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Column 344


Cattle, chickens, pigs, sheep, turkeys


Cattle, pigs, poultry




Chickens, pigs, turkeys

Organic Produce

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will be conducting an investigation into the current price differences between organically and non-organically grown produce ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean : I have no plans for such a survey. Prices are set by market forces. I have been encouraging British farmers to respond to the strong demand for organic produce.


Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, any recent guidance concerning the release of agricultural land for afforestation ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean : I recognise the important role that forestry can play as an alternative use of agricultural land and this is reflected in the woodland grant scheme and in the farm woodland scheme which we introduced last year. I have not, however, issued any recent guidance on the subject.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

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 confirmed cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy for each county of England and Wales for the four-week period ending 16 December.

Mr. Maclean : The information is as follows :

County                 |Number       


Bedfordshire           |2            

Cambridge              |2            

Essex                  |10           

Hertfordshire          |2            

Lincolnshire           |5            

Norfolk                |11           

Northamptonshire       |4            

Suffolk                |3            

Cheshire               |11           

Derbyshire             |5            

Hereford and Worcester |7            

Lancashire             |14           

Leicestershire         |15           

Merseyside             |1            

Nottinghamshire        |5            

Salop                  |25           

Staffordshire          |15           

Warwickshire           |11           

Cumbria                |5            

Durham                 |4            

Humberside             |3            

Yorkshire North        |12           

Yorkshire South        |1            

Yorkshire West         |1            

Berkshire              |7            

Buckinghamshire        |9            

Hampshire              |34           

Isle of Wight          |5            

Kent                   |19           

Oxon                   |12           

Surrey                 |12           

Sussex East            |12           

Sussex West            |20           

Avon                   |9            

Cornwall               |57           

Devon                  |82           

Dorset                 |62           

Glostershire           |26           

Somerset               |44           

Wiltshire              |50           

Clwyd                  |8            

Dyfed                  |21           

Glamorgan South        |3            

Gwent                  |4            

Gwynedd                |2            

Powys                  |10           


  Total                |682          

Table file CW891220.061 not available


Mr. Amos : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will visit the Hexham constituency.

Mr. Gummer : I hope to visit Newcastle university early next summer and to make a tour of the surrounding area, which may include a visit to my hon. Friend's constituency.

Food Colouring

Mr. Anthony Coombs : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what policies he is pursuing to control the use of colouring materials in food.

Mr. Maclean : I refer my hon. Friend to my Ministry's press release number 493/89 of 29 November 1989, a copy of which I have sent to him direct.


Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether imported eggs are subject to the same standards as those now applied to domestically produced eggs ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Curry : All eggs marketed in the United Kingdom must meet the standards prescribed in Council Regulation (EEC) 2772/75 and Commission Regulation (EEC) 95/69 (both amended).

As regards monitoring for salmonella I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) on 11 December ( Official Report, column 522. )

Brogdale Experimental Horticulture Station

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement concerning the future ownership and access to breeding material and alternative varieties of fruit at the Brogdale experimental horticulture station.

Mr. Gummer : As my noble Friend announced on 14 December, the national fruit collection is to be moved

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from Brogdale experimental horticulture station to Wye college. The Government will continue to provide financial support for the collection, so the collection will remain in public ownership. Detailed arrangements have yet to be finalised, but we intend that the present level of access to the collection will be maintained. This will include the provision of breeding material to, and access for, bona fide plant breeders. In addition, we expect the collection's proximity to Wye college will result in improved access for scientific and educational purposes.

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many different plant species are currently held at the Brogdale experimental horticulture station ; who has access to this material ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gummer : Some 16 species of fruit are featured at Brogdale experimental horticultural station. In total they comprise 3,800 varieties in the heritage collections, 750-800 varieties in new fruit variety trials and 75 in plant variety rights trials. Access to the material in the collections is available to the public for a small handling charge.

New variety trial information is available to growers via charged--ADAS advice.

Plant variety rights trials are confidential to the Plant Variety Rights Office and the plant breeders entering them.

Plant material from breeders at home and abroad is protected by agreements which prevent wider distribution without reference to owners.


Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the findings of the study on amino acid isomerisation and microwave exposure by G. Lubec Cle. Wolf and B. Barbosch of the university of Vienna, as published in a letter in the Lancet on 9 December, a copy of which has been sent to him.

Mr. Maclean : I refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave to the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) on 13 December at column 698 .

Fish Diseases

Mr. Couchman : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he proposes to take to prevent the introduction of the fish disease, infectious salmon anaemia ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gummer : Infectious salmon anaemia (or infectious laxanaemia) is a viral disease of salmon which causes high mortalities in farmed fish and for which there is no known effective treatment. It may be spread by the movement of live fish and can be carried in the viscera of salmon carcasses. It has been found only in Norway where a number of farms are now infected.

We already prohibit imports into Great Britain of all live fish of the salmon family. The importation of dead, ungutted fish is also generally prohibited save, under an exemption licence, from the Irish Republic, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and Norway.

As a further safeguard, and in view of the serious nature of infectious salmon anaemia and its establishment in Norway, we have decided to modify the exemption licence

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so that ungutted salmon and trout may not be imported from Norway. This prohibition will take effect on 25 December and will be until further notice.

As an additional precautionary measure, we have decided that infectious salmon anaemia will be made a notifiable disease throughout Great Britain in accordance with the terms of the Diseases of Fish Act 1937.

Fisheries Council

Mr. Ian Bruce : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the outcome of the Brussels Fisheries Council held on 18 and 19 December.

Mr. Gummer : I refer my hon. Friend to the statement that I made earlier today.

Cook-chill Foods

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether the reheating of cook-chill foods from retail outlets is required for safety reasons prior to consumption ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gummer [holding answer 18 December 1989] : In any food, the possibility cannot be ruled out that microbiological contamination may occur at some stage before the consumer eats it. With food that is to be heated, therefore, as a matter of prudence consumers should ensure that it is heated until piping hot right through.

Animals and Birds (Transport)

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to bring the live export of domestic animals by sea under the regulations governing farm animals.

Mr. Maclean : The Transit of Animals (General) Order 1973, as amended, will continue to apply to such animals until new EC measures are agreed on the protection of all animals during transport.

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take urgent steps to improve the conditions under which live animals and birds are transported.

Mr. Maclean : Extensive national legislation is already in place to protect animals and birds in transit. The Commission has submitted proposals for Community measures and we will be seeking to ensure that these lay down high standards of welfare and that the measures are effectively enforced.

Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will place in the Library a copy of the United Kingdom rules which currently provide minimum values designed to prevent the export of horses for slaughter, indicating which rules, if any, would continue under the draft European Community regulation on protection of animals during transportation.

Mr. Maclean : Sections 40 and 41 of the Animal Health Act 1981 provide for minimum values for exports of

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ponies and certain types of horses. These arrangements cannot be maintained if the proposed EC regulation is adopted as drafted.

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what figures are easily available regarding the importation both of pet birds and captive birds for 1988 ; and how many birds in each category (a) were dead on arrival and (b) died in quarantine.

Mr. Maclean [pursuant to his reply 18 December 1989, c. 31] : I have placed in the Library of the House today copies of the results of a survey by my Department into mortalities of imported birds during 1988. The figures cover deaths on arrival at quarantine premises and during the statutory quarantine period. Broadly, the study shows that of 185,000 birds, 5,000 were dead on arrival and a further 21,000 died during post- import quarantine. The average mortality was 13.7 per cent. These losses are in addition to unquantified deaths during capture in the country of origin and subsequent handling and transport.

This study, the first of its kind in Europe, provides a basis for considering what further measures need to be taken. I share the widespread concern about the high level of mortality in this trade. Our existing arrangements relating to the import of captive birds have been strikingly successful in dealing with the disease risks which such imports would otherwise constitute, but in the light of the results of the survey I will be taking further steps to ensure that our requirements are being fulfilled. My officials will be visiting major exporting countries to determine how effectively they fulfil our certification requirements and impress upon them the importance of following IATA standards for shipment to the United Kingdom. These visits will enable us to decide whether it is necessary to impose additional conditions and whether there are any countries from which imports should no longer be accepted on health grounds. They are an essential prerequisite because action must be seen to be securely founded on proven risk if it is to be compatible with our international obligations regulations.

I will also review the conditions that are imposed after birds reach the United Kingdom, including stocking rates in quarantine premises (which my officials are already examining) and the possibility of requiring post- import prophylactic treatment for certain important diseases. Officials will be meeting representatives of the bird trade to discuss the implications of the results of the survey and the possibility of a code of practice which could for example tackle the question of restricting imports to less vulnerable species. I will be contacting the airlines to emphasise how much importance I attach to compliance with satisfactory practice in transporting birds and will be considering whether any further welfare safeguards are needed.

Measures to deal with the high mortality found among imported birds will not, however, be effective on a national level. I therefore propose to raise this issue in Community discussion at an early opportunity and intend that the United Kingdom should ensure that the Community fully recognises the seriousness of this welfare issue.


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