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Mr. Gummer : My right hon. Friend the Minister and my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are considering with colleagues the intervention board's proposals to locate part of its work away from the south-east of England. An announcement will be made as soon as possible.

Cricket Bats

Mr. Allen : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent developments have taken place in tackling water mark disease and its effects on cricket bat production.

Mr. Maclean : A cricket bat willow research group was established on 3 May. This includes representatives of the growers, merchants and manufacturers, as well as representatives from the university of East Anglia, Essex county council and the Forestry Commission. The group has agreed that a voluntary levy should be raised on the sale of cricket bat clefts to fund research into methods of controlling watermark disease and to contribute to expenditure on inspection services.


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Research

Mr. Bellingham : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he next plans to meet the President of the National Farmers Union to discuss agricultural research.

Mr. Gummer : I have already spoken to the President of the National Farmers Union and have arranged to meet him when no doubt we will have a wide-ranging discussion.

Whisky

Mr. Sillars : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will show the export earnings value of the Scottish whisky industry in each year since 1975.

Mr. Curry : The value of United Kingdom exports of whisky from 1975 is shown in the table. The figures include some small amounts of whiskey bourbon.


Year      |£ million          

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

1975      |366.6              

1976      |439.7              

1977      |512.6              

1978      |662.8              

1979      |709.7              

1980      |747.5              

1981      |787.2              

1982      |875.4              

1983      |863.9              

1984      |937.3              

1985      |1,001.0            

1986      |1,075.3            

1987      |1,142.4            

1988      |1,297.6            

Source: Overseas Trade        

Statistics (Her Majesty's     

Stationery Office)            

Radioactivity

Mr. Frank Cook : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the total quantity of radioactivity in the soil, food chains and water systems in the United Kingdom attributable to (a) fallout from Chernobyl (b) United Kingdom military nuclear bases and (c) the United Kingdom civil nuclear facilities, and what steps he is taking to clean up the United Kingdom environment from radioactive pollution arising from human activities.

Mr. Maclean : My Department has responsibilities for the food chain and the aquatic environment. The Department of the Environment has responsibilities for the soil and drinking water.

It is not possible easily to assess separately the contribution of background activity and that attributable to other sources. However, the general overall picture is as follows :

(a) The contribution from the 1986 Chernobyl accident was greatest in the north and west of the country where high rainfall coincided with the passage of the radioactive plume with a result that total radiocaesium levels in the soil from all sources were in the region of 30,000Bq/m in parts of Cumbria.

(b) (c) UK military and civil nuclear facilities have made a negligible contribution to radio activity levels in the soil with the exception of the 1957 fire at Windscale which led to a significant increase in levels in Cumbria.


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Details of radioactivity levels in the food chain and in surface and coastal waters around major nuclear installations can be found in my Department's terrestrial radioactivity monitoring programme and aquatic monitoring reports (copies in the Library of the House). The results of my Department's monitoring of foodstuffs following the Chernobyl accident have also been published regularly and copies placed in the library of the House.

With the exception of certain areas of the United Kingdom where sheep are still subject to post-Chernobyl movement and slaughter controls, radioactivity levels in the food chain throughout the United Kingdom do not require any remedial action. In the areas where sheep are under control my Department is actively investigating ways of reducing radiocaesium availability and uptake by grazing animals.

Radioactive Waste

Mr. Frank Cook : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what quantities of radioactive wastes will arise annually from the disposal of the radiation


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sources for food irradiation ; what plans there are for their disposal ; and if he expects any radioactive waste presently stored in the United Kingdom to be used as sources for food irradiation.

Mr. Maclean : No radioactive wastes will arise from the sources used to irradiate food. When the source has decayed beyond its useful life, it will be returned to the supplier for regeneration. I do not expect any radioactive waste to be used as a source for this process.

Bread and Wheat Prices

Mr. Ralph Howell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will express the figures on the price of bread and wheat given in his answer of 3 May, Official Report , columns 124-26 , with (a) 1979=100 and (b) 1984=100.

Mr. Curry : The figures requested are as follows :


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Year       Average price of                                            Weighted average price                                               

           standard white wrapped                                      of United Kingdom wheat                                              

           and sliced loaf (800g)                                      at point of sale<1>                                                  

           Actual price                  1979 price<2>                 Actual price                  1979 price<2>                          

           Indices                       Indices                       Indices                       Indices                                

          |p/loaf   |1979=100 |1984=100 |p/loaf   |1979=100 |1984=100 |£/tonne  |1979=100 |1984=100 |£/tonne  |1979=100 |1984=100           

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

1979      |29.3     |100      |76       |29.3     |100      |120      |95.92    |100      |84       |95.92    |100      |132                

1980      |33.7     |115      |88       |28.2     |96       |116      |99.30    |104      |87       |82.96    |86       |114                

1981      |36.3     |124      |94       |27.2     |93       |111      |108.92   |114      |95       |81.65    |85       |113                

1982      |37.1     |127      |96       |25.8     |88       |106      |113.74   |119      |99       |79.21    |83       |109                

1983      |37.6     |128      |98       |24.9     |85       |102      |124.80   |130      |109      |82.70    |86       |114                

1984      |38.5     |131      |100      |24.4     |83       |100      |114.59   |119      |100      |72.57    |76       |100                

1985      |40.2     |137      |104      |24.1     |82       |99       |112.25   |117      |98       |67.26    |70       |93                 

1986      |43.0     |147      |112      |24.9     |85       |102      |111.18   |116      |97       |64.34    |67       |89                 

1987      |43.7     |149      |114      |24.1     |82       |99       |111.00   |116      |97       |61.33    |64       |85                 

1988      |46.3     |158      |120      |24.0     |82       |98       |<3>104.83|109      |91       |54.32    |57       |75                 

1989<4>   |49.1     |168      |128      |-        |-        |-        |-        |-        |-        |-        |-        |-                  

Source:                                                                                                                                     

Bread prices: Employment Gazette.                                                                                                           

Wheat prices: Annual Review of Agriculture; Agriculture in the United Kingdom 1988.                                                         

<1> The wheat prices quoted are net of co-responsibility levies.                                                                            

<2> Using the GDP deflator (at market prices).                                                                                              

<3> Forecast.                                                                                                                               

<4> January to June inclusive.                                                                                                              

Pesticides

Sir Richard Body : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many applications for the approval of a pesticide have been made in each of the last six years ; and how many of these applications have been refused.

Mr. Maclean : The number of applications for pesticides approval received each year since the introduction of the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 is as follows :


               |1987          |1988          |1989 (to date)               

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

Received       |1,024         |1,324         |837                          

of which:                                                                  

Rejected       |283           |347           |324                          

Refused        |N/A           |N/A           |84                           

The figures distinguish between those applications which are initially rejected without evaluation due to insufficient supporting data and those refused approval following evaluation.


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Synthetic Chemicals

Sir Richard Body : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what consultations have taken place between his Department and the European Economic Community Commission about its draft proposals on the production and marketing of agricultural products and foodstuffs obtained without the use of synthetic chemicals ; and what United Kingdom bodies he intends to consult when such proposals are submitted to the European Economic Community Council.

Mr. Maclean : Since 1987 my officials have attended five meetings in Brussels with representatives of the Commission of the European Community and other member states held to discuss a succession of draft proposals put forward by the Commission on the production and marketing of organic foods. On a further occasion in October 1988 my officials hosted a meeting in London, attended by a representative of the Commission and by the Chairman of the United Kingdom Register or Organic Food Standards (UKROFS), in order to explain to the Commission progress towards establishing


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UKROFS standards. After the UKROFS standards were announced on 2 May 1989 copies were sent by my officials to the Commission. Once the Commission's own proposals are submitted to the Council of Ministers it is my intention that, so far as is practical, there shall be detailed consultations with the UKROFS board and with a wide range of bodies representing the producers, processors, manufacturers, retailers and consumers of organic foods.

Food Safety

16. Mr. Andrew Smith : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a further statement on food safety.

Mr. Gummer : I shall be making a full statement this afternoon.

Liscombe Experimental Husbandry Farm

23. Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether the agricultural industry has shown itself willing to finance near-market research work at the Liscombe experimental husbandry farm.

Mr. Gummer : Yes. As explained in a reply on 10 July to my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Boswell), a local industry consortium has secured a significant level of commitments to fund a programme of near- market research and development at Liscombe experimental husbandry farm.

Zoonoses Regulations

Mrs. Gorman : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the average cost per test of applying the zoonoses regulations to egg laying flocks and broiler chicken flocks.

Mr. Curry : The Testing of Poultry Flocks Order 1989 requires rearing, laying, and breeding flocks to be monitored for evidence of salmonella. Cloacal swabs are taken from laying birds and tested at intervals from point of lay to slaughter (22 to 70 weeks of age) and dead birds are examined between 26 and 30 weeks of age.

Many laboratories in both the public and private sectors carry out these tests and average cost figures are not available. The Government's veterinary investigations centres would expect to charge £109 per house for this range of tests on laying birds required under the order.

Statutory Instruments

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, for each of the last five parliamentary sessions, including the 1988- 89 session, if he will list the number of statutory instruments that were issued by his Department; how many were negative and how many affirmative; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Curry : Records of statutory instruments issued by the Ministry are held by calendar year. The details are as follows :


                 |Affirmative     |Negative        |Made and Operate                 

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

<1>1989          |7               |31              |11                               

1988             |11              |62              |17                               

1987             |14              |73              |25                               

1986             |12              |88              |18                               

1985             |8               |59              |22                               

<1> To date.                                                                         

Farm Woodland Scheme

Mr. Gwilym Jones : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether the farm woodland scheme has encouraged the planting of broadleaved trees.

Mr. Gummer : Yes. Planting proposals received to date show that an average 75 per cent. of the area to be planted under this scheme will be with broadleaved trees.

Fish Landings

Dr. Godman : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list in the Official Report the weight and value of landings of fish in England and Wales in each of the past ten years ; and what proportion they represent of the total United Kingdom figures for those years.

Mr. Curry [holding answer 26 July 1989] : The information requested is as follows :


Total weight and value of fish (including shellfish) landed into                                                              

England and Wales, by British and foreign vessels, for the years                                                              

1979 to 1988                                                                                                                  

Year                 |Quantity            |Percentage of United|Value               |Percentage of United                     

                                          |Kingdom                                  |Kingdom                                  

                     |(tonnes)                                 |(£000)                                                        

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

1979                 |556,070             |60                  |165,179             |56                                       

1980                 |471,596             |55                  |139,617             |54                                       

1981                 |339,956             |42                  |119,512             |47                                       

1982                 |305,601             |36                  |129,754             |45                                       

1983                 |283,573             |34                  |125,654             |41                                       

1984                 |208,237             |26                  |117,750             |36                                       

1985                 |180,685             |22                  |123,857             |35                                       

1986                 |172,317             |22                  |137,561             |35                                       

1987                 |217,845             |26                  |169,478             |37                                       

1988                 |188,378             |24                  |157,939             |37                                       

Source: Sea Fisheries Statistical Tables.                                                                                     

Her Majesty's Stationery Office Annual Publications.                                                                          

Shell Fish

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food under what control powers he ensures that the siting of shell fish farms causes minimal disturbance to ecologically important areas ; whether he intends to seek to introduce new controls ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gummer [holding answer 25 July 1989] : My Department exercises no specific powers in relation to the siting of shell fish farms, though all such businesses must register with the appropriate fisheries department under the terms of the Registration of Fish Farming and Shellfish Farming Businesses Order 1985. However, shell fish farms are subject to a range of statutory controls including those relating to sites of special scientific interest notified under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Moreover, all such operations must first obtain the consent of the owner of the seabed, normally the Crown Estates Commissioners. There are no plans to change the present arrangements.

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) to what extent he takes account of


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a possible breach of section 14(1)(a) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 when granting a licence for alien shell fish cultivation ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) under what circumstances he licenses the cultivation of alien shell fish in British waters ; and if he will make a statement ; (3) under what powers he can prevent the release of alien shell fish into the wider marine environment ; and if he will make a statement ;

(4) what monitoring and assessment he is making of the environmental impact of shell fish farming of alien species ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gummer [holding answers 25 and 26 July 1989] : Section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 makes it an offence to release or allow to escape into the wild any animal of a kind which is not ordinarily resident in and is not a regular visitor to Great Britain in a wild state ; or which is included in part I of schedule 9. However, introductions into the wild may be authorised by a licence granted under section 16 of the Act and after consultation with the Nature Conservancy Council. Such licences may be general or specific and subject to appropriate conditions. Presently general licences permit releases of Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) and Portuguese oysters (Crassostrea angulata). The release of any other species of alien shell fish would require a specific licence. Moreover, all deposits of molluscan shell fish whether native or non-native, are subject to licensing under the Molluscan Shellfish (Control of Deposit) Order 1974, as varied.

The suitability of alien shell fish for cultivation in our waters is thoroughly investigated by my fisheries scentists, who take account of the scope for natural recruitment and potential ecological impact. In addition, appropriate steps are taken to ensure that any imported broodstock are free from alien shell fish parasites or disease. There is no evidence of natural recruitment or ecological harm having arisen from the cultivation of Pacific or Portuguese oysters.

Small Businesses

Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the achievements of his Department and his policies in helping small businesses over the last 12 months compared with the previous 12 months ; and if he will publish the performance indicators by which his Department monitors those achievements and the statistical results of such monitoring.

Mr. Gummer [holding answer 24 July 1989] : The Government's general policy towards small businesses is to create a climate in which they can flourish and to provide measures that support and help stimulate their development.


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My Department has contributed significantly to this process. We have consistently worked for a more market-orientated common agricultural policy. Our success in this area has been of benefit to both large and small businesses in the agricultural industry. Important reforms of the CAP were brought into effect in 1988-89. Agricultural spending has been brought under control and surpluses have been greatly reduced. These achievements have helped to create a much more secure framework within which farmers can make their business decisions. They have also fostered a competitive and efficient industry, well placed to benefit from the opportunities which the completion of the single internal market will bring. We have sought to enable farmers to benefit from the economic climate that this Government have created. We have encouraged farmers--in particular those with smaller businesses which may not be viable on the basis of agriculture alone--to look carefully at their assets so as to identify all possible opportunities for generating income ; and we have introduced a range of income-generating schemes, designed to encourage farmers to seek alternative sources of income without creating surpluses. Within the last 12 months we have introduced the farm woodland scheme, set- aside, the farm and conservation grant scheme, and feasibility and marketing grants under the farm diversification grant scheme. We have also expanded our efforts on existing schemes, such as environmentally sensitive areas. These measures not only help the individual participants, but bring environmental and other benefits, contributing significantly to the viability and vitality of the rural economy as a whole.

All the schemes operated by my Department are closely monitored. Reports on particular schemes are published from time to time.

Pigs

Mr. Shersby : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what decision he has reached concerning the authorisation of a system of cheque book licensing for swill pig feeders to facilitate easier transportation of pigs to the abattoir following representations made to him by a delegation of swill pig feeders from Harefield led by the hon. Member for Uxbridge.

Mr. Curry : I intend to review the legislation which governs the movement of pigs within Great Britain as soon as our current programme of more pressing legislative changes permits. My specific aim will be to relax the licensing requirement of the movement of swill-fed pigs to slaughterhouses--if the review indicates that this is desirable.


 

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