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Mr. Gummer : As my right hon. Friend announced on 20 July, the Government have decided to retain the basic elements of the existing potato marketing scheme in view of the need to maintain stability. However consumers and other non-producer interests should be given greater influence in the Potato Marketing Board's market management decisions.
Mr. Gummer : New food legislation to be introduced as soon as the parliamentary timetable permits will include powers to introduce a full licensing system, under central Government control, for the irradiation of foodstuffs.
Mr. Maclean : My Department has received representations from interested trade and consumer organisations on several aspects of food irradiation. A major concern is that consumers should be in a position to make an informed choice, and we intend to ensure this by instituting an effective system of controls which includes full and clear labelling.
Mr. Maclean : Support has been publicly expressed by the Food and Drink Federation, the Spice Trade Association and the Institute of Cereals Manufacturers. In addition, a number of consumer groups have recognised that, with proper controls, this technology has potential benefits for consumers.
environmentally sensitive areas.
Mr. Maclean : Having designated 19 ESAs in the United Kingdom there is now a need to examine their impact and value for money. The scheme is to be reviewed in 1991 and future policy will depend on the outcome of this review.
13. Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, what recent representations he has received regarding the introduction of a decommissioning scheme for fishing vessels ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Michie : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) on Tuesday, 11 July, Official Report, column 453, he is able to estimate the number of vessels which will be taken from the United Kingdom fishing fleet in each of the years 1989, 1990 and 1991 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Curry : No. The target reductions for multi-annual guidance programme purposes are expressed only in terms of tonnage and engine power. The number of vessels withdrawn will depend on action taken to reduce fleet capacity following our consultations with industry organisations.
Mr. Gummer : The Council agreed in January on the main lines of a Community scheme for direct income aid. A regulation came into effect on 1 April establishing a framework under which member states may draw up plans to pay transitional aid to farms affected by the reform of the CAP. Proposals for detailed implementing regulations are now under discussion and need to be agreed before member states may submit new schemes, as required, for approval by the Commission. I have no plans at present to introduce an income aid scheme.
22. Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received seeking the introduction of a scheme of food labelling designed to inform consumers of food organically produced or reared and slaughtered under humane conditions.
Mr. Maclean : Initiatives taken within my Department led to the establishment in 1987 of the United Kingdom Register of Organic Food Standards (UKROFS) which, on 2 May, launched detailed production and processing standards, a certification and inspection scheme and a UKROFS symbol and approved labelling to enable consumers to identify organic foods produced according to the standards. I hope that producers will take full advantage of this exciting development so that a much larger share of the rapidly growing consumer demand for such produce is met by home production.
24. Mr. Janman : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether farming and environmental organisations received copies of his Department's consultation document on nitrate-sensitive areas.
Mr. Curry : Yes. My Department's consultation document on the nitrate-sensitive areas scheme was circulated to a wide range of interests including farming organisations, the Government's conservation agencies and other environmental bodies.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his estimate of the annual cost to the European Economic Community budget of growing a representative 500 acres of wheat in Norfolk in (i) 1988 and (ii) in the current financial year.
Mr. Curry : Information is not available in the form requested. However, an indication of the average cost of supporting 500 acres of cereals anywhere in the Community can be worked out by dividing the sums in the cereals chapter of the guarantee section of the European agricultural guidance and guarantee fund for 1988 and 1989 by the total cereals area of the Community in 1987-88 and 1988-89 respectively. This gives figures of some £16,800 and some £15,100 for 500 acres of cereals in 1988 and 1989 respectively.
Mr. John Greenway : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many farmers claimed in the last cereals year under the small cereals producers aid scheme for a co-responsibility rebate.
Mr. Curry : The present deadline for claims under the small cereals producer aid scheme is 31 July. We do not as yet have a final figure for claims submitted but all the signs are that the figure will be disappointingly low. I am therefore extending the deadline for claims to 30 September so that producers have the maximum opportunity to apply under this scheme.
31. Mr. Archer : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has recently discussed with representatives of other EEC countries the consequences for the single market arising from the continued refusal of the Community to recognise the qualification of environmental health inspectors in connection with the inspection of meat.
Mr. Curry : My Department commissions research amounting to £16.8 million to support statutory obligations, policy development, the protection of consumers and work specifically directed to the improvement of competitiveness in the food industry. Support for work of direct commercial benefit to the industry will be phased out by the end of 1990-91 as a part of the Government's policy on near market research. This will not affect our commitment to food safety and other work on wider public benefit.
A recent joint MAFF/DTI initiative on food processing sciences was announced in September 1988 as part of the LINK Scheme. £7 million has been allocated by MAFF and by DTI over a five-year period provided that this sum is matched by industrial contributions. This programme will concentrate on projects which will strengthen the industry's technical base in bioscience and encourage strategic developments in new processes, biotechnology and processing modelling and control.
33. Mr. Riddick : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has received a copy of the recent London Food Commission report on the fruit juice content of some soft drinks ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 952circulated for public comment draft proposals for the revision of the Soft Drink Regulations 1964 which, inter alia would introduce a requirement for the declaration of fruit juice content on the labels of fruit juice based drinks.
Mr. Maclean : Over the first five months of 1989, exports of food, feed and other agricultural products reached a record for the period of £1,978 million. This was 19.5 per cent. higher than the same periods of 1988 and 1987 respectively. It should be noted that exports of some basic agricultural products, such as grain, livestock and lightly processed foods, can vary considerably from year to year. But apart from this, exports of more processed food manufactured in the United Kingdom have been growing steadily for a number of years.
38. Mr. Dunnachie : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will next attend a meeting of the European Community Council of Fisheries Ministers ; and what he expects to discuss.
40. Mr. Hanley : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has received representations calling for the registration of food establishments as part of the forthcoming Food Bill.
Mr. Maclean : This is one of the issues on which the Government have been holding extensive consultations as part of our proposed reform of food legislation. We have received a number of representations.
42. Mr. Patrick Thompson : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to ensure that the public have adequate food supplies during the dockers' strike ; and if he will make a statement.
I am confident that food supplies will not be seriously affected.
41. Mr. Butler To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he proposes to take any further steps to combat fraud in the common agricultural policy ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer : We have taken the initiative in the Council of Ministers on many occasions to press for further action to deal with fraud in the common agricultural policy and valuable progress is being made. The Commission has recently presented to the Council proposals to require member states to carry out an annual physical check on intervention stocks and a minimum level of inspections of export refunds, and to tighten up the system of audit checks on firms making or receiving CAP payments. I will continue to press the Council to take speedy action on these proposals.
43. Sir Hal Miller : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his latest estimate of the effect in the current year of the common agricultural policy reforms on intervention stores ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer : The process of CAP reform has contributed to substantial reductions in intervention stock levels. The latest estimates of stocks held in public stores show that since the beginning of this year stocks of the major commodities have been reduced as follows :
Commodity Reduction in stocks Reduction as a ('000 tonnes) percentage of stocks at 31 December 1988 |EC |United Kingdom|EC |United Kingdom |Per cent. |Per cent. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Beef |59 |7 |15 |28 Olive oil |105 |- |30 |- Total cereals |1,647 |582 |18 |48 Butter |57 |12 |56 |50 Skimmed milk powder |0 |<1>- |0 |<2>- <1> Less than 500 tonnes. <2> United Kingdom SMP stocks at 31 December 1988 were negligible.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, further to his reply dated 25 May, Official Report, column 744, concerning the common agricultural policy, he will explain the reasons for the increase in expenditure in 1988 of over 20 per cent. ; and whether this was anticipated at the time of the Fontainebleau agreement.
Mr. Curry : As explained in my previous reply, the 1987 budget year carried only 10 months' expenditure. Because of the change to a system of delayed advances for funding from the guarantee section of the European agricultural guidance and guarantee fund, 4,534 mecu (£3,261 million) of expenditure in November and December 1987 were charged to the 1988 budget. Total CAP expenditure for the 1987 calendar year was therefore 28,497 mecu (£20,418 million)--2 per cent. less in real terms than the expenditure
Column 954charged to the 1988 budget. It is not possible to compare expenditure in calendar year 1987 with that in calendar year 1988.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) whether he will publish in the Official Report a table on the same basis as that given in the answer of 4 December 1984, Official Report , columns 105-116 , showing for each of the commodities covered by the common agricultural policy (a) the amount currently in surplus, (b) the target/threshold/intervention price in the United Kingdom, (c) the corresponding price in West Germany, (d) the corresponding central price for the European Economic Community, (e) the levy in the United Kingdom at the latest available date, (f) the world price and (g) the amount sold to third markets with financal assistance from the European Economic Community ;
(2) whether he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the tonnage of each agricultural product exported to non-European Economic Community countries under the common agricultural policy and the cost to the European Economic Community in each case ; and if he will revise as necessary the figures given in his written answer of 28 April, Official Report , columns 315-16 ;
(3) whether he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the estimated amount of each common agricultural policy product consumed in the United Kingdom in 1988, the height of the tariff or guaranteed threshold minimum price, the amount of the levy paid at the latest available date and the corresponding world price.
Mr. Gummer : Information on surplus production, as measured by self- sufficiency, is contained in the Commission's publication "The Agricultural Situation in the Community, 1988 Report", in particular, table 3.7.3. Details of institutional prices (in ecu and £ sterling) are contained in annex 1 of the note on the common agricultural policy price settlement 1989-90, deposited in the Library of the House on 17 May 1989. The prices applicable in Germany can be derived from the ecu prices using the green rates as follows :
Cereals--2.37360, other crops and sheepmeat--2.36110 ; other animal products--2.35053.
The import levies and threshold prices applicable in the United Kingdom on 21 July 1989 and the corresponding "world" prices are shown in table 1. I remind the hon. Member that the world prices shown are generally the lowest offer prices at the Community frontier which underlie the Commission's calculation of the variable import levies. These prices are the lowest recorded and it is likely that, on average, higher prices would have to be paid if larger quantities were to be purchased on world markets or if supplies to world markets diminished. Information on the consumption of agricultural products in the United Kingdom, as measured by "total domestic uses", is contained in "Agriculture in the United Kingdom, 1988". I must caution strongly against drawing conclusions from this particular array of data requested.
Details of exports sold to third countries with financial assistance from the European Community are not available. Total exports from the Community in 1988 of selected commodities are shown in table 2 ; these will include some products exported without financial
Column 955assistance. An analysis of expenditure on export refunds by product in 1988 is set out in annex 2 of the draft 18th financial report for EAGGF guarantee section.
Column 956Copies of the documents referred to are in the Library of the House.
Table 1 Levy applicable in the United Kingdom, threshold price and notional "World" price on 21 July 1989 for main food items covered by the common agricultural policy |Threshold equivalent |Levy applicable in United|Notional "World" price<3> |price<1> |Kingdom<2> |(£ tonne) |(£ tonne) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Common Wheat |166 |72 |99 Barley |151 |72 |83 Maize |165 |94 |76 Sugar (White) |456 |<4>165 |300 Butter (82 per cent. fat) |2,428 |<5>1,448 |1,021 Cheese (Cheddar) |2,514 |1,691 |880 Skimmed Milk Powder |1,406 |476 |959 Beef and Veal |2,781 |<6>1,701 |1,209 Pigmeat |1,519 |383 |905 Sheepmeat |2,403 |<7> |<8> Poultrymeat |1,049 |246 |864 Eggs |855 |156 |472 Notes: All figures have been rounded to nearest £. <1>For commodities for which there is no threshold price the following have been used: beef and veal-guide price converted to deadweight (using a killing out percentage of 53.8 per cent.); pigmeat-basic price; poultrymeat and eggs-sluicegate prices plus basic levy; sheepmeat-seasonalised basic price adjusted for stabiliser. All conversions at green rate. <2>Levy is net of monetary compensatory amounts. Rates of levy vary for different tariff headings. The rates quoted are: beef and veal and pigmeat-carcase; poultrymeat-70 per cent. chickens; eggs-in shell. <3>Notional "World" prices have been calculated by subtracting the levy applicable from the "threshold" price. The beef price is also adjusted for duty. For pigmeat, poultrymeat and eggs the "World" price has been taken as the sluicegate price, less supplementary levy, where appropriate. The resulting estimate has been converted from ecu/t at the agricultural market rate of exchange: £0.762070=1 ecu on 21 July 1989. <4>In practice the United Kingdom's imports from third countries are normally covered by the Lome convention and enter the Community levy-free. <5>A special lower rate of levy is applicable to imports of butter from New Zealand. <6>Most imports of beef from third countries are subject to special arrangements allowing entry at reduced levy rate. <7>Imports of lamb under voluntary restraint arrangements with principal suppliers and related agreements are subject to a reduced charge of 10 per cent. ad valorem. Any imports outside these arrangements are subject to levies which cannot exceed the 20 per cent. tariff bound in the GATT. <8>No appropriate "World" price is available.
Exports from the European Community<1> of selected CAP commodities to non-EC countries: 1988 |'000s tonnes ------------------------------------------------ Wheat |12,387 Wheat flour |2,562 Barley |6,434 Malt |1,031 Rice |332 Sugar<2> of which: |4,535 Raw (white equivalent) |24 Refined |4,511 Olive oil |144 Oilseeds |116 Whole milk powder |343 Skimmed milk powder |607 Condensed milk |383 Butter and Buttermilk |620 Beef and veal |615 Sheepmeat |6 Pigmeat |296 Poultrymeat |389 Eggs |82 Wine<3> |1,211 Source: EUROSTAT. <1>Excludes figures for Greece from August 1988. <2>Includes raw sugar converted to refined sugar equivalent: 1 tonne raw sugar=0.92 tonne refined sugar. <3>The figure previously shown for 1985 has been revised to 1,095 thousand tonnes.
44. Mr. Derek Conway : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what income farmers have received from the 1988 oilseed rape crop ; and if he will make a statement on the implications of the current prevailing price.
Mr. Curry : The value of oilseed rape output in the United Kingdom in 1988 is estimated at £242 million. Information on the income which farmers obtained from this crop is not available. The 1989 United Kingdom crop, like that in other member states, is expected to be smaller than the 1988 crop because of a smaller planted area. As a result, market prices are currently higher than at the same time last year.
45. Mr. Rogers : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will implement the recommendation of the Farm Animal Welfare Council that intrajugular meat tenderising injections be prohibited.
Mr. Curry : I have no such proposals. The various nephrops stocks around the United Kingdom are either not subject to quota or where they are the quotas have been generally under utilised. We will, however, continue to monitor these stocks closely.
Mr. Gummer : I propose shortly to make some minor amendments to the Anthrax Order 1938 to allow an inspector of the Minister (as well as an inspector of a local authority) to serve a form A, declaring an infected place.
There are no plans for any further changes.
49. Mr. Cryer : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many farmers are in receipt of both payments from the intervention board for growing cereals and payments for subsequently storing such food ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Curry : The intervention board contracts storage space for intervention cereals with storekeepers who have suitable premises and the necessary expertise. Records are not maintained to show whether any of the companies offer into intervention grain which they have grown themselves but the intervention board's policy is not to accept offers of grain for storage in the stores in which it is held at the time of offer. Nor would a company's offer of grain be allocated for storage in one of its own stores.