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Farm Visits

59. Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he last made an on-farm visit ; and what matters were discussed.

Mr. Gummer : Since my appointment in July, I have made a number of tours in the regions, including on farm visits. During the most recent such visit, on 3 November, a range of countryside matters were discussed, including in particular the maintenance of wildlife habitat.

Animal Products (Licensing)

60. Mr. Rogers : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he intends to consider socio-economic criteria in assessing whether to grant licences to animal products under the Medicines Act 1968.

Mr. Maclean : The purpose of licensing under the Medicines Act is to protect public and animal health and I do not believe that socio-economic or other additional criteria contribute to this purpose.

Pigmeat Prices

61. Mr. David Davis : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what improvements in pigmeat prices his Department has recorded during the last 12 months.

Mr. Curry : Over the past 12 months the monthly average of the all pigs price, as calculated by the Meat and Livestock Commission, has been as follows :




October    |93.07        

November   |97.54        

December   |101.23       



January    |99.08        

February   |100.62       

March      |102.56       

April      |105.83       

May        |109.43       

June       |113.44       

July       |115.85       

August     |116.94       

September  |127.41       

October<1> |133.21       

<1>To week ending 21     

October 1989.            

Fish (Drugs)

62. Mr. Key : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what drugs he has licensed for use with fish in the past 12 months.

Mr. Curry : In the last 12 months licences have been issued for Aquaguard, an ectoparasiticide for use against infestations of sea lice, and for furogen immersion vaccine and furogen injection vaccine for use against certain strains of Aeromonas salmonicida.

Farm and Conservation Grants

64. Mr. Andy Stewart : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what contributions to pollution control have resulted from grants made under the farm and conservation grants scheme.

Mr. Maclean : Under the farm and conservation grant scheme grants of 50 per cent. are available throughout the country for the installation, replacement and improvement of facilities for handling, storing and treating slurry and silage effluent. This is the highest rate of grant available in Europe. It underlines the Government's determination to assist farmers in the vital task of preventing pollution of water courses by farm waste. The industry have reacted very positively and uptake of new grants is high.

Nitrate Fertilisation

67. Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the average level of nitrate fertilisation of United Kingdom farmland for each of the last 10 years.

Mr. Curry : Data in the precise form requested is not available, but average total inorganic nitrogen usage on all crops and grass in England and Wales has been as follows (expressed in kg/ha) :

Year  |kg/ha      


1979  |114        

1980  |120        

1981  |130        

1982  |132        

1983  |139        

1984  |147        

1985  |146        

1986  |146        

1987  |147        

1988  |133        


68. Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's policy towards a continuation after 1990 of the moratorium on commercial whaling.

Column 780

Mr. Curry : We played a leading role within the International Whaling Commission in the achievement of the moratorium on commercial whaling. We have worked hard to ensure that IWC members adhere to it. It is to be reviewed next year on the basis of major scientific work on whale stocks and appropriate management procedures. We shall consider these results very carefully. If we are not satisfied we shall press for the continuation of the moratorium.

Salmon Fishing

70. Mr. French : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what policies his Department is pursuing in order to improve the prospects for the United Kingdom salmon fishing industry.

Mr. Curry : The Government are pursuing a wide range of policies for the conservation and management of salmon stocks which are beneficial to the United Kingdom salmon fishing industry, whether recreational or commercial. In England and Wales, the National Rivers Authority, established in September 1989, has the duty of maintaining, improving and developing salmon fisheries. In Scotland, district salmon fishery boards have similar powers and duties within their district. In Northern Ireland, the Department of Agriculture in conjunction with the Fisheries Conservancy Board and the Foyle Fisheries Commission are responsible for the conservation and protection of salmon.

There are substantial programmes of research and development on salmon which contribute to these aims. Finally, the United Kingdom--through the Commission of the European Communities which is a contracting party--plays an active role in the work of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation.

Food Irradiation

71. Mr. Martyn Jones : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a further statement about his plans for the introduction of food irradiation.

Mr. Maclean : I have nothing to add to my reply given on 27 July to my hon. Friend the Member for Amber Valley (Mr. Oppenheim) at column 947.

Skilled Labour

72. Mr. Barry Porter : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to ensure an improvement in the current shortage of skilled labour within the agriculture industry.

Mr. Curry : It is for the industry to respond to changing circumstances and to assess the levels of skilled labour required to sustain viable enterprises. In so doing full advantage should be taken of the excellent skills training facilities available from the agricultural training board and the agricultural colleges.

Farmland Sales

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his Department's policy towards the practice of dividing farmland in the south of England into small plots and selling them off separately.

Column 781

Mr. Maclean : This is not a matter for Government intervention. Owners have a fundamental right to dispose of their property as they see fit.

Research and Development

Mr. Hunter : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a further statement on his policy regarding research and development in agriculture.

Mr. Curry : I remain firmly committed to supporting work directed at public good issues such as food safety, environmental protection and animal welfare, and to the underpinning of industry's commercial research base through support for far market strategic research.

Monetary Compensatory Amounts

Mr. Gale : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will set out in the Official Report a timetable indicating the anticipated progress, for the various commodities, towards the eventual removal of monetary compensatory amounts arising from green currencies.

Mr. Curry : Following pressure from the United Kingdom Government the Council and the Commission have agreed that monetary gaps, and therefore monetary compensatory amounts, should be removed by the end of 1992. The devaluations that were agreed at the last two price settlements represented steps towards this objective. The Commission is to report shortly on ways of completing the process of dismantlement.


Mr. Flynn : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects to announce guidelines on the administration of the meat tenderising enzyme papain.

Mr. Maclean : I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 1 November to the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) at column 211.

Oilseed Rape

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the presence of pollen and other airborne material derived from flowering crops of oilseed rape giving the concentration in the atmosphere above the crop and the maximum extent of detectable contamination ; and if he will give comparable information for other agricultural crops.

Mr. Curry : My Department has no information on the concentration of airborne material from oilseed rape in the atmosphere above the crop, nor comparable information on other crops. I am aware that some experiments have been carried out by individuals to detect the presence of oilseed rape pollen in the atmosphere in the vicinity of the crop and further afield.

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take any steps to encourage the breeding and production of varieties of oilseed rape which minimise the dispersal of pollen and other airborne material into the atmosphere.

Column 782

Mr. Curry : If it were shown conclusively that existing varieties of oilseed rape caused serious problems for human health we would consider what measures were necessary to tackle the problem. The breeding of varieties with specific properties could be one such measure.

Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many hectares of oilseed rape were harvested in 1989 ; what tonnage was produced ; what was the value of the crop ; and what subsidy was paid from public funds for its production or processing.

Mr. Curry : The 1989 oilseed rape production survey of England published a 25 October estimated production at 821,000 tonnes from 284,000 hectares. The value of the 1989 crop in the United Kingdom as a whole is still being assessed. Value estimates will be included in "Agriculture in the United Kingdom" due to be published early in 1990. Production aid under the EC oilseeds scheme is being paid on the 1989 crop ; final estimates of the amount paid will not be known until at least the end of the 1989-90 marketing year.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list all the countries in the European Community where evidence of cattle contracting the disease bovine spongiform encephalopathy has been discovered.

Mr. Gummer : The Republic of Ireland.

Cattle Offal

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the organisations with which he consulted about his proposed ban on the use of cattle offal for human consumption.

Mr. Gummer : The following organisations were consulted : Agricultural Research Council--Meat Research Institute

Agriculture and Food Research Council

Animal Health Distributors (UK) Ltd

Association of British Abattoir Owners

Association of County Councils

Association of District Councils

Association of London Authorities

Association of Meat Inspectors (GB) Ltd

Association of Metropolitan Authorities

Association of Sea and Airport Health Authorities

Bacon and Meat Manufacturers' Association

British Association of Canned and Preserved Food Importers and Distributors

British Food Manufacturing Industries Research Association British Hotels and Restaurants Association

British Medical Association

British Multiple Retailers Association

British Ports Association

British Retail Association

British Veterinary Association

Butterworths Law of Food and Drugs

Caterers Association of Great Britain

Chemical Industries Association

College for the Distributive Trades

Consumers Association

Consumers in the European Community Group (UK)

Co-operative Meat Trade Technical Panel

Co-operative Union Ltd

Customs and Excise

Dairy Trade Federation

EC Commission

Column 783

Environmental Health Briefing

Faculty of Community Medicines

Farm and Food Society

Federation of Agricultural Co-operatives

Federation of Freshmeat Wholesalers

FMC (Meat) Limited

Food and Drink Industry Council

Food Manufacturers' Association

Grain and Feed Trade Association

Greyhound Racing Association

Hide and Allied Trades Improvement Society

Infant and Dietetic Food Association

Institute of Food Science and Technology (UK)

Institute of Meat

Institute of Trading Standards Authorities

Institution of Environmental Health Officers

International Meat Trade Association

Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce

Joint Animal By-Products Parliamentary and Advisory Committee Joint Consultative Council for the Meat Trade in the UK Joint Industrial Council for the Slaughterhouse Industry JS Engineering (Norfolk) Ltd.

Lard Association

Licensed Animal Slaughterers and Salvage Association

Livestock Auctioneers Market Committee for England and Wales Livestock Traders Association of Great Britain

Local Authorities Committee on Trading Standards

Local Authority Conditions and Services Advisory Board

Master of Bassetthounds Association

Master of Deerhounds Association

Master of Draghounds Association

Master of Foxhounds Association

Meat and Livestock Commission

Meat Industry Liaison Group

Meat Manufacturers' Association

Meat Trade Journal

Meat Trades Annual

National Animal Health Panel

National Association of Tripe Dressers

National and Local Government Officers Association

National Cold Storage Federation

National Committee of the Wholesale Provision Trade

National Consumer Council

National Council of Freshmeat Wholesalers

National Farmers Union

National Federation of Consumer Groups

National Federation of Meat Traders

National Federation of Wholesale Grocers and Provision Merchants Association

National Greyhound Racing Club

National Office of Animal Health

National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers

Natural Sausage Casing Association

Non-UK Provision Trade Association

Parliamentary Committee Co-operative Union Limited

Pet Food Manufacturers' Association

Port of London Health Authority

Retail Consortium

Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

Royal Society for the Promotion of Health

Smithfield Market Tenants' Association

United Kingdom Agricultural Supply Trade Association

United Kingdom Provision Trade Federation

United Kingdom Renderers' Association

United Kingdom Association of Frozen Food Producers

United Kingdom Fellmongers Association

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