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Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what consideration he has given to representations by manufacturers and retailers of certain foods concerning new temperature controls and the commercial viability of their business ;
(2) what consideration he has given to representations by soft cheese manufacturers suggesting that any new temperature control will prevent the proper maturing of traditional soft cheeses ; (3) what consideration he has given to stricter food labelling and improved food safety education as alternatives to statutory temperature controls in relation to food hygiene ;
(4) what plans he has to introduce statutory temperature controls regulating the temperatures of certain foods following the consultation document issued by his Department regarding proposed amendments to the Food Hygiene (General) Regulations 1970 ; (5) what response he has had to the consultation document issued by his Department regarding proposed amendments to the Food Hygiene (General) Regulations 1970 ;
(6) when he intends to lay before the House amendments to the Food Hygiene (General) Regulations 1970 ; and to what procedure they will be subject.
Mr. Freeman : Over 150 responses have been received to the consultation document, from all interested parties including those with a duty to enforce the regulations (environmental health officers) ; the retail trade, including representatives of small shopkeepers ; delicatessens and market traders ; catering organisations ; refrigeration interests ; delivery concerns ; microbiological experts and trade associations, including soft cheese manufacturers, bakers and representatives of dairy and meat manufacturers.
All the representations received are being given careful consideration in order to bring forward, in the near future, a measure which will balance the protection of the public health with the practicalities of implementation. In accordance with section 120(2) of the Food Act 1984, the regulations when laid will be subject to the negative resolution procedure. Questions of labelling and food
Column 568safety education and, indeed, hygiene in manufacturing processes are essential adjuncts but not alternatives to temperature controls and are being pursued in parallel.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if his Department will take steps to compile annual statistical returns on the use by local authorities of powers of compulsory removal under the provisions of the National Assistance Act and the Mental Health Act.
Mr. Freeman : Certain statistical information is already collected centrally about the use of the compulsory powers provided by the Mental Health Act, including the number of cases of guardianship under sections 7 and 37. (The decision to use these compulsory powers is based on the recommendations of medical practitioners). At present we do not see any need to collect statistics on the use of the compulsory removal power in section 47 of the National Assistance Act.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of the work of the social services inspectorate during the last available year was concerned with private sector social services provision.
Mr. Freeman : Direct concern with private sector social services provision is a matter for local authorities, which are the registering authorities for private residential care homes. The Department's social services inspectorate works with the statutory, private and voluntary sectors in promoting good standards of care. The results of this work are published from time to time. For example, the inspectorate has recently produced a handbook, "Homes Are for Living In", designed to help care home managers and local authority inspectors evaluate the quality of care in residential care homes for elderly people in both local authority and independent sector homes. It would not therefore be practicable to apportion the inspectorate's work between sectors.
Mr. Dobson : To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether any of the capital or revenue expenditure increase for 1988-89 over 1982 for the Hospital for Sick Children given in the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State's letter of 29 January to the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras represents spending on the cardiac block at Great Ormond Street.
Acute hospital beds in the North Western regional health authority Year |1979 |1988-89 ------------------------------------------------------------------ Average daily available beds in the acute sector (including units for the younger disabled) |13,545 |11,766 Over the same period numbers of patients treated have increased through improved efficiency in bed usage: in-patient cases treated up 43 per cent., day cases doubled and out-patient cases up 11 per cent. Source: SH3 returns-1979. KHO3 returns-1988-89.
Mr. Gummer : Expenditure by my Department on straw-related research is currently running at £706,000 per annum. Of this, £200,000 is concerned with the effect of straw incorporation into heavy clay soils and involves the following projects :
Amount of funding in 1989-90 Location and project |£000 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ADAS (Sproatley and Rochford) Straw incorporation on heavy clay and stony soils |50 ADAS (Boxworth EHF and Drayton EHF) Effects of straw disposal by soil cultivation AFRC (IER) Studies on cultivation mechanisms for cereals and other crops |150
Mr. Salmond : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received from, and what discussions he has had with, fishing industry representatives regarding prospects for the industry in 1990 ; and if he will make a statement on the outcome of any such meetings.
Mr. Curry : I and my officials are in frequent contact with the various representatives of the fishing industry. We discussed 1990 quotas and their implications in the run-up to the December Fisheries Council. I am working in close consultation with the industry to achieve improvements in our quota management and licensing arrangements and improved technical conservation measures.
Straw Disposal and Utilisation : A review of Knowledge : 1984 ; Working Party of the Straw Utilisation Group, MAFF ; available in the Library of the House.
Alternatives to Straw Burning : 1984 ; S. England, Imperial College London.
The Effects of Field Burning Restriction, Straw Incorporation and Alternative Uses as Fuel, Fibre on Feed on the Amount of Field Burning and the Supply and Demand for Straw : Divisional Note DN 1307 ; E. Audsley, Institute of Engineering Research.
Register of Research and Development on Straw Disposal and Utilisation : 1985 ; Chief Scientists' Group, MAFF, available in the Library of the House.
Alternative Methods of Straw Disposal and Utilisation : 1987 ; National Society for Clean Air, England.
The Biodegradation of Thatching Straw : 1988 ; J. J. H. Kirby and A. D. M. Rayner, University of Bath.
The Economics of Whole Group Crop Cereal Harvesting : Divisional Note DN 1555 ; 1989 ; E. Audsley, Institute of Engineering Research. Experiments Investigating the Mechanical and Agronomic problems of Incorporating Stripped and Chopped Straw on Clay Soil. 1987-88 : Divisional Note DN 1543 ; 1989, R. E. Cope, Institute of Engineering Research.
Mr. Curry : I have no present plans to do so, but I am always ready to meet Sir Derek to discuss matters of mutual interest and Ministers from this Department frequently meet Sir Derek at conferences and other functions.
Mr. John Townend : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what compensation his Department intends to offer those English fishermen who have been stopped fishing for North sea haddock because of overfishing by some Scottish FPOs.
Mr. Curry : Three Scottish and one English group exceeded their North sea haddock allocations in 1989 causing an early closure of the fishery. Compensation for the groups prejudiced by the early closure will be provided by deductions from the offending groups' 1990 allocations under established rules.
Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the stock of anthrax vaccine currently available for use in Wales ; what is its location ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Maclean : There is no commercial source of supply of anthrax vaccine in the United Kingdom at present. Supplies of vaccine are, however, held at the central veterinary laboratory, Weybridge, for emergency use in the event of an outbreak anywhere in the United Kingdom.
Column 571Mr. Curry : Estimates of farm incomes for 1989 are contained in "Agriculture in the United Kingdom 1989", published today and available in the Library of the House.
Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will add the unfrozen 1 per cent. of temporarily suspended milk quota to the national quota for 1989-90, so as to avoid United Kingdom dairy farmers incurring superlevy.
Mr. Curry : The decision taken by the Council of Agriculture Ministers was to cancel 1 per cent. out of the 5.5 per cent. of suspended wholesale quota and to add an equivalent quantity of new quota to the Community reserve for distribution by member states to their producers. I am currently considering to which categories of producer this additional 1 per cent. should be allocated in the United Kingdom. While I will try to ensure that quota is distributed before the end of the current quota year I cannot guarantee that this will be achieved, since we need to obtain Commission approval for our plans. We will seek to have the new quotas in place as soon as possible.
Mr. Curry : For unclassified but sensitive systems Departments are expected to follow the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) guidance covering all aspects of IT security and the application of this has been tightened recently. CCTA advice is kept under continuous review and is based on analysis of security risks and requirements using structured methods such as CCTA's risk analysis and management methodology (CRAMM) which has also been made commercially available.
More stringent conditions apply to classified systems.
Mr. Spearing : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for what reasons he ceased to publish the Command Paper entitled "Annual Review of Agriculture" ; what information provided there is not included in the replacement volume entitled "Agriculture in the United Kingdom", published annually ; and what matter in that publication could be, or was unsuited to, publication in the former Command Paper.
Mr. Curry : The then Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food announced on 5 December 1988 that the results of the annual review of agriculture would no longer be published as a White Paper. Before our accession to the European Community, the annual review led to the determination of commodity price guarantees for the coming year, which were published as part of the White Paper. Since our accession the emphasis has shifted towards the annual negotiation of agricultural prices in the European Community. The annual review White Paper has effectively become a compendium of agricultural statistics and it was considered that it was no longer appropriate to publish these in a White Paper.
Column 572All the statistical information previously contained in the annual review White Papers is now published annually in "Agriculture in the United Kingdom", together with some additional material, and all the information in the current publication could have been published in the previous format.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he intends to exempt any United Kingdom slaughterhouses from the requirements of EEC export standards ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Maclean : The EC Commission envisages that in the single market the rules which at present must be observed by slaughterhouses which engage in intra-Community trade should be extended to all plants throughout the Community, with the possibility of some minor exceptions only. The precise arrangements will depend, however, upon decisions still to be taken by the Council of Ministers.
I fully support the application of common standards to all plants and firmly believe that if any exceptions are to be permitted, for example for very small businesses trading locally, from some of the detailed structural requirements, they should be kept to a minimum and must not compromise hygiene standards.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his present estimate of the breeding flock of ewes in England and Wales and the number of ewes on which hill livestock compensatory allowance was (a) claimed and (b) paid in 1989 and 1988.
Mr. Curry : We estimate that the total breeding flock is currently 9.3 million ewes in England and 5.1 million ewes in Wales. The number of ewes on which hill livestock compensatory allowances were paid in the last two years is as follows :
|England|Wales |million|million -------------------------------- 1988 |3.2 |3.9 <1>1989 |3.4 |4.0 <1> Provisional.
Figures on the number of ewes on which HLCAs have been claimed are not readily available, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the new projects that he is now funding on bovine spongiform encephalopathy ; how much is to be spent on each ; where they are to be located ; and how many scientists he expects to work on each.
(a) epidemiology ; £0.6 million ; at the Central Veterinary Laboratory (CVL) ;
(b) clinicopathology ; £0.6 million ; at the CVL ;
(c) transmission studies ; £2.1 million ; at the CVL, the Neuropathogenesis Unit (NPU) and the Royal Veterinary College ; (
Column 573(d) molecular biology ; £0.5 million ; at the CVL and NPU ; (
(e) molecular genetics ; £0.5 million ; at the CVL and NPU ; and (
(f) dam-offspring transmissions ; £1.8 million ; by the CVL at ADAS experimental husbandry farms.
Further details of these research projects are contained in the interim Tyrrell report, a copy of which is in the Library of the House. It is not possible to give a meaningful breakdown of the scientific staff to be engaged on each project.
Mr. Curry : Our proposals for schemes of salmon dealer licensing in Scotland and in England and Wales, set out in the consultation papers issued last July, attracted responses from a wide range of interests. The Government have considered most thoroughly these responses as well as the benefits--in relation to the costs and other burdens involved--which these schemes might bring to continuing efforts to combat poaching.
As was explained in the consultation paper, the Government's principal objective was to reduce trade in unlawfully taken salmon with as little disruption and control of the lawful trade as practicable. The proposed schemes took account of the previous round of consultations and sought to achieve the best practicable balance between the possible benefits and the regulatory effort and costs which would be required. In particular, it was proposed that the schemes should apply to all salmon and sea trout, including farmed and imported fish, but would exempt final sales of fish by hoteliers, restaurateurs or retailers which they had obtained from licensed dealers.
Many who favoured salmon dealer licensing in principle argued that the schemes would not be effective with the range of exemptions that we had proposed. Some interests felt that salmon dealer licensing would work effectively only if compulsory carcase tagging (for which there is no legislative provision) was also introduced. On the other hand, fish farmers and many fish traders took the view that the schemes, even with the proposed exemptions, imposed an excessive and inappropriate regulatory burden on trade in legally obtained, and particularly farmed or imported, fish.
The Government recognise that the proposed exemptions could undermine the potential effectiveness of the scheme. The scheme would have had to apply to dealers importing salmon and, because wild salmon and farmed salmon are virtually indistinguishable except under forensic conditions, to farmed salmon, too. It became clear that the proposed scheme would impose a heavy burden on many businesses even with the proposals for exemptions and with record-keeping requirements kept to a minimum. For many traders and markets the record-keeping requirements, in particular, would pose virtually insurmountable difficulties. Accordingly, it has now been decided not to proceed further with these schemes for licensing of dealers. The Government, however, view most seriously the problem of salmon poaching, as do district salmon fishery boards in Scotland, the National Rivers Authority in England and Wales and police authorities. Considerable
Column 574use has been made of the additional powers introduced in the Salmon Act 1986 to make it illegal to possess or handle fish which had been obtained in suspicious circumstances. Substantial resources will continue to be committed by district boards and the DAFS fishery protection service in Scotland and the National Rivers Authority in England and Wales to enforcement at the point of capture or attempted capture. Further consideration is being given to a proposed scheme of salmon tagging which the River Tweed commissioners have been drawing up as a measure of local river bank management.
Mr. Forth : Although my Department has not attempted a capacity estimate, my hon. Friend will be interested to know that in 1988 United Kingdom paper and board manufacturers consumed a total of 2, 416,900 tonnes of waste paper. I understand that last year's total will be even higher.
Mr. Colin Shepherd : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much waste paper was imported into the United Kingdom in the year 1988-89 and the most recent 12 months for which figures are available, expressed in tonnes and sterling value.
United Kingdom imports of waste paper and paperboard<1> Year ended |Tonnes |£ thousands -------------------------------------------------- November 1988 |59,957 |8,970 November 1989 |76,349 |12,287 Source: Overseas Trade Statistics. <1>Subgroup 251.1 of the Standard International Trade Classification.
Mr. Butterfill : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on how the proposed European Community draft directive on package travel will affect current Association of British Travel Agents' codes of conduct.
Mr. Forth : An EC directive has yet to be formally adopted, although EC Ministers reached a common position on an amended proposal at the 21-22 December 1989 Council. It is therefore too early to say, in advance of its finally agreed form, how a directive might affect the operation of the ABTA codes of conduct. However, the Department of Trade and Industry will consult widely when considering how to implement any directive which is agreed in this area.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he has received the report on the prospects for south-west Yorkshire, Strathclyde, Greater Manchester and Merseyside in the European
Column 575Community single market proposed by the Catholic university of Louvain for the regional policy Commission ; if he will seek to have the report made available to hon. Members, indicating what policy changes he is considering in his policy in response ; and if he will make a statement on the studies he has commissioned on the problem.
Mr. Redwood : A draft report has been received from the Commission. Only selected regions within the Community were examined ; these included Strathclyde and south Yorkshire. The Commission has not yet published the report, though a copy of the draft was placed in the Library of the House on 1 February. The report is being studied.
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he proposes to make to Sir Leon Brittan, and what evidence he intends to provide, for his consideration of new rules to ensure the quality of audit by accountancy firms throughout Europe ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Henderson : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if the British Government have put any proposals to the European Community in discussions on the general agreement on tariffs and trade and textiles concerning safeguards, anti-dumping, access to new markets and preventing counterfeiting.
Mr. Redwood [holding answer 5 February 1990] : The Government recognise the need for the return of trade in textiles and clothing to GATT rules to be accompanied by a strengthening of those rules. We have played-- and will continue to play--an active part in the development of Community positions : we are keen to see progress in the current GATT negotiations on safeguards, anti-dumping, market access and intellectual property, all matters of great concern to the textile industry. The EC negotiators will have to judge all these matters in the light of progress in the GATT round as a whole.
Mrs. Peacock : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects the British Standards Institute to publish the revised version of BS6807, so enabling bed manufacturers to conform to the requirements of BS7177, with particular regard to the labelling of divan bases.
Mr. Forth [holding answer 5 February 1990] : BS6807--methods of test for the ignitability of mattresses--was published in 1986. I understand that the revised version which also covers testing of divans and bed bases, is due to be published about the end of March. The proposal to approve BS7177 for the purpose of the general safety duty of the Consumer Protection Act, was and remains limited to domestic mattresses.
Mr. Hannam : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many severe disablement allowance claimants are in receipt of (a) income support, (b) housing benefit, (c) another means-tested benefit ; and if he will state for each group what his Department's estimate is of the reduction in dependence on income-related benefits resulting from the introduction of the three age-related additions to severe disablement allowance.
Mr. Scott : It is estimated that about 140,000 severe disablement allowance claimants receive income support and that of these, about 50,000 also receive housing benefit. About a further 5,000 severe disablement allowance claimants receive housing benefit but not income support. The number receiving other income-related benefits is negligible. The introduction of an age-related addition for severe disablement allowance will result in a gross increase in expenditure of £110 million in the first full year after implementation (1991-92). The consequential reduction in expenditure on income-related benefits is expected to be £60 million leaving a net expenditure increase of £50 million. Almost all the reduction in income-related benefit expenditure stems from reduced dependence on income support.
Mr. Hannam : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his Department's estimate of the amount of reduction in dependence on income-related benefits by the introduction of the three age-related additions to severe disablement allowance.
Mr. Scott : The introduction of an age-related addition for severe disablement allowance will increase gross expenditure by £110 million in the first year after implementation (1991-92). The consequential reduction in income-related benefit expenditure is expected to amount to £60 million, leaving a net increase in expenditure of £50 million as a consequence of this measure.
Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list all the changes in social security law since May 1979 which have affected the entitlement of women to maternity payments, giving his estimate of the numbers affected by each measure and the savings, net of tax and benefits as appropriate, or cost of each measure.
November 1980-introduction of single payments for maternity needs through the supplementary benefit scheme 12 months ending |Amount paid |Number of |£ million |payments made -------------------------------------------------------------------- December 1981 |2.6 |61,000 December 1982 |5.4 |101,000 December 1983 |8.5 |142,000 December 1984 |12.8 |188,000 February 1986 |16.9 |188,000 May 1987 |18.3 |176,000 Source: Annual Statistical Inquiries. Notes: The data relate to all payments made during the 12 months prior to the inquiry. However, they exclude payments made to claimants who ceased to receive supplementary benefit prior to the date of the inquiry. Therefore the figures quoted may be an undercount of the actual payments made.
July 1982 --abolition of contribution conditions for £25 maternity grant.
Additional beneficiaries : 60,000.
Additional cost : £1.5 million per year.
The £25 maternity grant had not been increased since 1969. Most families could accommodate the cost of having a baby within their own resources, but for those who did need help £25 was clearly inadequate. The measures introduced in 1987 increased the grant by more than three times to £85 for people on low income.
April 1987 --abolition of single payments for maternity needs and maternity grant. Replacement by social fund maternity payment of £85.
Women not entitled to maternity grant : 700,000.
Savings : £17.7 million.
Awards of social fund maternity payments Year |Amount paid|Number of |(£ million)|awards -------------------------------------------------------- 1987-88 |15.5 |193,000 1988-89 |13.9 |162,000 April 1989-December 1989 |10.9 |126,700
There was no doubt that the maternity allowance no longer met its objective. The purpose of the allowance has always been to help pregnant working women to give up work in good time before the baby is due in the interest of their own and their baby's health. But the old contribution test meant that many women who had given up work before they became pregnant could still receive the allowance, whereas other women who had worked continuously over the previous 12 months failed to qualify. The new arrangements better targeted payments more directly on women with a recent employment record. April 1987 --introduction of statutory maternity pay (SMP). Beneficiaries : 250,000 per year.
Amounts of SMP paid :
April 1987 --introduction of revised contribution conditions for maternity allowance (MA).
Beneficiaries : 45,000 per year.
Amounts of MA paid :
It is estimated that the combined effect of the SMP and MA changes was a PSBR saving of £13 million in 1987-88. About 94,000 women with no recent attachment to the employment field no longer qualified for MA ; some 20,000 women qualified for MA or SMP for the first time. The rates of maternity benefits are subject to review each year. It is proposed for example that from April 1990 maternity allowance will increase from £33.20 to £35.70 per week and that the lower rate of SMP will be uprated in excess of the increase required to keep pace with the movement in prices from £36.25 to £39.25 per week. The social fund maternity payment will also be increased from £85 to £100.