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Peat (Alternatives)

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is conducting a research into alternatives to peat for horticultural use ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ryder : A number of projects for finding alternatives to, or decreasing the use of, peat in the horticulture industry (for instance work on rockwool, hydroponics and using compost additives like bark) have been undertaken by my Department in recent years. Some of this work has already been taken up by growers and it could provide a firm basis for further reductions in usage if this is necessary.

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Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if the provisions in chapter 1 of annexe 11 of the draft regulation (PVET/2508) which prohibits the killing of wild game in an unacceptable manner or a manner which will cause unnecessary suffering, fall to be considered by majority vote or by unanimity ; and what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government on these proposals ;

(2) if the provisions in EEC draft regulations which require game carcasses to be transported in refrigerated trucks to official game processing houses fall to be considered by majority vote or by unanimity ; what is the voting procedure for the proposal that game should be inspected within 24 hours of death ; and what are the categories of game covered by these particular proposals ; (3) what assessment he has made of the consequences of field sports in the United Kingdom of the EEC Council draft regulation on game meat and rabbit meat ; what is the position of Her Majesty's Government on the draft with particular reference to the post-mortem examinations by official veterinarians of deceased game and rabbits ; what stage has been reached in the discussion of these proposals ; and whether they fall to be considered by majority vote or by unanimity ;

(4) what estimate he has made of the number of game covered by the EEC directive which are shot each year ; what is the EEC description or definition of game ; and what he estimates would be the additional provision of veterinary surgeons required to implement the proposals.

Mr. Donald Thompson : The document referred to is a working draft for a proposed Council regulation on game and rabbit meat for human consumption. The regulation would be made under article 43 of the Treaty of Rome which provides for decisions to be taken by qualified majority vote.

The draft provision on refrigerated transport would apply to all wild game but only where considered necessary by national authorities. The provision for inspection within 24 hours of shooting would also apply to all wild game although longer periods for eviscerated game may be permitted. Exemptions from these provisions and from other requirements of the measure are proposed for game sold in small quantities by the sportsman to the consumer or through sales points which are inspected regularly.

The proposed regulation would apply to all game animals and birds killed for sale for human consumption and which are not already subject to Community legislation.

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Official statistics of the numbers of wild game animals and birds shot each year in the United Kingdom are not collected but estimates made by the game industry are as follows :



deer       |80,000               

pheasants  |12,000,000           

duck       |1,000,000            

pigeon     |10,000,000           

partridge  |500,000              

grouse     |500,000              

These figures include large quantities of game consumed or given away by sportsmen which would not be affected by the draft proposal. Discussions are still at an early stage and it is too early to make an estimate of the veterinary or other resources which might be required. The Commission is well aware of our view that the present proposals do not take adequate account of the circumstances under which wild game meat is produced. We have already secured some important improvements and will seek to ensure that measures which may be adopted to remove obstacles to trade within the single market do not place unnecessary burdens on game interests in this country.

Animal Welfare

Mr. Rogers : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he last met representatives of the British Veterinary Association to discuss animal welfare.

Mr. Donald Thompson : I have not met members of the British Veterinary Association recently but my officials are in frequent contact with them.

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Mr. Grocott : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how much coniferous and deciduous planting has taken place on farmland in England and Wales since the last Budget ; and, of this, how much was subject to the new tax arrangements introduced in that Budget.

Mr. Ryder : In the year to 31 March 1989, the Forestry Commission grant aided 1,728 hectares of new planting (752 hectares conifers and 976 hectares of broadleaves) in England and 923 hectares of new planting (710 hectares of conifers and 213 hectares of broadleaves) in Wales on land that was formerly in agricultural use. A total of 2, 371 hectares of this planting could have attracted tax reliefs under the transitional arrangements announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his 1988 Budget.

The Commission itself carried out 191 hectares of new planting on former agricultural land in England and Wales (159 hectares of conifers and 32 hectares of broadleaves).


Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many additional agriculture development and advisory service officers he intends to recruit to visit farms to advise on nitrates in water as outlined in his document "Nitrate Sensitive Areas Scheme."

Mr. Ryder : No decision has been taken on the number of farms which will be visited or the consequential staffing implications, pending adoption of the necessary legislation by Parliament and the outcome of the consultations undertaken on 9 May.


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