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House of Fraser

Mr. Gould : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department received any inquiries from Kleinwort Benson about the history of the Al-Fayed brothers in the course of the takeover of the House of Fraser.

Mr. Eggar : While the prosecution authorities are considering the report of the inspectors appointed on 9 April 1987 by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry under section 432 of the Companies Act 1985 to investigate the affairs of the House of Fraser Holdings plc, it would not be appropriate for me to comment.

South Africa

Mr. Steel : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will initiate collective action by European Community Governments against South Africa for its use of its embassies for illegal actions in host countries.

Mrs. Chalker : We expect all countries to abide by their obligations under the Vienna convention especially

"to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving state". There are no plans for collective EC action against South Africa. We are carefully examining the implications of the events that led up to the arrests in Paris on 21 April.

North Atlantic Assembly

Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what changes have been made in the composition of the United Kingdom parliamentary delegation to the North Atlantic Assembly.

Mr. Waldegrave : The hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell) has replaced the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) as a member of the delegation.

United Kingdom Embassies

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which countries presently do not have a United Kingdom embassy ; what is the reason for the absence ; and what steps are being taken to establish an embassy in each case.


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Mrs. Chalker [pursuant to the reply, 27 April 1989 c. 595] : Of those territories recognised by the United Kingdom as independent sovereign states, the United Kingdom does not have an embassy, a high commission, or a consulate-general accredited to the following : Albania

Argentina

Bhutan

Cambodia

Iran

Libya

Syria

The United Kingdom does not have diplomatic relations with Albania or Cambodia.

The United Kingdom does not have diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Bhutan but maintains friendly contacts and conducts official business with its embassy in New Delhi.

Iran broke diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom in March this year. British interests are represented by the Swedish embassy in Tehran, where there are no United Kingdom staff.

There are British interest sections with United Kingdom staff in the embassies of protecting powers in Argentina, Libya and Syria. The staff of the British embassy in Afghanistan have been withdrawn for security reasons.

There are no plans at present to establish additional representative offices.

DEFENCE

Volunteer Gliding Schools

Mr. Bill Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give details of the number of volunteer gliding schools which at present have no airfield in the part of the United Kingdom which they were established to serve.

Mr. Neubert : Two volunteer gliding schools established to serve the north-east and south coast of England are currently without an airfield.

Mr. Bill Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he can give details of the areas of the United Kingdom which are without a volunteer gliding school ; and what proposals his Department has to establish volunteer gliding schools in these areas.

Mr. Neubert : The north-east, north-west, and south coast of England are poorly served by volunteer gliding schools. We are currently examining the possibility of acquiring an ex-RAF site in the north-east.

Mr. Bill Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many volunteer gliding schools are operational ; and how many are currently in suspense.

Mr. Neubert : Twenty-eight are operational and two are in suspense.

Mr. Bill Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give details of the number of officers and instructors currently on the strength of volunteer gliding schools.

Mr. Neubert : Volunteer gliding schools currently have a strength of 235 officers and 233 civilian gliding instructors.


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Mr. Bill Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give details of the number of Volunteer Reserve officers on the staff of volunteer gliding schools who have over 25 years' service.

Mr. Neubert : Seven.

Mr. Bill Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he can give details of the type of motor glider which has been selected to replace the Venture glider at volunteer gliding schools.

Mr. Neubert : I refer my hon. Friend to the written answer given to him by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement on 10 January at column 533.

Z-berths

Ms. Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the purpose of a Z-berth ; if Z-berths have permanent safety precautions against radiological hazards ; and if he will publish in the Official Report the locations of all the Z-berths in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : A Z-berth is a berth designated for occasional operational or recreational visits by nuclear-powered warships. Its safety arrangements will include a public safety scheme prepared after discussion with the local authorities and civil emergency services, which will provide for a Royal Naval incident commander and a naval emergency monitoring team in the area to stand by throughout any such visit to respond to an emergency. The monitoring team has access to a supply of potassium iodate tablets, and carries out monitoring during the visit.

The United Kingdom Z-berths are at Barrow-in-Furness, Barry, Brodick bay, Campbeltown, Cardiff, Coulport and Loch Long, Devonport and Plymouth Sound, Faslane, the Firth of Forth, Glen Mallan, Lamlash bay, Lerwick and the Shetland isles, Liverpool, Loch Ewe, Loch Fyne, Loch Goil, Loch Striven, Portland, Portree, Portsmouth, Raasay (Broadford bay), Rosyth, Rothesay, Southampton, Spithead, Thurso bay and Torbay.

Ms. Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many meetings there have been between his Department and local and port authorities concerning the possible locating of a Z-berth at Tilbury ; when a decision is expected ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : As I said in my answer to the hon. Member for Clwyd, South-West (Mr. Jones) on 9 March 1989 at column 677, my officials have had preliminary discussions with port and local authorities about visits to Tilbury by Royal Navy ships, including nuclear-powered submarines. This remains the position. It would be premature to anticipate the outcome of these discussions at this stage.

Naval Emergency Monitoring Organisation

Ms. Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the purpose of the naval emergency monitoring organisation ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : The naval emergency monitoring organisation is responsible within the Royal Navy for radioactive monitoring and hazard evaluation, and for advice on radiation levels in the event of an accident involving nuclear weapons or nuclear reactors.


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X-berths

Ms. Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the purpose of an X-berth ; if X-berths have permanent safety precautions against radiological hazards ; and if he will publish in the Official Report the locations of all the X-berths in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : An X-berth is a berth designated for frequent and regular use by nuclear-powered warships, or a berth in a dockyard or naval base which is suitable for the building, refit, repair or maintenance of nuclear-powered warships. All X-berths have as an integral part of their safety arrangements a permanent health physics department, a local emergency monitoring organisation and a local safety plan prepared under the auspices of a local liaison committee. The United Kingdom X-berths are at Barrow-in-Furness, Devonport, Faslane and Rosyth.

Community Charge

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his Department's policy concerning provision of information about service personnel whose home addresses are in Scotland, but who are serving elsewhere, to poll tax registration officers in Scotland.

Mr. Neubert : It is not my Department's policy to provide information to community charge registration officers (CCROs) in Scotland other than the names and addresses of personnel serving in the areas for which the CCRO is responsible.

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what provision has been made to compensate service personnel who are affected by the imposition of the poll tax in Scotland for the fact that they have to meet this cost while their colleagues from other parts of the United Kingdom do not.

Mr. Neubert : Service personnel in Scotland who pay service accommodation charges are no longer required to pay the rates element of such charges, and can offset this amount against their community charge liability. Personnel serving in Scotland who are currently not paying these charges could be in a worse financial position in the interim year to 31 March 1990, than they would be when the community charge applies in England and Wales. In such circumstances I am prepared to consider, exceptionally, claims for some financial compensation.

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will provide advice to service personnel and to Scottish poll tax registration officers concerning the fact that personnel who are serving outwith Scotland, notwithstanding the fact that their home address is in Scotland, are not liable to register for the poll tax in Scotland.

Mr. Neubert : Comprehensive guidance about the liability of service personnel for the community charge has been agreed with community charge registration officers and issued to service personnel. It is based on the general assumption that the sole or main residence of service personnel is where they live in respect of their work, although individuals may seek alternative treatment if their circumstances justify it.


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Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the security implications of the publication of poll tax registers which show the Northern Ireland addresses of personnel who are serving in Northern Ireland, but who may be liable to pay the poll tax in respect of home addresses in Scotland.

Mr. Neubert : In such circumstances, community charge registers will include only the address in Scotland in respect of which community charge liability arises, and not the temporary address in Northern Ireland. All entries for service personnel will be in the same style as those for civilians and will not include their rank.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Rates

Mr. John D. Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the average rate of increase in (a) the non-domestic regional rate and (b) the domestic regional rate.

Mr. Ian Stewart : The regional rate for 1989-90, as published in the Rates (Regional rate) Order (Northern Ireland) 1989, is 138.07p, an increase of 12.63 per cent. on last year's rate of 122.59p. This rate applies unadjusted to all non domestic ratepayers.

Domestic ratepayers have benefited, for many years, from an allowance of 12p in the pound in the form of a domestic rate aid grant. This has the effect of reducing the charge on them this year to 126.07p, an increase of 14 per cent. on last year's rate of 110.59p. Since the domestic rate is set at a level 12p lower than the regional rate, its percentage increase is calculated on a lower base and will, therefore, always be higher than the percentage rise in the regional rate.

ENERGY

DIDO Reactor Harwell

Mr. Andrew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what plans there are to install a secondary borated water shutdown system into the DIDO reactor at Harwell.

Mr. Michael Spicer : I understand that the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority are considering the installation of a borated water injection system for the DIDO reactor at Harwell. This would supplement the normal and emergency shutdown systems which the reactor already has.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Animal Health

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what animal health issues have been discussed by the Council of Ministers during the second half of 1988 and 1989.

Mr. Donald Thompson : The following issues have been discussed during this period :

the recognition of parts of the Community as officially free from classical swine fever ;

the recognition of parts of Spain as free from African swine


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fever ;

the socio-economic implications of the use of antibiotics and Bovine Somatrophin in dairy production ;

and the combating of Aujeszky's Disease.

Meat and Bone Meal

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has had discussions with other European Economic Community member states about the export of meat and bone meal from the United Kingdom.

Mr. Donald Thompson : No.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what information he has on European regulations concerning the incorporation of meat and bone meal in ruminant feedstuffs ; (2) what information he has on regulations governing the incorporation of meat and bone meal in animal feedstuffs in each individual European Community member state.

Mr. Donald Thompson : I have no detailed information on legislation which applies in other member states but the incorporation of meat and bone meal into animal feedingstuffs is permitted in all member states. In the United Kingdom statutory controls prohibit the feeding of ruminants with ruminant protein and all meat and bone meal which is added to feedingstuffs is required to be salmonella free.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what European quality standards apply to the production of meat and bone meal.

Mr. Donald Thompson : There are at present no European Community rules applying to the production of meat and bone meal.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has received representations from any other country concerning the quality of meat and bone meal exported from the United Kingdom ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Donald Thompson : France, West Germany and Israel have requested additional certification to accompany meat and bone meal exported from the United Kingdom. For France, fresh arrangements have been agreed which are being used by exporters. Certification intended to meet Germany's need is currently being devised. Specific requirements made by Israel are being examined to establish whether suitable measures can be offered their authorities.


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Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has issued any advice to countries which import meat and bone meal rendered in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Donald Thompson : No.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information he has on the quantities of sheep carcases used by the United Kingdom rendering industry ; and what proportion of those quantities are rendered into meat and bone meal.

Mr. Donald Thompson : An estimated 15.3 per cent. of material used by the rendering industry comes from sheep. Most of this is slaughterhouse waste, so only a small part would be carcases. The proportion of carcases rendered into meat and bone meal is not known.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the United Kingdom feedstuffs industry first started using meat and bone meal in dairy rations.

Mr. Donald Thompson : The date when such material was first used is not known but meat and bone meal have been included in feedstuffs for at least 40 years.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether his Department has any new information on the destruction of the agent causing bovine spongiform encephalopathy by rendering.

Mr. Donald Thompson : No new information is yet available beyond that contained in the Southwood report.

Consultation

Mr. Boswell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, following the report of the National Consumer Council on food policy and the consumer, he intends to alter his Department's arrangements for making public responses to consultation exercises.

Mr. Ryder : I am pleased to announce that, following a recommendation by the National Consumer Council, we will, in future, arrange for a list of names and addresses of respondents to all formal consultation exercises in the food area to be made available to anyone on request. This will enable people to contact relevant organisations if they want to examine responses in detail. We will also consider issuing summaries of the responses, whenever we can.


 

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