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Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what temperature requirements he imposes on rendering plants for the heating of animal material ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer : Animal protein processors are subject to the requirements of the Processed Animal Protein Order 1989. This does not contain specific temperature requirements but lays down controls which are designed to prevent the removal from processing plants of animal protein, for use as feedingstuffs, which is contaminated with salmonella.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what tests are carried out for salmonella in chickens imported into the United Kingdom for breeding purposes ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer : Chickens imported into Great Britain for breeding purposes undergo a serological test for salmonellosis when they reach 16 to 18 weeks of age, which is towards the end of the required post-import isolation
Column 135period. Imported chickens are also subject to the detailed bacteriological testing regime laid down by the Poultry Breeding Flocks and Hatcheries (Registration and Testing) Order 1989.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which European Community measures he is proposing to adopt to tackle the problem of salmonella in poultry foods ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer : The European Commission is drafting proposed measures on salmonella which are expected to include controls on feedingstuffs. If agreed by the Council these would apply throughout the Community.
Mr. Gummer : My officials have been in touch with the industry about the Public Health Laboratory Service findings, which are provisional, and individual firms have taken action to deal with the very low levels of contamination detected.
Mr. Maclean : Aid for Malawi is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development. However, my Department plays an active role in the development of United Kingdom and EC measures, including in particular, those affecting trade in agricultural products, which are intended to provide benefits for developing countries, including Malawi.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which of his Ministry's laboratories in England and Wales are currently involved in the food monitoring programme arising from the import of lead-contaminated animal feed ; and if he will estimate by percentage of the total the amount of work carried out in each case.
|Percentage |allocation |of work --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland, Aberdeen |4 Milk Marketing Board, Thames Ditton |80 Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food regional office, Leeds |1 Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food food science laboratory, Norwich |11 Plymouth polytechnic |1 United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, Harwell |3
Sir John Farr : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take steps to stimulate a farmers' retirement scheme for introduction in appropriate areas, to encourage farmers to sell their land or part of it for forestry purposes.
We are taking an active part in negotiation of the European Commission's nutrition labelling proposals and hope that a common position will be reached soon. The proposals are similar to the Ministry's nutrition labelling guidelines and provide for a voluntary system of nutrition labelling with a mandatory format so that consumers can compare products more easily. Nutrition labelling would be compulsory only when a nutrition claim was made. There is provision for a three-year lead-in period to allow labels to be changed and, given the close resemblance of the guidelines to the Commission proposals, I hope that manufacturers and retailers will be encouraged to provide as much nutrition information as possible within their resources according to the guidelines until Community legislation is in place.
I also refer the hon. Member to the debate on nutritional labelling in Standing Committee on 1 November 1989 (ISBN 0 10 999789 1)
Mr. Newton : Under the war pensions scheme administered by my Department, the basic pension paid to a war widow is the same regardless of when she was widowed. There are, however, extra payments to older widows, which will be further improved in real terms next April. It is estimated that about 2,000 war widows live in the Liverpool area.
Mr. Scott : We have received a number of representations, mainly about the position of war widows who do not receive a pension under the armed forces pension scheme administered by the Ministry of Defence.
Column 137Mrs. Gillian Shephard : The standard war widows pension is £56.65 a week. In addition age allowances of £6.10 at 65, £12.20 at 70 and £13.50 at 80 are paid. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State recently announced, these amounts will be increased next April to £60.95, £7, £13.50 and £20 respectively. All war pensions and allowances are tax free. A widow receiving a war widows' pension may also receive any national insurance benefit earned by her own contributions. When claiming income- related benefits £5 of a war widows pension is disregarded. This statutory disregard will be doubled to £10 from next April.
Refusals as a percentage of applications processed |CCGs |Budgeting |loans --------------------------------------------------------- April 1988 |54.5 |65.9 May 1988 |55.8 |41.1 June 1988 |55.7 |42.0 July 1988 |54.7 |42.1 August 1988 |54.6 |39.6 September 1988 |53.0 |40.0 October 1988 |52.1 |36.4 November 1988 |50.5 |35.1 December 1988 |48.0 |34.0 January 1989 |44.8 |44.0 February 1989 |44.5 |37.0 March 1989 |43.4 |37.0 April 1989 |52.6 |41.3 May 1989 |55.3 |42.2 June 1989 |56.6 |48.4 July 1989 |56.6 |42.0 August 1989 |55.7 |45.9 September 1989 |56.5 |46.7 (provisional) |56.7 |45.3
38. Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many applications there were for grants and loans from the social fund in the last month for which figures are available ; what was the monthly average for the last financial year ; and whether he has any plans to increase the size of the fund.
Mr. Scott : With regard to the size of the budget, I refer the right hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Peckham (Ms. Harman) on 10 November 1989 at column 812. The average number of applications received in 1988-89 can be derived from information in the Secretary of State's annual report published in July 1989. Figures for the period April to October 1989 can be derived from the information placed monthly in the Library.
Mr. Scott : We are continuing to monitor closely the operation of the social fund. Nearly 1 million interest-free loans have been made since the scheme began averaging £211 for budgeting loans and £46 for crisis loans. Over a quarter of a million community care grants have been awarded averaging £266. The number of awards of community care grants awarded in the period April to October 1989 was 128 per cent. higher than in the same period last year, and the numbers of budgeting loans increased by 36 per cent. over the same period. The flexible way in which the scheme operates has enabled social fund officers to provide help which would not have been available under the rigid regulations of the old single payments scheme.
Mr. Newton : On current plans social security spending will be £52.6 billion in 1989-90, an increase in real terms of 35 per cent. over the figure in 1978-79, which, at today's prices, was £39 billion.
17. Mr. Nellist : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what conclusions he is able to draw from his monitoring of the Social Security Act 1988 changes to the benefit entitlements of young people ; and if he will make a statement.
18. Mr. Jessel : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of the total budget of his Department is used to provide for the needs of one-parent families ; and what was the corresponding percentage for 10 and 20 years ago.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : Data on a consistent basis are available only for the years from 1981-82. In that year spending on lone-parent families accounted for 4.8 per cent. of total benefit expenditure compared with 7.5 per cent. for 1988-89. For the purposes of this comparison the benefits paid to lone-parents have been counted as one-parent benefit, supplementary benefit income support, housing benefit, child benefit, maternity benefit and family income supplement family credit. The comparison excludes benefit paid to widows with children because insufficient information is available.
Column 140constantly under review to ensure that they respond to need while encouraging independence. So, for example, my right hon. Friend's recent uprating statement recognised the special needs of lone-parent families by increasing the lone-parent premium in housing benefit from next April from £8.60 to £9.70 a week and raising the amount lone parents can earn before housing benefit is affected from £15 to £25 a week from October 1990. These changes will give further help to working lone parents with high housing costs.
Mr. Scott : We have improved incentives by bringing about significant increases in the real value of take-home pay through reductions in income tax, increased tax allowances, the restructuring of national insurance contributions last month and improvements to in-work benefits. The replacement of family income supplement by family credit in April 1988 ended the absurd situation where an increase in pay could make people worse off. We recognise the importance of improving work incentives and shall continue to pursue policies in the future which make it worthwhile for people to take and keep employment.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : We attach great importance to the role of the family, and have pursued policies which improve their living standards. Working families have seen significant increases in their take home pay and we have concentrated extra resources in social security on those families who most need them.
Column 14151. Mr. Watson : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he will reconsider his decision not to uprate pensions in line with earnings.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : I have no plans to restore the link between pensions and earnings. The Government do not accept that uprating state retirement pension in line with earnings is the key factor in improving pensioners' incomes. Between 1979 and 1986 pensioners' average total net incomes increased by 23 per cent. in real terms.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : My right hon. Friend the Minister of State regularly meets representatives of pensioners' organisations. The last meeting he attended was shortly before the summer recess when he met a delegation from the joint committee of pensioner organisations. Amongst the topics of discussion were the reform changes, pensioners' incomes, the uprating of retirement pension, the poorer pensioners' package and National Health Service changes.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : In addition to the annual uprating of benefits we have introduced two wholly beneficial changes for pensioners with effect from October 1989--the abolition of the retirement pension earnings rule and the extra help for less well off elderly and disabled pensioners. Pensioners benefiting from the latter change who received income support or housing benefit had their benefit automatically increased. Separate national publicity campaigns were mounted to announce both these changes. We also identified and contacted nearly 3 million individuals who were likely to be affected.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : The latest information about the level of take-up relates to 1988 when a special examination of family expenditure survey returns indicated that, amongst employees, take-up was 65 per cent. in expenditure terms and 50 per cent. by caseload. The original estimates for family credit were based on an assumption that take-up would be one fifth higher than for family income supplement, the benefit it replaced.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : The latest take-up estimates, (published in March 1989), based on FES data for April to December 1988 show that take-up for family credit over that period was 65 per cent. in expenditure terms and 50 per cent. by caseload.
The latest take-up estimates for income support (supplementary benefit) are for 1985. On a caseload basis, take-up is 84 per cent. overall. Both the caseload and the expenditure take-up of supplementary benefit is higher than for previous years. Full technical notes on these take-up estimates are available in the Library. Overall, almost £9 out of every £10 of available income-related benefit expenditure is claimed and almost four out of every five eligible people claim what they are entitled to.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : The latest comprehensive information about family credit is for July 1989 when over 320,000 families received the benefit. Around 213,000 families received family income supplement at the time that scheme came to an end in April 1988.