food R and D at universities and food research associations relating to food poisoning, was £445,000. The programme for 1989-90 is still being negotiated.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science also makes funds available to the Agricultural and Food Research Council and universities for basic and strategic scientific research. It is up to the institutions themselves to allocate the resources made available to them. Some will be spent on research into food poisoning.
Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many days supply of (a) milk, (b) butter, (c) meat and (d) grain are currently in store in Britain ; and if he will make a statement.
|Commodity -------------------------------------------- Milk<1> |0 Butter<2> |26 Lamb<3> |21 Beef<2> |11 Pork |3 Ham and Bacon |10-14 Wheat and Barley<2> |20 <1>Raw milk is stored only for very brief periods prior to packaging or processing. <2>Intervention and EC assisted private storage only. Information on the quantities in commercial storage is unavailable. <3>Frozen imported lamb.