Previous Section Home Page

Rabies

Mr. David Young : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proposals he has to monitor the canine population for rabies.

Mr. Donald Thompson : It is not possible to test an animal for the presence of the disease before clinical signs appear. The disease is in any case not present in the United Kingdom.

Straw

Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what quantity of straw is (a) burnt, (b) buried and (c) used to supply materials required for paper making and hardboard on average in each year.


Column 225

Mr. Ryder : My Department's annual sample straw survey indicates the following breakdown for England and Wales :


Column 225


Percentage of hectarage               |1983                   |1984                   |1985                   |1986                   |1987                   |1988                                           

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

Burned in field percentage            |37.7                   |36.7                   |27.7                   |27.1                   |27.2                   |23.8                                           

Incorporated or cultivated percentage |1.8                    |7.1                    |10.4                   |12.4                   |17.6                   |17.6                                           

Baled and removed percentage          |60.5                   |56.2                   |61.9                   |60.5                   |55.2                   |58.6                                           

Total area ('000 hectares)            |3,367.8                |3,431.9                |3,414.6                |3,416.9                |3,336.5                |3,305.4                                        

No significant quantities of straw are currently used for paper making, but an estimated 1 per cent. of the total has been used for hardboard manufacture in recent years.

Desiccated Liver Powder

Mr. Gould : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will designate desiccated liver powder as a food product rather than a pharmaceutical product, so that it requires a health check.

Mr. Donald Thompson : No. However, when the Imported Food Regulations 1984 are reviewed we will ensure that there is no room for doubt about the need for a health mark on imported desiccated liver except where consignments are solely for use in a licensed medicinal product.

Veterinary Surgeons

Mr. Paice : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he is proposing to take to consider the supply and demand for veterinary surgeons, particularly in the light of the Riley report.

Mr. MacGregor [pursuant to his reply, 11 April] : On behalf of United Kingdom Agriculture Ministers and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science I have appointed Dr. E. S. Page, MA, BSc as chairman of a committee to review veterinary manpower needs and demand for veterinary education. Professor K. J. Thomson, MSc Lond., MS Iowa, MA (Agric. Econ) and Mr. B. D. Hoskin, BVM & S, MRCVS, have been appointed as members of this committee. The terms of reference of the committee are :

To assess :

(a) the need for veterinary manpower in the UK, both for the public service and the private sector ; and

(b) the demand for veterinary education from home and overseas students ;

and, in the light of this, to consider and make recommendations on :

(c) how any increased manpower requirement might be met having regard to constraints on public funding and to the potential funding from the UFC and other sources ;

(d) what future arrangements should be developed to assess the demand for veterinary manpower and determine the number of student places.

The Universities Funding Council has decided to postpone consideration of the Riley report until the review is complete.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Balance of Trade (West Germany)

133. Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what was the United Kingdom's balance of trade with West Germany in 1979 and 1988.


Column 226

134. Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what was the United Kingdom's balance of trade with West Germany in 1979 and 1988.

135. Mr. Boateng : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what was the United Kingdom's balance of trade with West Germany in 1979 and 1988.

Mr. Alan Clark : The crude balance of trade with West Germany in 1979 was £1,566 million in deficit and in 1988 was, provisionally, £8,145 million in deficit.

Alcoholic Drinks

Mr. Sims : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster following the Greek Government's removal of the regulatory and other discriminatory taxes on spirits as scheduled on 1 January, what subsequent action Her Majesty's Government have taken to press for the elimination of the remaining discrimination against, inter alia, Scotch whisky as compared with ouzo and brandy.

Mr. Alan Clark : The European Commission's infringement proceedings against the Greek Government are still in progress in the European Court of Justice and, as before, we are keeping a close watch on developments. In addition the Government took steps earlier this year to re-register with Greek authorities the United Kingdom's continued concern about VAT discrimination against, inter alia, whisky along with the United Kingdom's general dissatisfaction with the current taxation structure applied to spirituous beverages in Greece.

Mr. Sims : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what was the outcome of the recent talks in Lisbon between the European Community Commission and the Portuguese Government concerning the discrimination in rates of alcohol tax and value added tax on spirits ; and what further steps Her Majesty's Government are taking to press for the removal of the discrimination.

Mr. Alan Clark : At Her Majesty's Government's request infraction proceedings have been initiated against the Portuguese by the Commission who are still awaiting a formal response. As a result of talks held in November between the Portuguese authorities and Commission services, however, the Portuguese have taken steps to equalise tax on all alcohol, both imported and domestically produced, at 500 escudos per litre.

Mr. Sims : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether the Italian Government's proposed requirement with effect from 1 July for all bottled alcoholic beverages include on their label an anti-litter statement and identification of the container's raw material is compatible with the European Community Commission proposal currently under discussion which would prescribe two mandatory European Community symbols


Column 227

for refillable and recyclable beverage containers, respectively ; if he will seek suspension or postponement of the requirement for United Kingdom alcoholic beverages exports to Italy pending agreement on the European Community directive ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Alan Clark : If introduced, the Italian Government's requirement would pre-empt the discussions which are currently taking place between member states and the Commission on the Commission's proposed amendment to the Beverage Containers Directive EC 185/339, which would require labelling as to material, recyclability and refillability. I understand that Italy has declared its intention formally to notify the Commission of the proposed new law. My Department is keeping in touch with the Commission to ensure that the notification procedure, which would allow member states' observations during a standstill period, is gone through before the law can be introduced. The United Kingdom's position is that new national legislation in this area is inappropriate while discussions are continuing on a Community regime.

Manufactures

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he will publish in the Official Report , a table showing for the years 1970 to date for the European Economic Community 12 and for the rest of the world, imports and exports of manufactures less erratics, at current and at 1988 prices, together with an index of relative export prices based on 1970 = 100.

Mr. Alan Clark : Taking the EC and the rest of the world as two blocks, and disregarding intra trade within them, EC exports may be considered equal to the rest of the world's imports and vice versa. Similarly relative export prices of EC to the rest of the world will be equivalent to EC's export prices relative to import prices. Because figures for a consistent configuration of the EC are not readily available for the period, a volume index is provided rather than a constant price series. It is not practical to identify and exclude erratic items for these trading blocks.

The available figures are as follows :


EC trade in manufactures<1> with rest of world                               

            Value<2>              Volume<3> (1980 = 100)Terms of trade<4>    

           |Exports   |Imports   |Exports   |Imports   |(1980=100)           

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

1970       |46.9      |26.5      |n/a       |n/a       |n/a                  

1971       |51.5      |26.9      |n/a       |n/a       |n/a                  

1972       |55.3      |29.3      |n/a       |n/a       |n/a                  

1973       |67.2      |37.7      |n/a       |n/a       |n/a                  

1974       |94.8      |49.6      |n/a       |n/a       |n/a                  

1975       |101.8     |49.3      |n/a       |n/a       |n/a                  

1976       |118.6     |64.4      |n/a       |n/a       |n/a                  

1977       |137.4     |72.6      |n/a       |n/a       |n/a                  

1978       |145.6     |82.8      |n/a       |n/a       |n/a                  

1979       |158.7     |98.7      |99.8      |93.2      |98.6                 

1980       |180.7     |118.3     |100.0     |100.0     |100.0                

1981       |205.6     |120.7     |106.7     |97.2      |97.0                 

1982       |222.2     |130.5     |104.1     |96.4      |98.4                 

1983       |234.9     |144.8     |102.3     |99.2      |98.1                 

1984       |272.8     |174.9     |110.6     |108.1     |95.2                 

1985       |299.9     |182.7     |115.6     |111.1     |94.8                 

1986       |277.9     |185.7     |107.5     |120.2     |100.4                

1987       |275.9     |198.6     |104.5     |131.1     |103.6                

n/a Not available.                                                           

<1> SITC 5-8.                                                                

<2> Billions of European Currency Units; 1970-84 EC10, 1985 onwards EC12.    

<3> 1979-80 EC9, 1981-1985 EC10, 1986 onwards EC12.                          

<4> EC export unit value as percentage of EC import unit value; 1979-80 EC9, 

1981-1985 EC10, 1986 onwards EC12.                                           

Source: Eurostat.                                                            

Buses

Mr. Hanley : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report on Ulsterbus Ltd. and Citybus Ltd. will be published.

Mr. Maude : The report is published today. The Commission concluded that Ulsterbus and Citybus ran a very efficient operation in spite of the severe problems presented by civil disorder.

The Commission say that the companies have had to cope with a high level of civil disorder which has presented many severe problems, not least the destruction of over 1,100 buses since 1969 and many more damaged. Nevertheless, they found an efficient, low-cost, lean organisation with short chains of command, supported by loyal, hard-working and frequently courageous staff.

They also found that there was little scope for the companies to reduce costs without affecting the quality of service provided and that :

(a) manpower and vehicles were efficiently used and maintenance procedures were effective ;

(b) methods of determining the nature, amount and timing of capital expenditure would benefit from the use of systematic appraisal techniques and of whole-life costing ;

(c) further studies and experimentation were needed to refine the relationship between fares and costs ; and

(d) the companies' efforts to take more account of the impact of quality of service on demand and to make greater use of minibuses were worthy of support.

They also make recommendations on the financial framework and management information systems, comment on the competition from the Black Taxis and discuss the question of fares evasion.

In terms of priorities for action they first endorse and make recommendations about implementing the companies' new market-led approach and its emphasis on the needs of the customer and, secondly, recommend a clear financial framework in line with the 1978 White Paper on nationalised industries.

The Commission found that neither company was pursuing a course of conduct which operated against the public interest. They were more than impressed by the dedication of the companies' staff at all levels to maintaining their services to the public in the face of severe harassment.

Ulsterbus Limited and Citybus Limited will be producing a preliminary response to the Commission's findings within 3-4 months, in the light of which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will make a statement.

Imports

Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what amount of imports came to the United Kingdom in 1988 for each £100 of exports ; and what was the comparable figure in 1970.

Mr. Alan Clark : Imports into the United Kingdom in 1988 were estimated to be £126 for each £100 of exports on a balance of payments basis. The comparable figure for 1970 was £100.


Column 229

Balance of Trade (EEC)

Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what estimate he has made of the balance of trade with the EEC in 1989 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Alan Clark : My Department has made no estimate of the 1989 United Kingdom trade balance with the rest of the European Community.

Alcoholic Drinks

Sir Anthony Grant : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what representations he has received from regional and local brewers about the consequences of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report on the supply of beer ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maude : I am aware that there has been considerable speculation in recent weeks about the discussions taking place with the Brewers Society and other interested parties.

The principal concern, both of the MMC and the Government, is the dominant market position of the national brewers, who account for 75 per cent. of United Kingdom beer production, 74 per cent. of the brewer-owned tied estate, and 86 per cent. of loan ties. We have no intention of introducing measures which might adversely affect the competitive position of regional and local brewers. Their continued success is vital to achieving the objective of a freer market with wider choice which was behind the MMC's recommendations.

The MMC's principal proposal, which we are still considering, was to limit pub ownership to a maximum of 2,000--a proposal which of its nature applies only to the national brewers. I can say that our intention is that certain measures, in particular the requirement to allow tenants to choose a cask conditioned guest beer ; the abolition of the tie on low alcohol and non alcoholic beers, ciders, wines and spirits and soft drinks ; and any measures to reduce local monopoly, should apply to the national brewers but not to other brewers. There is general agreement that greater security should be provided for tenants. There appears to be a consensus that while it would be appropriate to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 to remove the present exception for licensed premises, it would not be right to go further and require additional provisions for tenants' protection in a mandatory brewers code of practice.

DEFENCE

Federal Republic of Germany

Mr. Greg Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will outline the United Kingdom military contribution to the defence of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : The British Army of the Rhine and RAF Germany are important parts of the overall United Kingdom contribution to NATO and they have an essential role to play in the defence of the European mainland. Full details of their composition and roles are contained in the 1989 Statement on the Defence Estimates (Com. 675-I).


Column 230

Nuclear Submarines

Mr. John Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the most serious accident that has taken place in or near dock in British waters of a British or American nuclear-powered submarine.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : Comprehensive records of accidents involving nuclear submarines since the start of the nuclear submarine programme are not readily available. The most serious accident in terms of harm resulting to people is believed to be the death of a Royal Navy officer who fell from HMS Dreadnought while in dock at Chatham in 1976. There has never been any accident involving a Royal Navy submarine which has led to a radiological hazard to service personnel or members of the public.

The United States would be obliged under a bilateral agreement to inform Her Majesty's Government immediately in the event of an accident involving the reactor of a nuclear-powered warship visiting the United Kingdom ; no such accident has been reported to us.

Radiation

Mr. Lewis : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what further radiation checks have been carried out on Royal Navy sailors and personnel exposed to nuclear weapons and reactors ; and what were the findings.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : Medical records of all naval personnel are analysed annually, and any health trends are identified. There have been no special surveys to determine whether there is any evidence of medical disorders arising from exposure of Royal Navy nuclear submarine personnel to radiation. However, routine medical surveillance is carried out for those Royal Naval personnel designated as radiation workers in accordance with the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1985.

Radiation dose records are kept for RN radiation workers, and statistics of doses received were published in the replies I gave to the hon. Member for St. Helens, North (Mr. Evans) on 20 March at columns 477-8 and on 2 May at columns 61-2 this year. Regular radiation surveys are carried out on board nuclear-powered submarines to ensure that personnel not designated as radiation workers do not receive any significant radiation doses.

Lance Missiles

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation first deployed the short-range nuclear Lance MGM-52C missile in West Germany.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : NATO first deployed the Lance missile system in West Germany in 1972.

Plessey Takeover

Mr. Churchill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how he proposes to ensure continued competition for defence-related research and development work between the wholly-owned laboratories of GEC and those in which they will have a 50 per cent. share following the acquisition of the Plessey Company by GEC Siemens.

Mr. Sainsbury : If the merger were to proceed, the Ministry of Defence would expect to retain competition


Column 231

for research contracts and would involve GEC, GEC/Siemens and other companies, whenever it was appropriate.

Mr. Churchill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures are being taken by his Department to safeguard the national interest in the event that, following their acquisition of the company, GEC and Siemens will jointly own Plessey's research and technology facilities.

Mr. Sainsbury : The Monopolies and Mergers Commission report accepted that if the merger were to go ahead it would be necessary for GEC and Siemens to give certain undertakings to meet the requirements of national security. These are currently under negotiation. Because of their nature, they were not made public in the MMC report and I cannot elaborate further.

Mr. Thorne : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he proposes to ensure that competition continues for the supply to the United Kingdom of the JTIDs system in the event that GEC and Siemens succeed in acquiring the Plessey Company.

Mr. Sainsbury : The Monopolies and Mergers Commission recommended that GEC and Siemens should undertake to ensure that access to the technology and the licences for production of JTIDS equipment be available on terms satisfactory to the MOD, to competing companies designated by the MOD. Negotiations are continuing to secure such an undertaking.

Mr. Thorne : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he proposes to ensure that national security is safeguarded when JTIDS information is more widely disseminated in order to maintain competition for the supply of the system to the United Kingdom.

Mr. Sainsbury : There are well established procedures for safeguarding national security when sensitive classified information is released to companies. These procedures will, of course, apply in this case.

Mr. Thorne : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what safeguards are being sought from GEC for the supply to the United Kingdom of the JTIDS system in the event that GEC and Siemens succeed in acquiring the Plessey Company ;

(2) what safeguards are being sought from GEC/Siemens for the supply to the United Kingdom of the JTIDS system in the event that GEC and Siemens succeed in acquiring the Plessey Company ; (3) what safeguards are being sought from Siemens for the supply to the United Kingdom of the JTIDS system in the event that GEC and Siemens succeed in acquiring the Plessey Company.

Mr. Sainsbury : The Monopolies and Mergers Commission recommended that GEC and Siemens should undertake to ensure that access to the technology and the licences for production of JTIDS equipment be made available on terms acceptable to the MOD. An undertaking is being sought from GEC and Siemens to this end. Negotiations are continuing and it would be inappropriate to comment further.

Bristol Channel (Survey)

Mr. Stern : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the hydrographic surveys of the outer Bristol channel between Ilfracombe and the Gower peninsula


Column 232

were carried out ; whether those surveys showed changes in sedimentation patterns in the estuary since the previous surveys of 1965 to 1972 ; what hydrographic surveys were conducted in 1988 ; what hydrographic surveys are being conducted in 1989 ; and when it is intended that the inner Bristol channel should be re-surveyed.

Mr. Sainsbury : The latest hydrographic survey of the area between the Gower peninsula and Ilfracombe was carried out between September 1987 and June 1988 by HMS Beagle. This survey did not show any major change in the general form of the seabed since the previous survey, which dates mainly from 1949.

No additional survey was conducted in this area in 1988. In 1989 work is in hand to survey the area between Port Talbot and Porthcawl by HMS Fawn. In addition, a contract has been placed by the Ministry of Defence for a further survey of an area along the southern coast of the Bristol channel from Lynmouth to Watchet and thence extending northeastward to the approaches to Cardiff and Newport. This work will complete the re-survey of the Bristol channel from the Gower peninsula to Newport with the exception of a small area in the approaches to Bridgwater. The remaining areas of the Bristol Channel are the responsibility of the port authorities of Bridgwater, Bristol, Cardiff and Newport.

Tornado Aircraft

Mr. Stern : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the extent to which the effectiveness of the Tornado in European defence is enhanced by its nuclear weapons capability.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : Dual-capable Tornado aircraft constitute a vital component in NATO's theatre nuclear force posture in Europe.

Armed Forces Personnel (Other Paid Employment)

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his policy towards serving members of the armed forces also being engaged in other paid employment.

Mr. Neubert : In accordance with Queen's Regulations a member of the regular forces may not, without Ministry of Defence approval, accept any continuous employment of profit during his full-time service. This includes carrying on a profession, engaging in trade or acceptance of any form of profitable employment with a corporation, company, partnership etc. Subject to certain conditions and the approval of his commanding officer, a member of the regular forces may accept temporary employment during normal leave or part-time employment during off-duty hours.

Nuclear Weapons

Mr. Speller : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list those countries in addition to the United States of America, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, China, France and the United Kingdom which he assesses as having a nuclear weapon capacity, a ballistic weapons delivery capacity or both nuclear capacity and ballistic delivery capacity.

Mr. Waldegrave : I have been asked to reply.


Column 233

No other country has declared itself to have a nuclear weapon capacity, although certain other countries may have the technological capability to produce nuclear weapons. We strongly support the principle of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and as a depositary power, we work actively for the widest adherence to the nuclear non- proliferation treaty. It is not possible to draw up a precise list of countries possessing a ballistic weapon delivery capacity, since different weapons programmes are at different stages. However, the spread of ballistic missiles is a subject of increasing concern. The problem is widespread and as a founder member of the missile technology control regime (MTCR) the United Kingdom urges all countries to adopt the guidelines formulated by the seven governments to control the transfer of equipment and technology which could make a contribution to any missile system capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.


 

  Home Page