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Bradford Rail Link

Mr. Cryer : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will have discussions with the chairman of British Rail on the provision of financial assistance for the development of a cross-Bradford rail link ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Portillo : It is for British Rail and the West Yorkshire passenger transport authority to decide whether there is a case for investment.

British Rail (Meetings)

Mr. Yeo : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he last met the chairman of British Rail ; and what subjects were discussed.

Mr. Portillo : My right hon. Friend last met the chairman of British Rail on 22 November, when a variety of railway matters was discussed.

Road Maintenance

Mr. Tredinnick To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what incentive schemes are in operation to encourage motorway and other major road maintenance contractors to complete repairs on or ahead of schedule ; whether any new incentives are planned ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : The main incentive to contractors to complete maintenance work as soon as possible is the use of lane rental contracts. Since these contracts were introduced in 1984, they are estimated to have saved over 2,000 days of lane closures worth around £40 million in avoided delays to road users.

As well as encouraging contractors to complete work more quickly, we are acting to reduce the impact of works on the road user. A number of new traffic management arrangements are being tested to increase vehicle flows past contraflow sites. These include the use of narrower traffic lanes to enable more lanes to be provided, and tidal flow systems in which the number of lanes available in each direction changes to match traffic demand. The Department is also developing a computer system to assist in optimising the planning and scheduling of maintenance and improvement works on trunk roads, including motorways, to minimise disruption to road users.

Motorways (Safety)

Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to improve safety on motorways ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : Responsible driving is the key to improving motorway safety. We announced a comprehensive package of measures last year to help drivers. These included advice leaflets, videos, extra driving tuition, roadworks safety, signing requirements and 70 mph repeater signs.

A further development to which I attach particular importance is better information for drivers on what is ahead.

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Cost-Benefit Analysis

Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to instruct BR to undertake full cost-benefit analyses on their investment proposals ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Portillo : The circumstances in which cost-benefit appraisal is appropriate for the evaluation of rail investments were set out in the Government's observations on the third report of the Transport Committee, Session 1987-88 (House of Commons paper 420). British Rail is aware of them.


Mr. Janner : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received concerning congestion at junction 21 of the M1 motorway.

Mr. Atkins : Since the beginning of 1987 the Department has received six letters and two parliamentary questions from hon. Members, including one letter and one question from the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West. The Department has also received a total of 14 other representations from Leicestershire county council, Blaby district council, Leicestershire constabu-lary, local businesses and individuals.

I am aware of the particular problems at junction 21. Plans were announced in the "Roads for Prosperity" White Paper in May for M1 widening and junction improvements, including a major scheme at junction 21. Construction of an interim improvement scheme will begin in the spring.

Channel Tunnel

Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with Eurotunnel and British Rail about the proposed Channel tunnel ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Portillo : My right hon. Friend and I have had discussions with Eurotunnel and with British Rail on a range of issues related to the Channel tunnel.

Mr. Prescott : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what contact his Department has had with Eurotunnel or TML representatives to discuss the disposal of surplus spoil from the Shakespeare cliff site ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Parkinson : My Department has discussed the disposal of spoil arising from the Channel tunnel with Eurotunnel and TML on a number of occasions.

I understand that Eurotunnel originally planned to use 1 million cu m of spoil as part of the bulk fill required for the construction of the Cheriton terminal. At the start of the operation, it used sand brought in by pipeline. This was welcomed by local authorities, as it involved less environmental disturbance than would the use of spoil. Sand was therefore used for the whole operation. Eurotunnel identified a number of options for disposal of the now surplus spoil, on which it consulted the Department and other interested parties. It announced at the meeting of the Kent joint consultative committee on 18 October, chaired by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, that it was not its intention to bring forward a private Bill

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on the matter. It is still considering, with TML, disposal options permitted within the Channel Tunnel Act, and has promised full consultation with those concerned.

Public Transport

Mr. Andrew Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Government have undertaken a comparative cost analysis between increased investment in public transport and constructing new roads and improving old ones.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer Monday 27th November 1989]: The Government's policy is to support worthwhile investment in both public transport and roads. Investment in public transport is supported in its own right and where it is a more cost-effective way of dealing with transport problems than road improvements or traffic management measures. The policy is explained more fully in the

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Government's response to the Transport Select Committee published in March 1988 (House of Commons Paper No. 420, Session 1987-88.)


Toxic Waste

Mr. Dewar : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the ports currently registered for the import of toxic waste in Scotland, and the amount of such waste imported, the country of origin and the destination, and the nature of the waste, through each of those ports, for the last three years available.

Mr. Rifkind : There is no requirement under the legislation on waste disposal for specific ports to be registered for imports. Returns made by Scottish local authorities indicate that the total amounts of waste imported into Scotland in 1987 and 1988 were as follows :

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1987                                |15                                 |Holland                            |Strathkelvin                       |Sub-soil                                                               

1988                                |2                                  |Sweden                             |Inverness                          |Sodium metal                                                           

                                    |451                                |Eire                               |Edinburgh                          |Solvent and contaminated methylated                                    

                                                                                                                                                |   spirits (for recycling)                                             

Information is not available for earlier years.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he intends to issue new guidance to bring the community charge liability of merchant seamen who are at sea for more than six months in the year into line with the guidance issued for England and Wales by the Department of the Environment on 26 October.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : My right hon. and learned Friend has no plans to do so at present. It is for community charges registration officers, whether in Scotland or in England and Wales, to decide in the light of all the facts and circumstances relating to individual cases whether a person is solely or mainly resident in their area and thus liable to pay the personal community charge. Decisions made by community charges registration officers are, of course, appealable.

Further Education

Mr. Allan Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will reconsider the timetable for appointing the new further education college councils under the Self-Governing Schools Etc. (Scotland) Act 1989.

Mr. Ian Lang : My right hon. and learned Friend has received representations that the proposed date of 1 April 1990 for appointing further education college councils will leave insufficient time for education authorities to carry out full consultations on the appointment of employer representatives. In the light of these representations, he intends to make a direction under the Act amending the date to 1 August 1990. College council regulations will be made early in 1990 once we have had time to consider comments on our proposals in the consultative paper the "College Control Principle". It is open to an authority to

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appoint college councils before 1 August 1990, and the date for college councils taking over their new functions will continue to be 1 October 1990.


Sir Hector Monro : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has considered the responses to the Scottish Development Department's consultation paper, "Scotland's Natural Heritage."

Mr. Rifkind : I have received 179 responses to the consultation paper seeking views on our proposal to merge the proposed Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland (NCCS) and the existing Countryside Commission for Scotland (CCS) and express my appreciation to all who submitted views. The responses have been wide ranging both in their sources and their comments. I am encouraged that our consultation paper stimulated a wide debate and provided scope for those responding to offer their own proposals for developing the potential of the new framework for a more co- ordinated approach to nature conservation and countryside matters in Scotland.

Of the 159 respondents expressing a view, 98 (over 60 per cent.) are in favour of the merger of NCCS and CCS and 61 are opposed. Twenty did not express a view. I am pleased to report that our merger proposals are supported by a wide cross-section of respondents including voluntary conservation organisations. I was particularly pleased that CCS and the NCC (the Scottish advisory committee) are in favour of our proposals.

A great many respondents paid tribute to the work of the NCC and CCS in Scotland and I would also add my own tribute to both bodies and especially their staff, to whom the Government have given assurances of job security.

The responses have confirmed the Government's judgment that a new unified body will provide a sensitive,

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coherent and co-ordinated approach to the protection and enjoyment of Scotland's unique and priceless landscape, wildlife and habitat. Many responses emphasised the need for a strong science base and co-ordination on standards, research and matters of GB or international significance. The Government recognise this need and the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment on 23 November at columns 16-17 , set out the Government's proposals for a statutory co-ordinating committee of the three proposed nature conservation bodies.

Many respondents, including some who supported the merger, also sought reassurances on a range of matters including the independence, funding, staffing and location of the new body. I intend to respond to their concerns and will consult further on the detailed aspects of my proposals before bringing forward the legislation needed to create a single natural heritage body in Scotland. I will invite comments early in 1990.


Mr. Baldry : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what initiatives his Department is taking to develop vaccine to protect badgers from tuberculosis.

Mr. Maclean : Work on a vaccine for use on badgers has been carried out at the Middlesex hospital in collaboration with the central veterinary laboratory (CVL). Further work is planned, particularly in respect of safety, to enable field trials to be undertaken. This work will commence at the CVL shortly.

Pesticide Unit

Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he proposes to take to improve the efficiency of the pesticide unit at Harpenden.

Mr. Maclean : Procedural changes and closer contacts with other national regulatory bodies conducting reviews of old chemicals are being implemented aimed at speeding up the evaluation of pesticides and minimising duplication of effort. Scientific and administrative staff have received special pay awards designed to encourage recruitment and retention. In addition, outside consultants have been asked to study the benefits of installing a suitable new information technology system and the use of independent consultants to evaluate certain data is being explored.

Fisheries Council

Mr. Mans : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the outcome of the Brussels Fisheries Council held on 27 November.

Mr. Curry : I attended the Council of Fisheries Ministers in Brussels on 27 November 1989. The Council decided on guide prices for 1990 and we secured the maintenance of the seasonal price arrangement for herring which is important to our industry. The Council agreed on useful arrangements for assisting the improvement of member states' enforcement. Further, the Council agreed on an increase in the total allowable catch for Channel cod which gives the United Kingdom a further 66 tonnes this year.

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Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on cross-contamination within slaughterhouses.

Mr. Maclean : Statutory hygiene controls, enforced by local authorities, apply at all stages of meat production to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. My Department is continuously seeking ways of further reducing the incidence of cross-contamination. We will be advising local authorities and the industry shortly on additional measures further to reduce the incidence of contamination in poultry slaughterhouses.

Food Irradiation

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the implications for Government policy of the recent European Parliament vote on food irradiation.

Mr. Maclean : The vote as such has no implications for Government policy. It is the means by which the Parliament has set out its opinion on the proposal from the Commission. The co-operation procedure provides for the Commission to take a view of the Parliament's opinion and for the Council to seek a common position among the member states.

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what studies have been carried out or are in progress to examine the effects of food irradiation on (a) listeria monocytogenes, (b) pesticide residues and (c) vitamin levels ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean : I refer the hon. Member to the bibliography at Appendix G of the report on the safety and wholesomeness of irradiated foods by the advisory committee on irradiated and novel foods, available in the Library of the House. This refers to a number of studies on vitamin levels in treated foods and to the use of the process to reduce or eliminate pathogenic micro-organisms. So far as listeria monocytogenes is concerned a further study has been carried out by my Department which may be published in the near future. Further a recent study by Dr. M. Patterson, Queens university, Belfast has been published in "Letters on Applied Microbiology 8(5)" pages 181-184.

The effects of irradiation on pesticide residues were considered by the advisory committee on irradiated and novel foods which concluded that the levels of any radiolytic products of such residues would be negligible. Further information on this sector will be found in the World Health Organisation publication "Consumer Concerns about the Safety of Irradiated Food" (ref WHO/EHE/FOS/89.1).

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the membership of the working party on food irradiation, and indicate which members represent consumer interests, which enforcement agencies, and which food industry interests.

Mr. Maclean : The membership of the advisory committee on irradiated and novel foods is as follows. The

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members did not represent sectoral interests, but were chosen for their expertise in the various specialised branches of science relevant to consideration of the safety and wholesomeness of irradiated food.


Sir Arnold Burgen MD, FRCP, FRS.

Master of Darwin College, University of Cambridge.

Members :

Professor J. W. Bridges BSc, PhD, CChem, FRSC, FIBiol, MRCPath, MinstEnvSci.

Director of the Robens Institute of Industrial and Environmental Health and Safety, University of Surrey.

Professor J. D. Bu'Lock BA, PhD.

Head of the Microbial Chemistry Laboratories, University of Manchester

Dr. J. C. Gould BSc, MD, FRCPE, FRCPath, FFCM, FIBiol, FRSE. Former Director of the Central Microbiological Laboratories, Edinburgh.

Dr. H. Smith PhD, FIBiol.

Former Head of the Biology Department, National Radiological Protection Board.

Professor J. Hawthorn BSc, PhD, ARCST, CChem, FRSC, FIBiol, FIFST, FRSE.

Emeritus Professor of Food Science, University of Strathclyde. Professor W. P. T. James MD, MA, DSc, FRCP, FRCP(Edin). Director of the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen.

Professor B. E. B. Moseley BSc, PhD.

Head of Reading Laboratory, Agriculture and Food Research Council Institute of Food Research, Reading.

Dr. A. N. B. Stott MB, ChB, FFOM.

Former Chief Medical Officer, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.

Dr. A. J. Swallow PhD, DSc, ScD, CChem, FRSC.

Head of the Biophysical Chemistry Division, Paterson Institute, Christie Hospital and Holt Radium Institute Manchester.

Professor E. D. Wills MA, MSc, PhD, ScD.

Late Head of the Department of Biochemistry, St. Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College, London.

Ex Officio Members :

Professor A. E. Bender PhD, DSc(Hon), FRSH, FIFST.

Emeritus Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics, University of London.

(Chairman of the Panel on Novel Foods).

Professor P. Turner MD, BSc, FRCP, HonMPS, HonFIBiol.

Professor of Clinical Pharmacology, St. Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College, London.

(Chairman of the Committee of Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment).

Dr. J. E. M. Whitehead MA, MB, FRCPath, DipBact.

Former Director of the Public Health Laboratory Service, London (Former Member of the Standing Panel on Hazards from Microbial Contamination of Food).

Until December 1982.

From August 1983 until April 1985.

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many representations from members of the public he has received in favour of the relaxation of the ban on food irradiation ; and how many against.

Mr. Maclean : Since the announcement of the Government's decision to take steps to enable consumers to choose the additional protection of irradiated food if they so wish, 34 letters have been received from members of the public either expressing support or seeking further information and 92 letters have expressed concern about aspects of the matter.

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Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the use of microwaves for primary heating of food products.

Mr. Maclean : The question presumably refers to the use of microwave ovens to cook food from raw. Each microwave oven manufacturer provides instructions on how best to do this using his particular oven. The user should of course check that the food is thoroughly cooked in the same way as is necessary with any other cooking method.

Food Industry

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many meetings he has had within the last 12 months with representatives from (a) Sainsburys, (b) Safeways, (c) Tesco, (d) Marks and Spencer and (e) Trusthouse Forte ; what matters were discussed ; if he plans any future meetings ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Curry : My right hon. Friend, like his predecessor, maintains regular contacts with the food industry, including on occasions meeting representatives from individual companies to discuss matters of mutual concern. During the past year at such meetings, particular emphasis has been put on all aspects of food safety and protection of the consumer.

Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowances

Mr. Amos : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects to make an announcement about the new rates of hill livestock compensatory allowances ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Curry : An announcement of the 1990 HLCA rates and scheme conditions will be made as soon as possible following completion of the annual autumn review of the economic conditions in the hill and upland areas.

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