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Eggs

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what action he has taken concerning imports of contaminated eggs from other European Community countries ; and what evidence he has that other national governments are taking any steps to prevent such exports or to apply standards similar to those which have been imposed in the United Kingdom ;

(2) what proportion of eggs imported into the United Kingdom are tested for salmonella and other forms of contamination ; how many incidents of such contamination have been verified during the last 12 months ; and how many consignments found to contain such contaminated eggs have been disposed of.

Mr. Curry : Arrangements have been made for port health authorities and the public health laboratory service to monitor imported eggs for salmonella. This is done by taking a sample of 60 eggs from each consignment, for testing. Since April when these arrangements commenced, six isolations of invasive salmonella have been made from imported eggs. We have, as a matter of the utmost seriousness, taken these up straightaway with the member states concerned.

The aim of the monitoring is to determine the risk of infection that imports pose over a period of time. No consignments of imported eggs have been destroyed.

No other member state is taking such comprehensive action as we are to deal with salmonella contamination in


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eggs although I am aware that the Dutch Government have introduced measures in respect of the presence of Salmonella enteritidis in breeding flocks. For the future, effective safeguards depend on taking action on an EC-wide basis and we are pressing for the introduction of effective EC measures on specified zoonoses as soon as possible.

Correspondence

Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information his Department has on the length of time taken to respond to letters from hon. Members. Mr. Maclean : I refer my hon. Friend to my written answer to him of 31 October 1989.

Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowances

Dr. Cunningham : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what discussions are taking place between his Department and the European Commission about proposals to restrict the current European agricultural guidance and guarantee fund contributions to hill livestock compensatory allowances ; what response has been made by Her Majesty's Government ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Curry : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall South-East (Mr. Hicks) on 30 October 1989.

Beagles (Death)

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he will publish in full the results of his Department's investigation into deaths of 79 beagles in the care of Alpha-Sirius (Perrycroft Lodge Kennels) ;

(2) whether he will initiate a prosecution against Alpha-Sirius (Perrycroft Lodge Kennels) under the Transport of Animals (General) Order 1973 for failing in their duty of care in respect of the deaths of beagles transported to Sweden ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Curry : My Department is investigating this tragic incident with a view to possible prosecutions. We cannot divulge details of the case in advance of any proceedings.

Papain

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he is expecting to announce guidelines on the use of the tenderising agent papain in administration to cattle.

Mr. Curry : I intend to include guidance on the handling of cattle injected with papain in a code of practice on the welfare of livestock at slaughter. I propose to issue the code under new enabling powers which it is proposed to take in primary legislation when parliamentary time permits.

Hens

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the number of hens slaughtered under the provisions of the Testing of Poultry Flocks Order for each month of its operation.


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Mr. Curry : The provisions relating to the compulsory slaughter of poultry are contained in the Animal Health Act 1981, as applied in respect of salmonella through the provisions of the Zoonoses Order 1989. The number of birds compulsorily slaughtered since 1 March 1989 when the order came into force is as follows :


 

                |Numbers        

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

March           |207,379        

April           |95,378         

May             |48,178         

June            |91,941         

July            |47,718         

August          |55,221         

September       |131,379        

October (to 20) |39,141         

Hormone Implants

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many successful prosecutions his Department has initiated following the discovery of cattle with hormone implants.

Mr. Curry : Two farmers have been prosecuted following the discovery of cattle with hormone implants and convictions were achieved in both cases.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the monitoring procedures whereby samples of animals at point of slaughter are taken and tested for hormone implants ; by whom the sampling and testing is carried out ; and what numbers and proportion of animals are tested.

Mr. Curry : Under the terms of the Animals and Fresh Meat (Examination for Residues) Regulations 1988 (S.I. 1988/848) animals are sampled by staff of the state veterinary service for veterinary residues including evidence of illegal hormone implantation. All samples for hormone analysis are forwarded to the Ministry's central veterinary laboratory. Each year some 3,700 samples are collected at slaughterhouses in Great Britain. These comprise about 0.15 per cent. of those fattening bovine animals which are slaughtered and 1,300 samples from cull cows, sheep and pigs.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the most recent figures available on the proportion of cattle sampled which carry traces of hormone implants.

Mr. Curry : In the course of routine monitoring for illegal hormone use a total of 1,296 samples were taken from cattle at

slaughterhouses in Great Britain between January and June of this year. 0.3 per cent. of these were found to be positive.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information he has on the existence of hormone implant stocks in other European Community countries.

Mr. Curry : None. I am not aware that such information is collected.

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps his Department is taking to ensure that live cattle or beef imports have not been subjected to artificial hormone treatment.


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Mr. Curry : Under Community monitoring arrangements (Directive 86/469/EEC) responsibility for hormone testing of cattle and beef entering intra-Community trade rests with the Member State of origin. In the case of supplies from third countries the Community has obtained assurances that production is subject to controls equivalent to those operating in the Community.

Food Advisory Committee

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list those recommendations he has received from the Food Advisory Committee during each of the last three years, and which have not been implemented by his Department.

Mr. Maclean : It is not practical to answer this question in quite the way the hon. Member has asked. The following list represents the committee's published reports over the last three years on which the recommendations have yet to be implemented.

Final Report on the Review of colouring Matter in Food Regulations 1973 published March 1987 (MAFF Press Release No. 83/87). Report on Coated and Ice Glazed Fish Products--published March 1987 (MAFF Press Release No. 58/87).

Caffeine and Saccharin and Soft Drinks--announcement made in May 1988 (MAFF Press Release No. 180/88).

Use of the term "low alcohol" in the labelling of Alcoholic Drinks announced September 1988 (MAFF Press Release No. 358/88). The Use of Mineral Hydrocarbons in Food--published February 1989 (MAFF Press Release No. 53/89).

Slimming pills--announcement made in May 1989 (MAFF Press Release No. 212/89).

Use of Nutrition Claims in Food Labelling and Advertising--published July 1989 (MAFF Press Release No. 309/89).

We have accepted all these reports in principle. We shall shortly be announcing my decision on the recommendations in the Colouring Matter in Food report. On all the other reports we have either published implementing regulations for consultation or are in course of so doing.

Tartrazine and Sunset Yellow

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will refer the additives tartrazine and sunset yellow to the Food Advisory Committee for re-assessment.

Mr. Maclean : These two substances are covered by the recent Food Advisory Committee review on the use of colouring matter in food on which I shall be announcing my decisions shortly. I therefore have no plans to ask the Food Advisory Committee to re-assess them unless or until any new scientific evidence about them becomes available.

Food Premises

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make it his policy to introduce measures in the forthcoming food Bill to provide for a compulsory licensing system for all food premises.

Mr. Maclean : We have already made it clear that the new legislation will provide for the registration of all food premises, for an associated system of improvement notices and for enhanced closure powers. We also envisage making provision for licensing in certain sensitive areas.


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Frozen Food

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he proposes to introduce legislation governing frozen food ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean : I shall need to implement into United Kingdom law the provisions of Council Directive 89/108/EEC on quick frozen foodstuffs for human consumption and the provisions of Council Directive 89/395/EEC on food labelling which includes a requirement for the date marking of frozen foods. I expect to issue separate proposals for regulations under the Food Act 1984 on both these matters early in 1990.

Food Labelling

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he intends introducing legislation to regulate the use of descriptions such as low fat, no added sugar and high in fibre in food labelling.

Mr. Maclean : Yes. The legislation is intended to form part of the regulations to protect consumers from misleading nutrition claims which I announced in reply to my hon. Friend, the Member for Daventry (Mr. Boswell) on 28 July at column 1153.

Meat and Meat Products

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what arrangements exist for the certification of meat and bone meal of ruminant derivation destined for export from the United Kingdom.

Mr. Curry : The Agriculture Departments provide certification for exports of meat and bone meal in accordance with the requirements of individual importing countries. Certificates are signed by officers of the Departments or by authorised local veterinary inspectors.

Livestock Market (Computerisation)

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether his Department has taken any steps to investigate the possibilities of computerising livestock markets.

Mr. Curry : The extent to which any market can or should take account of new technology is a matter for the commercial judgment of its operators.

Pesticides

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what response he has made to the report on pesticide use in the United Kingdom sent to him on 7 August by the Green Alliance and the British Agrochemicals Association.

Mr. Curry : I have replied to these organisations on behalf of all the Ministers responsible for the control of pesticides in a letter dated 26 September 1989. A copy of the letter has been deposited today in the Library of the House.


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NATIONAL FINANCE

Balance of Trade

75. Mr. Clelland : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects British manufacturing trade to be in balance.

89. Mr. Cox : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects British manufacturing trade to be in balance.

90. Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects British manufacturing trade to be in balance.

95. Mr. Sean Hughes : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects British manufacturing trade to be in balance.

Mr. Norman Lamont : The deficit on manufacturing trade reflects the surge in investment and the fall in personal saving in recent years. Tighter monetary policy is already slowing the growth in demand. As new capacity comes on stream, and domestic demand slows further, the deficit will narrow.

76. Mr. Andrew Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate of the total United Kingdom trade deficit for the current year.

82. Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate of the total United Kingdom trade deficit for the current year.

86. Mr. Wallace : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate of the deficit in manufactured trade for 1989-90.

Mr. Norman Lamont : A new forecast will be published at the time of the Autumn Statement.

79. Mr. Parry : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what further policies he has to deal with the trade deficit.

92. Mr. Martlew : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what further policies he has to deal with the trade deficit.

93. Mr. Martyn Jones : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what further policies he has to deal with the trade deficit.

Mr. Norman Lamont : No further policies are necessary. The current account deficit will gradually narrow as the Government's tight monetary policy continues to slow domestic demand.

80. Mr. Canavan : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the latest balance of trade in manufactured goods.

Mr. Norman Lamont : The information was published on 24 October in table 12 of the monthly press notice on the current account of the balance of payments, a copy of which is available in the Library.

85. Mr. Wareing : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he now expects the balance of trade to be in surplus.

Mr. Norman Lamont : Tighter monetary policy is already slowing the growth in demand. As domestic


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demand continues to slow down, and new capacity comes on stream, the deficit on visible trade will gradually narrow.

87. Mr. Wilson : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with which European Community countries Britain is running a trade deficit.

Mr. Norman Lamont : The United Kingdom's balance of trade in the first nine months of 1989 was in deficit with the following European Community member states :

Belgium/Luxembourg

Denmark

Federal Republic of Germany

France

Italy

Netherlands

94. Mr. Orme : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what further policies he has to deal with the trade deficit.

Mr. Major : No further policies are necessary. The current account deficit will gradually narrow as the Government's tight monetary policy continues to slow domestic demand.

Mr. Batiste : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the current balance of trade with (a) Australia and (b) New Zealand.

Mr. Norman Lamont : In the first nine months of 1989 the United Kingdom's crude balance of trade showed a surplus of £550 million with Australia and a deficit of £49 million with New Zealand. These figures are only available on an overseas trade statistics basis which tends to overstate deficits and understate surpluses. Exports free on board (fob) less imports carriage, insurance and freight (cif).

Share Ownership

77. Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of the adult population owns shares (a) directly and (b) as members of pension schemes and life assurance schemes.

Mr. Lilley : Twenty per cent. of the adult population owned shares directly at the beginning of the year. Subsequently the Abbey National flotation will have led to a large number of people becoming shareholders for the first time.

Surveys suggest that around 60 per cent. of the adult population have some form of life assurance policy, 35 per cent. are members of company pension schemes and 13 per cent. have personal pensions.

Manufacturing Output

78. Mr. Butterfill : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total percentage growth in output in manufacturing industry for each of the last two years ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norman Lamont : On the basis of the most recent published figures, manufacturing output grew by 6.8 per cent. between 1987 and 1988, following growth of 5.5 per cent. between 1986 and 1987.


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Balance of Payments

81. Mr. Grocott : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate of the balance of payments deficit for the last full year for which figures are available.

Mr. Norman Lamont : The information was published on 24 October in table 2 of the monthly press notice on the current account of the balance of payments, a copy of which is available in the Library.

Base Rates

83. Mr. Geraint Howells : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the cost to industry of the rise in base rates since April 1988 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norman Lamont : It is not possible to answer this question with any acceptable degree of precision. It would depend on how industry reacted to the interest rate changes themselves and any changes in borrowing for other reasons. The costs to British industry of high inflation are far greater than the costs of higher interest rates. Tight monetary policy will ensure that inflation is brought down.

Investment

84. Mr. Devlin : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make a statement on current investment levels in British industry.

Mr. Norman Lamont : In 1988 business investment grew by 17 per cent. to reach £51.3 billion at 1985 prices. Business investment is now at the highest level ever recorded as a proportion of GDP.

88. Mr. Bowis : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on levels of industrial investment and company profitability.

Mr. Norman Lamont : In 1988 business investment grew by 17 per cent. to reach £51.3 billion at 1985 prices. Business investment is now at the highest level ever recorded as a proportion of GDP. Data for company profitability are available only up to 1987. The net real rate of return on capital employed for non-North-sea industrial and commercial companies rose from 9 per cent. in 1986 to 10 per cent. in 1987, the highest level for over a decade. High levels of investment and company profitability reflect the success of the Government's macroeconomic policy.

96. Mr. Page : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the latest figures for manufacturing investment, and show comparable figures in real terms for a similar period in 1978.

Mr. Norman Lamont : Revised estimates of investment in the second quarter of 1989--the most recent available--were included in the GDP press release issued on 22 September. Manufacturing investment including leased assets, is estimated to have been £3.2 billion (1985 prices, seasonally adjusted) in the second quarter of 1989, compared to £2.7 billion in the second quarter of 1978. The figure for the second quarter of 1989 is the highest


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recorded, and comes after growth of 8 per cent. a year between 1983 and 1988. Under the last Labour Government manufacturing investment grew by less than 2 per cent. a year.


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