|Previous Section||Home Page|
Mr. Donald Thompson : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health provided data on confirmed reports of food poisoning associated with consumption of raw milk in England and Wales in response to a written question from my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Martlew) on 9 February at column 808. No new information has become available during the consultation exercise, nor is it possible to distinguish between serious and trivial cases. However, the very fact that a case is reported means that an individual has been sufficiently ill to consult his doctor.
66. Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is yet able to make a statement on the outcome of the inquiry into the working of the Potato Marketing Board.
30. Mr. Janman : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received from the fishing industry in response to the Government's proposal to abolish the national dock labour scheme.
Mr. Donald Thompson : None, but prior to the Government's proposal being made, the fishing industry had made many representations for removal of the national dock labour scheme in relation to fish landings.
Column 738quality of the British landscape. In addition, the farm and conservation grant scheme, introduced in February, offers, for the first time, grants for repairs to traditional farm buildings and for the regeneration of heather moors and native woodlands as well as continuing assistance for hedge and shelter belt planting and the construction of stone walls.
Farmers entering the set-aside scheme are encouraged to consider ways in which set-aside of their land may benefit the landscape. Moreover, the Countryside Commission will shortly be announcing details of a scheme to encourage farmers to manage set-aside land to benefit conservation and recreation.
Until the effectiveness of these major new schemes becomes clear it would be premature to introduce any additional measures.
72. Mr. Tredinnick : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received recently from representatives of farmers concerning pollution caused by nitrate fertilisers and farm waste ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ryder : Farmers' representatives have in broad terms welcomed the Government's general approach to tackling the nitrate problem as set out in the consultation document recently issued by the Agriculture Departments of England and Wales. They also broadly support the measures being taken to combat the farm waste pollution problem.
35. Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he envisages a further expansion of the production of organic foods following the introduction and processing standards by the United Kingdom register of organic food standards.
Mr. Ryder : I believe that publication of the UKROFS standards and certification schemes will give consumers greater confidence to buy organic food and I hope that producers will respond to the resulting increase in demand.
Mr. Ryder : Yes. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food encouraged Food From Britain in establishing the United Kingdom register of organic food standards (UKROFS) in July 1987. The result of this initiative is that the board of UKROFS, under the chairmanship of Professor Colin Spedding, announced standards for the production and processing of organic food on 2 May. In addition, the European Commission has announced that it will be proposing standards for the whole Community to which, I am sure, the UKROFS standards will make an important decision.
52. Mr. Kirkhope : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the United Kingdom register of organic food standards is developing certification and inspection services to ensure that its requirements are properly enforced.
Mr. Ryder : Yes. UKROFS is offering a certification system for producer organisations whose members produce or process food to UKROFS standards and who are subject to inspection by those organisations. This provides for independent monitoring inspections to be carried out on behalf of UKROFS. UKROFS also offers a certification scheme to independent producers who will be regularly inspected. I am placing a copy of the details of the certification arrangements and standards in the Library of the House.
36. Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has any plans to make an official visit to the experimental horticultural station at Rosewarne, Camborne ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ryder : No. Ministers and officials in my Department are in touch with representatives of local growers and other interests about possible alternatives to the proposed closure as announced by my right hon. Friend in my reply to the hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Boswell) of 21 March.
40. Mr. John Greenway : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will estimate the return on the investment made by the food and agriculture industry in the Hyde park festival.
Mr. MacGregor : The festival was designed to show how much the British food and farming industry contributes to all our lives. The four- day event was a great success and the public response far exceeded expectations. It is not possible to quantify any returns, but I am sure that all those who contributed or exhibited must feel their money was very well spent.
Mr. MacGregor : The festival, which marked the 150th anniversary of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, was a great success and gave tremendous pleasure to hundreds of thousands of visitors. However, it clearly would not be possible to stage such an event very often and I know of no immediate plans for a repeat.
43. Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on any differences between the health standards required for eggs produced in Britain and those required in other European Community countries.
Mr. Ryder : Eggs marketed in the United Kingdom and in all other member states of the Community must meet the standards prescribed in Council regulation (EEC) 2772/75 and Commission regulation (EEC) 95/69. These standards include matters relevant to health such as the cleanliness of authorised egg packing centres and of the eggs themselves.
Mr. MacGregor : I last met the chairman of the Women's Farming Union on 24 February at a forum on 1992 issues held by its Norfolk branch. As might be expected, the topic which dominated discussion concerned the impact of the single European market.
46. Mr. Beith : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will visit Northumberland to meet representatives of the farming industry and to assess the state of agriculture in the area.
47. Mr. Hind : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has any plans to meet the Potato Processors Association to discuss pricing by Dutch competitors in the industry ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ryder : On 15 March the president of the NFU wrote to me, on behalf of the NFU, NFU of Scotland, the Tenant Farmers Association and the Farmers Union of Wales, about various tenancy matters, including a request for tenant farmers to have a right of appeal against any landlords refusal to allow diversification. I am pleased to say that there are signs that tenants are participating in the farm diversification grant scheme and I do not think that any change in tenancy law is appropriate on this point.
My Department here also received representations from some organisations seeking recognition for their members to undertake grant-aided enterprise feasibility studies.
54. Mr. George Howarth : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how much money his Department has paid out in compensation in respect of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in infected cattle.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on what date his veterinary service first received tissues of cows suspected of being infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 742disease were received at the Ministry's central veterinary laboratory on 3 November 1986, which was the same day that the animal was slaughtered.
Mr. Ryder : It is already an offence under food legislation to sell food that is unfit for human consumption or food that is not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by the purchaser. Regulations also already cover matters concerned with the hygiene and handling of food and discussions with interested parties are currently proceeding on how these need to be updated.
Mr. Donald Thompson : The European Council agreed in February 1988 to extend the present milk quota regime until March 1992 and invited the Commission to submit a report on its operation before the end of 1990-91 marketing year. I have been pressing for the future of the regime to be addressed by the Council of Agriculture Ministers as soon as possible.
Mr. MacGregor : I am opposed to co-responsibility levies and shall continue to press for their abolition while respecting budgetary discipline. I am very pleased that, in the recent price settlement, following our pressure the Council has taken a step in this direction, agreeing significant cuts in the milk co-responsibility levy and its removal in less-favoured areas.
Mr. Donald Thompson : Although the Commission has made a number of proposals on animal health issues in anticipation of the realisation of the single market, it has not yet made proposals on the regime to apply after its completion. The Government's position is quite clear. We
Column 743aim to secure the right balance between minimising barriers to trade and maintaining effective veterinary controls as long as they are necessary to prevent the spread of disease.
Mr. Donald Thompson : The salmon farming industry, concentrated mainly off the west coast and islands of Scotland, continues to make an important contribution to our economy, to employment and to export earnings. In 1988, United Kingdom production reached 18,000 tonnes, with a first sale value of some £72 million.
68. Sir Michael Shaw : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the principle of payment to the primary producer, established in the new suckler cow premium, will be extracted to other forms of agricultural support.
Mr. Donald Thompson : Under the common agricultural policy, a wide range of instruments are used to target support in the most appropriate manner, taking account of the different characteristics of the various commodities. Payments to primary producers are used in a number of sectors, but there is no Community policy to generalise their application.
70. Mr. Robert Hicks : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the operation of the European Community common fisheries policy as it relates to Channel cod.
Mr. Donald Thompson : Channel cod, like all other significant fish stocks, is subject to a total allowable catch based as far as possible on scientific advice and agreed annually by the Council of Fisheries Ministers. The current TAC of 23,900 tonnes is 70 per cent. higher than it was in 1983, reflecting the exceptional recruitment of the year classes 1985 to 1987. In the last two years we have secured mid-year revisions to the TAC. The quota allocation of the TAC between member states was settled on the basis of historic catches as part of the 1983 common fisheries policy settlement. Overall the shareout was very
Column 744favourable to the United Kingdom, and for Channel cod we secured a slightly higher percentage than our track record.
Mr. Ryder : We have introduced a range of measures to encourage farmers to seek alternative users for agricultural land. These include the farm diversification grants scheme, set-aside and the farm woodland scheme. Also, ADAS offers advice to farmers on the options for alternative uses of their land. In January, we made available, (through Her Majesty's Stationery Office), "Planning Permission and the Farmer", which was written especially for farmers seeking to diversify. This introductory guide explains how the planning system works and provides advice on presenting a convincing case to planning authorities.
Mr. Ryder : The Agricultural Development and Advisory Service routinely provides technical advice to farmers on pollution avoidance, and co-operates with water authorities over farm pollution problems in particular localities. 50 per cent. grant-aid is available on a wide range of facilities. My Department is also assisting the Department of the Environment prepare new regulations to set minimum constructional standards for slurry installations.
Mr Austin Mitchell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will bring up to date the information in his answer of 14 May 1986, Official Report, column 482, concerning the common agricultural policy ; and if he will add for each year the conversion rate for sterling in terms of the unit of account and of the market rate for the European currency unit.
CAP expenditure <3>Year on yeCAP expendituUnited KingdoConversion rates in real terms cent. total Eunder the CAP expenditure |mecu |£ million |Per cent. |Per cent. |£ million |1 ecu equals -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1973 |3,805 |1,912 |- |82 |63 |0.502321 1974 |3,230 |1,647 |-25 |75 |112 |0.509803 1975 |4,708 |2,637 |+26 |78 |347 |0.560026 1976 |5,796 |3,603 |+10 |77 |213 |0.621578 1977 |7,123 |4,656 |+10 |74 |174 |0.653701 1978 |9,000 |5,974 |+16 |79 |318 |0.663759 1979 |10,880 |7,064 |+ 8 |76 |384 |0.649236 1980 |11,943 |7,232 |- 3 |73 |569 |0.605540 1981 |11,581 |6,449 |-13 |65 |666 |0.556891 1982 |13,077 |7,294 |+ 2 |64 |756 |0.557801 1983 |16,637 |9,759 |+17 |69 |1,085 |0.586581 1984 |19,093 |11,150 |+ 7 |73 |1,310 |0.583969 1985 |20,544 |12,081 |+ 1 |73 |1,187 |0.588051 1986 |23,028 |14,919 |+10 |67 |1,343 |0.647851 1987<1> |23,963 |17,237 |- 3 |67 |1,321 |0.719320 1988<2> |29,158 |19,310 |+17 |67 |1,381 |0.662252 Sources: 1973-1986 EC Commission EAGGF Financial Reports. 1987 Outturn figures. 1988 Provisional outturn. <1>1987 budget year carried 10 months' expenditure. <2>1988 budget year carried 11" months' expenditure. <3>Recalculated since 1986 PQ.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether, in the light of the statement by the head of his Department's pesticide safety division and evaluation unit that it would be 10 years before all the pre-1965 pesticides are reviewed, and that this was due to staff shortages and lack of data, he will increase the resources available for this work ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ryder : The scientific complement of the pesticides data evaluation unit involved in the evaluation and review of agricultural pesticides has been increased from 52 at the end of the 1988-89 financial year, to 60. Staffing levels will be kept under review.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the evidence the advisory committee on pesticides considered in deciding about the use of Alar ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Ryder : I assume that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the evidence considered by the Advisory Committee at its meeting on 20 April 1989. For this meeting the committee received over 30 reports on daminozide and its breakdown product, unsymmetrical
dimethylhydrazine (UDMH), reporting studies on mammalian metabolism, residues in apples, in vitro mutagenicity, subacute toxicity in rats and mice and carcinogenicity in rats and mice.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his reply of 22 May, by how many posts of veterinary officer grade the state veterinary service was reduced in 1986.