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Mrs. Gillian Shephard : Neither MAFF nor the Intervention Board executive agency, which administers the school milk scheme, have any information on how local authorities have covered the deficiency in their accounts created by the reduction in funding following the 25 per cent. cut in the rate of subsidy.

Dr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the administrative costs of (a) distributing milk through the school milk scheme and (b) alternative provision for disposing of milk.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : The administrative costs for the Intervention Board executive agency and the


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Department of Education for Northern Ireland in distributing milk through the school milk scheme were £134,871.80 for the financial year 1993-94. There is no information available on the administrative costs incurred by local authorities. The costs of alternative provisions for disposing of milk not taken up under the school milk scheme would depend on the products into which this milk was manufactured, the volumes involved and the disposal method used. The cost of disposing of one tonne of milk in the form of butter or skimmed milk powder is estimated at around £96.

Dr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food who is responsible for the disbursement of funds for the school milk scheme.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : Responsibility for the disbursement of funds for the school milk scheme rests with the Intervention Board executive agency in Great Britain and the Department of Education for Northern Ireland in the Province.

Dr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many tonnes of milk and other products eligible for the school milk scheme were consumed in (a) the 12 school weeks prior to and (b) 12 school weeks after the removal of buttermilk and cheese from the scheme, (c) the 12 school sitting weeks before and (d) the 12 school sitting weeks after the reduction in funding for the scheme was effected.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : There is no information available on a 12- weekly basis on tonnages of milk and milk products consumed under the school g term 1993, immediately prior to the removal of buttermilk and cheese from the scheme on 1 April 1993. A total of 30, 621,821.121 tonnes of eligible milk and milk products, for which subsidy was claimed, were consumed in the school term, summer term 1993, immediately following the removal of buttermilk and cheese from the scheme on 1 April 1993.

Similarly, there is no information available on a 12 weekly basis on changes in consumption before and after the 25 per cent. cut in the subsidy and the technical amendments were introduced. No information will be available until claims for the period have been received.

Dr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will chart any changes in the local authority spending on milk and other products eligible for the school milk scheme in (a) the 12 school sitting weeks before and 12 school sitting weeks after the removal of buttermilk and cheese from the school milk scheme and (b) the 12 school sitting weeks before and 12 school sitting weeks after the reduction in funding for the school milk scheme was effected.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : No information is available on a 12-weekly basis to enable changes in local authority spending before and after removal of buttermilk and cheese from the school milk scheme to be monitored, nor on the changes following the 25 per cent. cut in the subsidy and the technical amendments introduced on 1 January 1994. Local authority spending on eligible milk and milk products during the term, spring 1993, prior to the removal


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of buttermilk and cheese from the scheme on 1 April 1993 and the term after, summer 1993, decreased by £4,360,333.99. No information on changes in spending before and after 1 January 1994 will be available until claims for the period have been received.

Dr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will list the local authorities which since 4 October 1993 have (a) increased, (b) reduced and (c) left unchanged their provision of subsidised school drinking milk and other eligible products under the school milk scheme as part of a school meal.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : No information will be available on changes in uptake by local authorities under the school milk scheme following the 25 per cent. cut in the subsidy and the technical amendments to the scheme, introduced on 1 January 1994, until claims for the period have been received.

Set-aside

Mr. Willets : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what further steps she is taking to encourage the positive management of set-aside to benefit the countryside environment.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : I support the positive environmental management of set-aside. I have today placed in the Library of the House a handbook entitled "Managing Set-Aside Land for Wildlife". This publication is the result of work commissioned by my Department from the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology to investigate the possibilities of using set-aside land to create or restore wildlife habitats. We have drawn on many of its conclusions in setting the management conditions for set-aside under the arable area payments scheme, and I hope that farmers and conservation advisers will find it equally helpful.

Vintners Company

Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food who are the members of the wine standards board of the Vintners Company.

Mr. Jack : The members of the wine standards board of the Vintners Company are :

Mr. P. J. Purton (Chairman)

Dr. A. T. Woodrow

Ms C. Kent

Mr. A. Foster

Mr. P. M. Boyling

Brigadier G. Read CBE

The board is funded jointly by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Vintners Company.

Regional Flood Defence Committees

Mr. Morley : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which organisations she has consulted to seek nominations for membership of regional flood defence committees of the National Rivers Authority of people who have expertise in hydrology, coastal processes, town and country planning, emergency planning, financial management, fisheries, recreation and the built heritage.

Mr. Jack : The following organisations were invited to submit nominations :


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Association of Drainage Authorities

Confederation of British Industry

Country Landowners Association

National Chambers of Commerce

National Farmers Union

Transport and General Workers Union

In addition English Nature and the Countryside Commission were asked to submit a joint list after consultation with other environmental and conservation bodies. Candidates were also sought from the central list held by the public appointments unit of the Cabinet Office.

The objective is to reflect a range of interests in the ministerial appointments to each committee, having regard to the expertise provided by those committee members appointed by local authorities and by the National Rivers Authority.

Baby and Infant Milks

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the definition of independent person, name of preparatory infant formulae and brand name as used in European Commission directives 91/321 and 92/52.

Mr. Soames : Neither Commission directive 91/321 nor Council directive 92/52 on infant formulae and follow-on formulae define such terms. Any interpretation of these terms where used in the law would be a matter for the courts.

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will extend the ban on advertising of baby milks and the giving of free samples to include follow-on milks and specialised baby formulae for infants under one.

Mr. Soames : The Government are currently reviewing the comments received during the consultation exercise on the proposed United Kingdom regulations on infant formulae and follow-on formulae to implement the relevant EC directives. Our decision on the final form of the regulations will be announced as soon as possible.

Wine

Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will state (a) the price at which British wholesalers buy wine per 75 cl bottle, (b) what she estimates the price of wine per bottle would be in a free market without European Community price intervention, (c) the levels of European Community production and consumption of wine, (d) the level of common agricultural policy expenditure on wine subsidies and (e) the cost to the British Exchequer of European Community intervention in the wine sector.

Mr. Jack : The price at which British wholesalers buy wine is a matter for commercial negotiation and varies by consignment. It is not possible to estimate the price of wine without European Community price intervention for the reasons given in my reply to the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Grocott) on 11 January at columns 65-6.

The European Commission estimates that European Community wine production in the 1992-93 wine year was 184 million

hectolitres--mhl--that 127 mhl was consumed as wine in the EC, net exports were 7 mhl and other uses--for example, vinegar, vermouth and eaux de vie-- 15 mhl.


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Total common agricultural policy expenditure in 1993 on the wine regime was 1,510 million ecu--£1,186 million-- provisional outturn. The Exchequer cost of CAP support for wine in the United Kingdom is estimated at £591,000 for the 1993-94 financial year. The United Kingdom also contributes to the European Community budget as a whole, which funds the cost of the wine support system in other member states.

Flood Defence Committees

Mr. Morley : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many MAFF-appointed members of regional flood defence committees of the National Rivers Authority receive direct or indirect pecuniary benefits from the flood defence operations of the National Rivers Authority.

Mr. Jack : The terms of appointment of ministerial members draw attention to the provisions referred to in paragraph 14 of schedule 4 to the Water Resources Act 1991 whereby if a member or his or her spouse has any pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, in a contract, proposed contract or other matter which is to be considered at a meeting of the committee at which the member is present, the member must disclose the fact and refrain from taking any part in the proceedings relating to that contract or other matter. In addition, members are requested to avoid any conflict of interest between their RFDC responsibilities and any personal or business interests.

Soil Erosion

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what advice her Department gives to farmers to avoid soil erosion in flash floods.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : My Department published the code of good agricultural practice for the protection of soil in December last year.

The code provides practical guidance to help farmers and growers avoid causing long-term damage to the soil and specifically deals with techniques to combat soil erosion caused by water.

Copies of the soil code have been placed in the Library of the House.

DEFENCE

Helicopters

11. Mr. McGrady : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effects of low-flying helicopters on animal livestock in Northern Ireland ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hanley : Low-flying helicopters have been accepted as the cause of claims from farmers for dead or injured livestock, resulting on a number of occasions in the payment of compensation.

Ceremonial and Guard Duty

17. Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much ceremonial and guard duty is required of how many horses and troops ; at what average annual cost ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hanley : Ceremonial and guards duties are currently undertaken primarily on a full-time basis by 824


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Army and Royal Air Force personnel at an estimated cost in 1993-94 of £18,650,000. Included in this sum is the cost of 362 horses involved in mounted duties.

Bosnia

18. Mr. Thomason : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to revisit Bosnia to examine the conditions of British troops.

Mr. Rifkind : I maintain a close interest in the conditions under which British forces are deployed in Bosnia. I make regular visits there, most recently last month, and I was particularly impressed, as are we all, by the dedication and courage demonstrated by our forces in carrying out their work under difficult and dangerous conditions.

Ferranti

19. Mr. Bayley : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consequences Ferranti's decision to call in the receiver has had for Britain's armed services.

Mr. Aitken : The receivership of Ferranti International has had no consequences of any significance for the armed forces. The receivers are continuing to trade, and my Department has co-operated fully with them to avoid disruption to MOD contracts.

Women Personnel

20. Mr. David Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the defence relationship with the American armed forces and on the implications of their policy on women personnel for the United Kingdom services and on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Mr. Hanley : The United Kingdom's defence relationship with the American armed forces is wide ranging and involves frequent contacts at all levels. The American armed forces' policy on the employment of female personnel is unlikely to have any material implications for the United Kingdom armed forces.

Expenditure

21. Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the difference in real terms between the planned level of defence spending in 1994-95 and the actual expenditure in (a) 1985 and (b) 1990.

Mr. Hanley : Details of previous and planned defence spending between 1978-79 and 1996-97 are contained in table 3.3 of the statistical supplement to the "Financial Statement and Budget Report", 1994-95, Cm 2519, which was published on 25 February.

Contracting Out

22. Sir Thomas Arnold : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his policy towards contracting out RAF engineering and maintenance work.

Mr. Aitken : Engineering and maintenance activities in support of the Royal Air Force are currently being drawn together as part of the new RAF Logistics Command, which will come into being with effect from 1 April 1994.


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However, as the House knows, the defence costs study "Front Line First" is examining the whole of the defence support area to ensure that current plans provide the most cost-effective approach to supporting the front line, and its recommendations are awaited.

D-day

23. Mr. Willetts : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role his Department is playing in planning the celebration of the 50th anniversary of D-day.

Mr. Hanley : My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence is chairing the steering group responsible for co- ordinating the United Kingdom's involvement in the D-day commemorations.

Personnel Reductions

24. Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what has been the percentage cut in the regular armed forces and in the reserves since "Options for Change" ; and what reductions are planned for the next five years.

Mr. Hanley : Between 1 April 1990 and 1 January 1994, the total strengths of the regular and volunteer reserve forces reduced by 15.6 per cent. and 14.5 per cent. respectively. On current plans, a further reduction of 5.1 per cent. in the strength of the regular forces will be made by 1 April 1995. These figures exclude the former Ulster Defence Regiment, which was part of the volunteer reserve forces until it formed the home service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment on 1 July 1992 and became part of the regular forces. At the present time, it is not possible to forecast any further changes in the manpower levels in the regular or volunteer reserve forces.

Space-based Missiles

25. Mr. David Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his NATO counterparts on space- based missile defence.

Mr. Hanley : There have been no recent NATO ministerial discussions on space-based missile defence but the overall issue of ballistic missile defence remains under regular review and this includes regular discussion at official level within NATO.

Battle Tanks

26. Mr. Clelland : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many main battle tanks will be in service with the British Army by the end of the century.

27. Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many main battle tanks will be in service with the British Army by the end of the century.

Mr. Aitken : One hundred and twenty-seven Challenger 2 tanks are already on order from Vickers Defence Systems. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced to the House of Commons Defence Committee on 1 December, subject to the negotiation of satisfactory contractual terms we intend to place a further order for up to 259 more of these tanks. The number of main battle tanks that will be in service with the British Army by the end of the century will therefore be up to 386.


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Yugoslavia

28. Sir Michael Neubert : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armed services personnel are currently serving offshore and on the ground in former Yugoslavia.

Mr. Hanley : There are currently some 2,260 armed forces personnel serving in the Adriatic and some 2,450 on the ground in the former Yugoslavia. In addition, some 650 Royal Air Force personnel are based in Italy in support of United Nations and NATO air operations in theatre.

Peacekeeping Forces

29. Dr. Michael Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the cost of Britain's peacekeeping forces worldwide ; and what proportion of this cost is reimbursed from the United Nations.

Mr. Hanley : United Kingdom military personnel have been involved in five United Nations peacekeeping operations during the financial year 1993- 94 ; the additional cost is likely to total between £100, 000,000-- £110,000,000. Reimbursement from the United Nations for the same period so far amounts to £23,000,000. The United Kingdom stands to claim up to a further £25,000,000, subject to other member states paying their assessed contributions.

10 Squadron

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 14 January 1994, Official Report, column 347, if he will place in the Library copies of the criteria used for determining repayment charges for non-defence tasks carried out by 10 Squadron ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hanley : I will write to the hon. Member.

Rosyth Naval Base

Ms Rachel Squire : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what is the cost involved in the change of task at Rosyth naval base in terms of redundancies and associated costs for civilians and the transfer of naval personnel ;

(2) what are the numbers involved in the change in task of Rosyth to a minor war vessels operating base for both civilian and royal naval personnel as at (a) July 1991, (b) January 1994 and (c) completion of change of task to a minor war vessels operating base ; (3) if he will provide an update on the annual savings over five years expected from the change in task at Rosyth naval base ; (4) if he will make it his policy that the social and economic implications of changes at Rosyth will be taken fully into account during the current review ;

(5) if he will place in the Library a copy of the terms of reference for the studies regarding minor war vessel base porting being carried out at Rosyth, Plymouth Devonport and Portsmouth.

Mr. Aitken : I refer the hon. Lady to my letter of 3 March 1994 ; a copy of which is being placed in the Library of the House.

Ms Rachel Squire : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the annual value for the past five years


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of refit, docking and essential defects and other work carried out by Rosyth royal dockyard on minor war vessels based at Rosyth and elsewhere ; and what percentage this represents of the total shipwork expenditure on minor war vessels.

Mr. Aitken : The annual value of refit, docking and essential defects and other work carried out by Rosyth royal dockyard over the past five years on minor war vessels is set out :


!

£ million                        

           |At outturn           

           |prices               

---------------------------------

1989-90    |26.57                

1990-91    |27.18                

1991-92    |25.73                

1992-93    |21.54                

1993-94    |<1>23.17             

<1>Estimate.                     

Some minor war vessel work is undertaken by the fleet maintenance groups at the naval bases. Since these organisations are capacity funded, not all costs arising out of minor war vessel work are attributed to this task. It is, therefore, not possible to establish a meaningful percentage comparison with the total shipwork expenditure on minor war vessels. However, broad indications are that in 1992-93 the figure was around 60 per cent. and the estimate for the current financial year is around 80 per cent.

Ms Rachel Squire : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the Government's assessment of the resulting unemployment rates in Dunfermline and Fife if the Rosyth naval base were to be closed as a result of the current review.

Mr. Aitken : No decisions on the defence costs study have been taken, nor will they be until Ministers have been presented with the findings of the study as a whole. It is too early to speculate about the outcome of this work.

Ms Rachel Squire : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many redundant personnel formerly employed at Rosyth naval base have used the redundancy counselling and relocation service provided by British Coal Enterprise ; and how many of these have gained employment as a result.

Mr. Hanley : Between 12 October 1992 and 28 February 1994, of the 92 employees who registered with British Coal Enterprise, 81 subsequently attended outplacement training. Of this number, 75 decided to pursue full- time employment in the area. To date, 41 have found new jobs and four, who were provided with additional specialised training, are now self-employed. Of the 30 still seeking employment, 15 remain employed at Rosyth naval base.

Defence Costs Study

Ms Rachel Squire : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what plans he has to establish an overall strategy for dealing with the restructuring process arising from the defence costs study ; and if he will make it his policy to take into account the social and economic impact on the communities involved ;

(2) what mechanisms are in place for the restructuring of military establishments and the use of redundant assets : and what assessment he has made of the work done to date.


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Mr. Aitken : The defence costs study is examining all aspects of support to the front line. One aim of the study is to develop proposals for change that will ensure that assets employed in defence support areas are not under-utilised.

It is too early to speculate about the outcome of this work, but all relevant factors will be taken into account.

Recruitment

Ms Rachel Squire : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will provide details of current levels of naval recruitment from Scotland and the north of England ; and what were the expressed first base preferences for (a) Rosyth and (b) Faslane.


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