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Mr. Norris : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will list the number of professionally qualified loss prevention staff employed by his Department and the qualifications held by such staff, excluding qualifications obtained during police or military service.
Mr. Wakeham : The Department's policy is that staff in its internal audit branch are professionally qualified. Currently there are five fully qualified Members of the Institute of Internal Auditors (MIIA) and five under training.
Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether electricity supplied to English boards from Scottish Power and Scottish Hydro Electric will qualify as part of the non-fossil fuel obligation of the respective English companies ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry : The interconnectors between England and Scotland are used for electricity trading in both directions. Because of this, electricity supplied through the interconnectors will not qualify for inclusion in the non-fossil fuel obligation.
Mr. Wakeham : Prices of petrol and diesel (derv) from 1972 are published in table 66 of the "Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics 1989". The latest monthly prices are published in "Energy Trends" (table 21).
The Prime Minister : The final work on EC decisions lies with member states in the Council of Ministers, who remain accountable to national Parliaments. The European Council in Strasbourg in December 1989 emphasised the need to ensure the proper observances of democratic control in each of the member states.
Q136. Dr. Godman : To ask the Prime Minister what is the Government's policy towards the European Community decision to provide a loan of 1 billion ecu to Hungary to help overcome structural adjustment problems ; and whether any conditions have been imposed in terms of democratisation of political institutions in that country.
The Prime Minister : In the communique issued at our meeting in Strasbourg on 8 and 9 December, I and fellow EC Heads of Government referred to Hungary's need for an adjustment loan of $1 billion. EC Governments are now negotiating its terms and conditions. The United Kingdom would welcome additional contributions by non-Community countries. The loan will be conditional on a firm IMF programme of economic reform and adjustment. A central principle of all our assistance to eastern Europe is the encouragement of democracy and economic reform.
Column 725The Prime Minister : The British Council is doing a splendid job projecting our culture overseas. I have received no particular representations recently, but the demands placed on the council are increasing, especially now from east European countries, and I am glad that the Government have been able to increase their grant substantially for the second successive year.
Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Prime Minister if she will list the ground rules that Ministers must observe in their use of local and regional newspaper articles when referring to the community charge ; and if she will make a statement.
The Prime Minister : Ministerial articles on Government policy, when issued through Government Departments, are subject to the Cabinet Office guidance and conventions on Government publicity. When written in a party political capacity they are not. A copy of the guidance and conventions is in the Library of the House.
Mr. Wigley : To ask the Prime Minister if during her recent meeting with the President of Mexico she discussed (a) the forthcoming fourth review conference of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and (b) the policies being developed by Mexico as part of the Non-Aligned Group of 77 towards nuclear non-proliferation and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
The Prime Minister : Allegations from a variety of sources concerning the Kincora Boys' hostel have been thoroughly investigated by successive inquiries conducted by the Royal Ulster Constabulary, by Sir George Terry and by Judge Hughes. Attempts were made to persuade Mr. Wallace to co-operate with these injuries, but without success. If Mr. Wallace has allegations that he wishes to press about criminal activity or other wrongdoing in Northern Ireland, the best way for him to deal with this is to give any information in his possession to the RUC in the first instance. If this information is classified, he should first consult the Director of Army Security.
The Prime Minister : This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today, including one with the President-elect of Brazil.
Mr. Gummer : Two Government-sponsored reports published recently give, for the first time, a clear picture of farm diversification in the United Kingdom. These reports show that about one third of the farmers who responded have developed some form of farm diversified business activity. This result gives a clear demonstration of the success of the Government's policy in this area.
16. Mr. Colin Shepherd : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to review the level of compensation to farmers for the slaughter of cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
33. Mr. Tredinnick : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received recently concerning mad cow disease ; whether he is contemplating any further action ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Maclean : I have received a variety of representations about bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The Government have introduced a comprehensive package of measures to tackle the disease and to eliminate the remote risk to public health.
Column 727transmission of BSE occurs. However, because of the long incubation period, results may not be available for several years.
58. Mr. Key : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a further statement about bovine spongiform encephalopathy containment measures and associated compensation arrangements.
Mr. Maclean : The probable cause of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was through the feeding of ruminant-derived protein. This practice was banned from July 1988. In addition, from August 1988 all cattle suspected of having BSE have been compulsorily slaughtered and their carcases burned or buried. The owners are compensated for the loss of animals at 50 per cent. of the value for cases confirmed on post mortem as BSE-infected and at 100 per cent. of the value where BSE is not confirmed.
However, the compensation element is not the mechanism designed to contain BSE or to prevent it becoming a risk to human health. The slaughter policy and removal of specific offals from all bovine animals does that.
Mr. Skinner : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has any further plans to discuss with agricultural interests the subject of bovine spongiform encephalopathy ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer : The reformed sheepmeat regime offers excellent opportunities to the United Kingdom sheep sector, including hill producers many of whom will also benefit from the increased HLCA payments I announced last week.
Mr. Maclean : The state veterinary service has a wide range of duties including the control of animal disease of economic and public health significance, animal welfare and the import and export of live animals and their products.
They are also involved in food safety on the farm and in the slaughterhouse.
Mr. Maclean : The state veterinary service currently employs 427 veterinary surgeons. It is likely that this number will increase particularly for food safety work including meat hygiene. This was recognised in the recent review of veterinary manpower under the chairmanship of Dr. Ewan Page.
Mr. Maclean : Since its inception in 1865 the state veterinary service has dealt successfully with many outbreaks of farm animal disease of both economic and public health significance. It continues to do so today. In addition, its responsibilities include animal welfare and the import and export of live animals and their products. It also undertakes important research and development work.
Mr. Maclean : All pesticides approved prior to 1981 are to be reviewed. Approval holders are providing information relative to their products and will be required to submit full data packages covering safety for the operator, the consumer and for the environment. Where data packages are not provided within an agreed period approvals will be withdrawn. Reviews will be undertaken in an order to be determined by the Advisory Committee on Pesticides.
22. Mr. Ian Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to exploit the intellectual property of his Department to provide additional resources for research.
46. Mr. David Davis : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to exploit the intellectual property of his Department to provide additional resources for research.
Mr. Gummer : An intellectual property liaison unit has been established within my Department. Its task is to facilitate the identification, legal protection, marketing and sale of intellectual property and usage of returns therefrom.
Mr. Curry : Conservation of fish stocks in the North sea is a high priority. At the December Fisheries Council we took tough decisions to have a much lower total allowable catches (TACs) in 1990 by key stocks. We have sent the Commission a paper setting out possible further technical conservation measures. We will participate strongly in the high-level working group called by the Council to intensify discussions on conservation measures in the North sea. Success has been achieved. The herring stock has recovered from the low levels of 10 years ago and exceptional measures taken by the European Community in 1989 to protect the 1987 year class of sole has meant that a considerably higher TAC is possible this year.
Mr. Gummer : A total of 1,512 farms in England, and a further 156 in Wales remain subject to Livestock restrictions. The Government are doing everything possible to scale down the restrictions as quickly as possible consistent with the need to ensure that the food chain remains fully protected.
34. Mr. John P. Smith : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will introduce an indemnity scheme for farmers suffering financial loss as a result of lead contamination in animal feed.
55. Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make it his policy to compensate farmers in full for losses resulting from the supply of lead-contaminated feeding stuffs.
Mr. Gummer : I have no such plans. There is no statutory provision for Government compensation in such cases. Liability is a matter for the courts to decide in the light of the contractual obligations of feed suppliers, or others, towards individual farmers. I understand that the National Farmers Union has established a co-ordinated procedure which it hopes will assist farmers wishing to pursue claims. The Milk Marketing Board has made loans available to affected milk producers pending a resolution of the issues of liability and costs of disposal. In addition I met senior representatives of the major banks towards the end of last year to explain the situation and to urge them to take a sympathetic view where farmers find themselves with immediate cash flow problems.
Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans the Government have to remove restrictions on movements of sheep as a result of the lead contaminated feed episode.
Until recently, the conditions applying to the release of animals for slaughter under livestock release scheme III had the practical effect of preventing sheep which received contaminated feed from being sold for slaughter. However, as I announced on 1 February, the results of our monitoring and research programme have enabled us to ease significantly the restrictions applying under scheme III. As a result, sheep can now be released for slaughter subject to conditions designed to ensure that liver and kidney do not go for human consumption.
We have also reintroduced scheme II which may allow the further release of groups of sheep which did not receive contaminated feed. Our monitoring and research programme is continuing and the remaining restrictions will be removed as soon as it is safe to do so.
Column 731Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress he is making towards introducing a scientific programme on contaminated animals to test lead levels in offal and bones, with a view to releasing animals still under restrictions ; what investigations he has made of Dutch practices in testing and with what result ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Maclean : A monitoring and research programme was begun as soon as the seriousness of the feed contamination incident became apparent in early November. The results obtained so far, which I published on 1 February, have enabled restrictions to be lifted on bone and all offal except kidney and liver. Scientific work is continuing and as soon as results show that it is safe to do so I shall remove all remaining restrictions. Close touch has been maintained with the Dutch authorities throughout this incident and information has been exchanged on a regular basis.
26. Mr. Donald Thompson : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he proposes to take in response to the representations he has received on the import of parrots and other exotic animals.
Mr. Gummer : Measures were announced in a reply given to the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) on 20 December 1989, at column 350. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary has since written to airlines stressing the need for proper care in transporting birds, and officials have met conservation and welfare organisations. Visits by veterinary staff to major exporting countries and further meetings are being arranged. The review of post-import quarantine arrangements is continuing.
Mr. Curry : We have ensured that the European Community Commission is in no doubt about the importance we attach to our right to permit farmers to market uneviscerated poultry. We shall oppose any proposal which might seek to prohibit this.
28. Mr. Geraint Howells : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent discussions he has had on the present state of the agricultural industry ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gummer : I have frequent discussions with a range of organisations on the state of the agricultural industry. Most recently, I met representatives of the National Farmers Union, the Scottish National Farmers Union and the Ulster Farmers Union on 30 January to discuss the state of the industry and the European Commission's price proposals.
representatives of the National Farmers Union, the Scottish National Farmers Union, and the Ulster Farmers Union on 30 January to discuss the state of the industry and the European Commission's price proposals.