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Column 847Mr. Kevin Alfred Shaw
Mrs. Mary Ross Shephard MBE
Mr. John Anthony Siggs
Mr. Basil J. Silver
Mr. John Desmond Spence
Mrs. Susanne Hilary Spence
Councillor Mrs. Elizabeth Eleanor Still JP BA MPhil
Mr. Peter Henry Thompson
Mr. Thoman Anthony Twigg
Mr. Charles W. Wharton
Mrs. Sheila Kathleen Wormleighton
Mr. John Barrett Wright
Mr. Soames : Directive 91/628/EEC on the protection of animals during transport requires each member state to bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the directive.
Mr. Morley : To ask the Minister of agriculture, Fisheries and Food what instructions are given to her veterinary department for checking that (i) journey times for farm animals to be exported from the United Kingdom are properly completed, (ii) that such animals are fit to travel and (iii) animals being exported for slaughter in Spain are being sent to abbattoris which comply with the EU directive requiring animals to be stunned before slaughter ; how many times since 1 January 1993 her veterinary department has failed to follow these instructions ; and what steps she has taken to ensure that future failures will be avoided.
Mr. Soames : All farm animals sent to another member state are inspected for fitness to travel by a veterinary surgeon appointed by the Government. For journeys likely to take more than 15 hours the exporter is required to submit to the Department in writing the arrangements which have been made to rest, feed and water the animals.
The Government lifted the restrictions on exports to Spain in January 1993 after an agreement had been reached with the Spanish authorities to send animals only to those abattoirs which they have confirmed to be applying Community welfare rules. In December the Government agreed further safeguards with the Spanish authorities. Details of all consignments are sent to Spain so the authorities may check that animals arrive at the destinations declared by British exporters. No consignments of animals have been sent to Spain for slaughter this year.
On two occasions last year consignments were exported where the agreed procedures, to ensure that the slaughterhouses of destination were on the approved list, were not followed. This was due to a regrettable error. The procedures for authorising all export journeys have been reviewed and fresh instructions have been issued to the state veterinary service.
Mr. Mills : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what action she is taking in her communications with the European Commission to prevent the subsidies given by certain EC member countries on the production of pig meat ; and if she will make a statement ;
(2) what representations she has received about the difficulties being experienced by United Kingdom pig producers due to the dumping of exported pig meat by France, Netherlands, Germany and Denmark.
Mr. Jack : We have received representations from hon. Members on behalf of constituents and from individual pig producers and their representative bodies. I will shortly be meeting the British Pig Association. They are all concerned about the state of the European Community pigmeat market and allegations of illegal national aids in some member states.
The current low prices are caused by high levels of supply on the pigmeat market resulting from industry expansion in most member states, including the United Kingdom. Prices are low throughout the single market.
Although there are rumours of illegal aids to pig producers in other member states, we only have firm evidence in respect of a scheme in France. My right hon. Friend has written to the European Commission twice urging that an early decision be made on the legal status of this aid in accordance with article 93 of the treaty and that the appropriate action then be taken. She has also twice raised the matter in the Council of Ministers and the United Kingdom delegation has raised it at every pigmeat management committee from September.
Mr. Morley : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what research her Department has commissioned into the correlation between the incidence of BSE and the use of organophosphorous pesticides.
Mr. Soames : When BSE was first indentified in 1986 a detailed epidemiological investigation was carried out to identify possible sources of the disease. This included an examination of any possible correlation betweeen BSE and exposure of cattle to organophophorus compounds but it was concluded, on the basis of those studies, that there was no such correlation and that the only positive correlation to be found was in relation to animal feed which contained ruminant protein. This resulted in the ban on the feeding of ruminant protein to ruminants in July 1988 which has now resulted in a marked decline in the incidence of the disease in younger animals and an overall 15 per cent. decline in the number of cases reported compared with the same period last year.
In January scientists from the Department, the Department of Health and the Agriculture and Food Research Council met Mr. Purdey to consider his views on the role of organophosphorus in the origins of the BSE epidemic and had a full discussion with him on the evidence that he put forward. Although it was agreed to consider some of the points covered in more detail, no formal research has been commissioned as a result of that very recent meeting.
Column 849were placed under restriction by a Ministry veterinarian in respect of which the restrictions were subsequently cancelled by another Ministry veterinarian, for each month, from February 1992 to November 1993 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Soames : The numbers of suspect cases of BSE in Great Britain which were placed under restrictions by Ministry veterinary officers, and from which restrictions were subsequently removed, from February 1992 to November 1993 are as follows :
Month of report |Number ------------------------------------------------ February 1992 |127 March 1992 |146 April 1992 |145 May 1992 |153 June 1992 |159 July 1992 |125 August 1992 |143 September 1992 |173 October 1992 |142 November 1992 |119 December 1992 |146 January 1993 |118 February 1993 |142 March 1993 |202 April 1993 |197 May 1993 |181 June 1993 |144 July 1993 |128 August 1993 |148 September 1993 |153 October 1993 |136 November 1993 |133
The information as to whether restrictions were lifted by a different Ministry veterinary officer to the one by whom they were served could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
The annual fluctuations in the rate at which restrictions are lifted reflect farm management practices which precipitate the onset of diseases with some clinical signs that are similar to those of BSE, but where treatment results in recovery.
Mr. Soames : From 1991 to 1993 inclusive, 111,878 cattle have been slaughtered in Great Britain because BSE was suspected. In the same period 963 cattle in which BSE was suspected died while under restrictions or between report to the Ministry and examination by a veterinary officer.
Mr. Soames : Because of delays following the introduction of the Intrastat system details of the total numbers of live animals exported in 1993 are not yet available. It is not possible to say when they will become available, but when they do I shall write to the hon. Member.
Mr. Jack : I set out in a previous reply on 14 February at col. 586 the steps that I and my hon. Friend have taken to help our fishermen and exporters maintain their access to the French market in the face of the disgraceful intimidation to which they have been subjected. I look to the European Commission to scrutinise the compatibility of the French government's new aid package with the rules on state aids.
Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many different species of whales currently exist ; and what assessment she has made of the adequacy of the measures available to protect them.
Mr. Jack : There are at least 78 species of cetaceans currently in existence, of which 12 are commonly referred to as "great" whales. Under European Community legislation there is a de facto ban on commercial whaling within the Community. Globally, responsibility for the conservation of whales rests with the International Whaling Commission where the United Kingdom works actively to secure effective measures for the conservation and protection of all whale species and strongly supports the current moratorium on commercial whaling.
Mr. Jack : We have already pressed the Commission on the need for a transferable banana quota for the Windward Islands. This is not, however, provided for in the Council regulation establishing the EC bananas regime. If changes in that regulation become necessary we shall continue to seek quota transferability between the Windward Islands.
Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will press for the implementation of the guarantees enshrined in protocol IV, of Lome IV for the banana producers of the Caribbean.
Mr. Jack : The EC bananas regime negotiated under the United Kingdom presidency already ensures access for imports of bananas from the Caribbean and from other African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) producers into the Community in accordance with the provisions of the Lome convention.
Mrs. Bridget Prentice : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when she last met representatives of the organic farming lobby to discuss the implementation of the organic aid scheme in England.
Mr. Jack : My right hon. Friend last met representatives of the organic farming movement on 15 November 1993. It was agreed that there should be further discussions with officials and another ministerial meeting in the spring concentrating on the role of organic farming in relation to reform of the European Community's common agricultural policy.
Mr. Ainger : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when her Department received from the Department of the Environment draft guidelines prepared by the sea mammal research unit on precautions to minimise acoustic disturbance to small cetaceans ; which bodies or organisations it has consulted or asked to comment on the guidelines ; and what plans she has to consult non-governmental bodies on the guidelines.
Mr. Jack : A preliminary draft of the guidelines was made available to MAFF officials on 13 December 1993. A working party established by the Department of the Environment is currently preparing a further draft which will be discussed by other Government Departments with an interest in seismic testing and the agreement on the conservation of small cetaceans of the Baltic and North sea. At that stage, as the Minister for the Environment and Countryside explained to the hon. Member on 28 January at column 341, a decision will be taken on whether to consult more widely.
Mr. Soames : The Lebrecht review of the department's animal health and veterinary group, which includes the state veterinary service, is concerned with its management, and it is not appropriate to publish its recommendations. However, staff and other interested parties will be consulted about any consequential changes my right hon. Friend is minded to make.
Mr. Sims : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans she has to raise with the Polish Government their application of high tariff levels and restrictive quotas on imported spirits.
My Department has a close working relationship with the drinks industry both through its trade associations and through many individual producers. The question of high tariff levels on certain spirits imported into Poland has been a concern of the
industry--particularly Scotch whisky producers--for some time and it is an issue which we have raised with the Polish government on a number of occasions in the past. The issue of restrictive quotas is a relatively new one and my Department has asked the European Commission to take this up in the context of the EC/Poland association agreement. My Department will continue to give its full support to the industry in its representations to the Polish administration.
Column 852Chairman :
J. G. Hunter
Non-Executive Members :
Mrs. A. Curran
J. A. Doris
T. J. Frawley
Mrs. S. Hillen
P. G. Kinder
Dr. M. P. J. Kilbane
P. B. Linehan
D. D. Smyth
Dr. J. Wilson
Eastern Health and Social Services Council--
Mr. P. Stout
Councillor Rev. W. J. Beattie
Councillor D. Browne
Mrs. Alderman B. M. Chambers
Councillor R. Cleland
Councillor D. Dow
Councillor Mrs. D. E. Field
Councillor K. McCarthy
Councillor G. Morrison
Councilor J. Ritchie
Councillor J. Rodgers
Councillor H. Smith
Councillor R. T. Stewart
Mrs. M. G. Bennett
Rev. W. S. Callaghan
Mr. C. Common
Ms M. E. Connolly
Mrs. D. M. Copeland
Mrs. M. Horner
Mr. J. J. Mallon
Ms C. M. McCavana
Mrs. M. McMullan
Mr. B. O'Reilly
Mr. M. Piggot
Mr. E. P. Rafferty
Mrs. E. A. Rea
Dr. M. Swallow
Mrs. E. Thompson
Mr. M. B. Weir
Miss M. Wilson
Northern Health and Social Services Council--
Mr. R. Pinkerton
Mrs. Alderman P. E. A. Armitage
Councillor A. F. Beggs
Councillor Mrs. J. M. I. Drummond
Councillor D. Haughey
Mr. Alderman S. C. Henry
Councillor D. Hollis
Councillor R. F. Kerr
Councillor W. J. Logan
Councillor S. D. McClelland
Councillor P. H. McErlean
Mrs. M. Dodds
Mr. J. A. Dougherty
Mr. H. Ewing
Mr. D. Francis
Miss M. H. Gilmore
Mrs. M. McCollum
Mr. J. McA. Pollock
Mrs. P. M. Probst
Mr. A. Reynolds