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Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will state on the basis of valuation of assets, in cash terms at current prices, the minimum rate of return sought by the Treasury from Railtrack in each of the next five years.

Mr. Freeman : Railtrack will be set a target rate of return on capital of 8 per cent, to be achieved over its first four years of business. Discussions are continuing with Railtrack on the setting of initial financial targets, including the opening required rate of return on capital.


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Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will describe the basis on which the assets passing to Railtrack have been valued.

Mr. Freeman : In common with other public sector undertakings, Railtrack's assets will be valued on a modern equivalent asset value basis. The valuation will reflect the existing condition of assets and the cost of continuing to provide capacity broadly equivalent to that provided now.

Marine Pollution

Mr. Elletson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the number of reported incidents in the Irish sea involving marine pollution from shipping indicating (a) the number investigated, (b) the number involved in legal proceedings and (c) the number resulting in prosecution.

Mr. Norris : Over the last three years the Department of Transport's marine pollution control unit has received the following number of reports of pollution in the Irish sea :


       |Number       

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

1991   |50           

1992   |42           

1993   |54           

The majority of these reports will have been related to bilge or tank washings with no ship being identified.

All incidents were followed up by MPCU and investigated where appropriate. The following number of port state control inspections was requested.


       |Number       

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

1991   |1            

1992   |1            

1993   |2            

In 1991, one vessel was referred to the flag state for further investigation by the relevant competent authority, who subsequently decided that there was insufficient evidence upon which to effect a prosecution.

Heavy Goods Vehicles

Mr. Clifton-Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to amend the regulations to allow traffic commissioners to take into account suitability of the immediate local road network before determining a heavy goods operators licence application.

Mr. Key : A licensing authority is able to take into account the suitability of the junction of an operating centre with a public road, and also the suitability of any private road between the operating centre and the public road. The suitability of any public roads in the vicinity is a matter for the local highway authority. In determining whether an operating centre is environmentally suitable, however, the licensing authority may also take into account the local environmental effect of vehicles travelling to and from the operating centre. We have no plans to change this.


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Diesel Fuel Duty

Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received from the Bus and Coach Council regarding changes in the amount of rebate received in respect of diesel fuel duty following the Budget ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeman : My right hon. Friend has recently discussed with the Bus and Coach Council the initial impact of the changes in fuel duty rebate following the Budget and has undertaken to consider carefully its detailed analysis when it has been produced.

M25

Mrs. Lait : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of traffic on the M25 is using that route in preference to the south coast route.

Mr. Key : About 2 per cent. of traffic on the M25 is estimated to be using that route in preference to the A27/A259 south coast trunk route.

A1

Mr. Duncan : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the statutory provisions on his Department's highways powers which would allow him to consider including a bypass for the villages of Wymondham and Thistleton in the A1 widening scheme adjoining the RamJam junction.

Mr. Key : It is expected that the up-grading of the A1 trunk road to motorway standard would generally follow the line of the existing road. Wymondham and Thistleton are some distance from the A1, they are served by local highways and the Department does not have statutory powers to promote bypasses for these villages.

Shipping

Mr. Leigh : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when Her Majesty's Government will ratify the 1988 protocol relating to the international convention on load line 1966 establishing an international agreement on minimum freeboards for ships engaged on international voyages ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norris : The Government will consider ratification of annex IV of MARPOL when the findings of a comprehensive survey of United Kingdom reception facilities, including those for sewage, are available later in the year.

Penalty Fares Regulations

Mr. Dunn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to make penalty fares regulations under section 130 of the Railways Act 1993.

Mr. Freeman : The Railways (Penalty Fares) Regulations 1994 have now been laid before Parliament. The regulations give the rail regulator the power to make rules in respect of penalty fares, which have the same effect as if they were regulations. A draft copy of these rules, prepared by the office of the rail regulator, has been placed in the Library.


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Road Safety

Mr. Don Foster : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the expenditure by each local education authority in respect of school crossings and road safety for each year since 1989 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Key : The information requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Fuel Duty Rebate

Mr. Betts : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is his assessment of the impact of the decision of the Government to increase the fuel duty rebate in the Budget on (a) bus and coach passenger mileage, (b) bus and coach fares, (c) pollution caused by bus and coach, (d) car mileage and (e) pollution caused by cars.

Mr. Key [holding answer 8 March 1994] : The strategy of increasing fuel duty is designed to encourage reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from all road vehicles as part of our commitment, under the framework convention on climate change, to return such emission to 1990 levels by the year 2000. The increase in fuel duty for bus operators represents less than 1 per cent. of operating costs and therefore the impact on fares and services is likely to be small. The effect on bus and car mileage and on pollution will depend upon the actions taken by vehicle users in response to the measure but its intention is to cause all to think more carefully about the size, age, fuel efficiency,methods of operation and maintenance of such vehicles.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Public Bodies

Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food who are the members currently appointed to the Consumers Committee for Great Britain under the Agricultural Marketing Act 1958.

Mr. Jack : The members of the committee are :

Mrs. Janet Laurence, Chairman

Miss Beata Brookes

Mrs. Dorothy Cockrell

Mrs. Majorie Grimes

Mrs. Barbara Hawkins

Mr. John Murphy

Mr. John Tracy

Olive Oil

Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will state (a) the price at which British wholesalers buy olive oil per tonne, (b) what she estimates the price of olive oil per tonne would be in a free market without European Community price intervention and (c) the cost to the consumer of taxes on imports of olive oil.

Mr. Jack : The price of extra virgin olive oil on Community markets in the week beginning 7 February 1994 ranged from 1,850 ecu/tonne-- £1,400 per tonne --to 2,430 ecu/tonne--£1,850 per tonne . The EC accounts for approximately 75 per cent. of world production and consumption of olive oil. It is not possible


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to make precise estimates of the price at which oil would trade without Community support measures or the cost of those measures to the consumer without a large number of assumptions about how the EC and world markets would react if circumstances were to change. Source : Commission.

Exchange rate 1 ecu=£0.75958.

Tobacco

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

Mr. Jack : The answers are as follows :

(a)(b) It is not possible to give a representative wholesale price for tobacco,since values vary significantly in relation both to variety and quality. Neither is it possible to make precise estimates of a potential free market price, without a large number of assumptions about current price levels on world markets and how they would react if circumstances were to change.

(c) The latest Commission estimate of EC tobacco production from the 1993 harvest is 364,219 tonnes. Community consumption amounts to some 630,000 tonnes per annum.

(d) The provisional outturn for Community expenditure for tobacco in 1993 is 1,165 mecu--£915 million .

(e) The United Kingdom contributes to the EC budget as a whole, which funds the cost of tobacco support in other member states. £1=1.2729 ecu.

Milk

Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will state (a) the price at which British wholesalers buy milk per tonne, (b) the price at which the European Community sells milk per tonne on the world market, (c) the levels of European Community production and consumption of milk, (d) the level of common agricultural policy expenditure on milk subsidies, and (e) the cost to the British Exchequer of European Community intervention in the milk market.

Mr. Jack : The answers are as follows : (a) The average price paid for milk by wholesalers in England and Wales is £230.65 per tonne ; (b) there is not a world market for liquid milk ; (c) I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) on 1 February, Official Report ,column 555 , which shows EC production of milk and consumption of liquid milk for 1991, the latest year available ; (d) the 1993 provisional outturn of common agricultural policy expenditure in the dairy sector as a whole amounts to around £4 billion ; (e) the Exchequer cost of CAP support in the dairy sector in the United Kingdom is estimated at


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Rice

Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will state (a) the price at which British wholesalers buy rice per tonne, (b) what she estimates the price of rice per tonne would be in a free market without European Community price intervention and (c) the cost to the British consumer of the common agricultural policy in the rice market.

Mr. Jack : The answers are as follows : (a) Information on the price of rice to wholesalers is not gathered centrally. (b) It is not possible to make precise estimates about what prices might result if there were no market support in the EC. A large number of assumptions would be required in order to assess how domestic and world markets would react if commodity policy were to be changed. (c) I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Grocott) on 11 January, Official Report , columns 65-6 . For the reasons given, it is not possible to estimate the effect of the CAP on the food bill for individual commodities.

Common Agricultural Policy

Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the total budget of the common agricultural policy in each year since 1973 ; what proportion of the EC's total budget it accounted for ; and what proportion of the common agricultural policy was allocated to the United Kingdom.

Mr. Jack : The information is as follows :


              |Total CAP    |As percentage|Total UK                   

              |expenditure  |of total EC  |receipts as                

              |(EAGGF       |expenditure  |percentage of              

              |guarantee)                 |total EC CAP               

                                          |expenditure                

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

1973          |<1>3,660     |91           |4.15                       

1974          |<1>3,107     |69           |8.61                       

1975          |<1>4,727     |77           |17.23                      

1976          |<1>5,570     |76           |8.41                       

1977          |<1>6,662     |75           |6.27                       

1978          |<2>8,673     |72           |13.29                      

1979          |<2>10,441    |73           |8.89                       

1980          |<3>11,315    |69           |7.82                       

1981          |<3>10,980    |62           |9.87                       

1982          |<3>12,406    |61           |10.37                      

1983          |<3>15,812    |65           |10.73                      

1984          |<3>18,346    |67           |11.58                      

1985          |<3>19,744    |70           |9.62                       

1986          |<3>22,137    |65           |8.98                       

1987          |<3>22,968    |65           |7.61                       

1988          |<3>27,687    |67           |7.20                       

1989          |<3>25,873    |63           |7.41                       

1990          |<3>27,036    |62           |7.32                       

1991          |<3>31,939    |59           |7.49                       

1992          |<3>32,109    |55           |7.63                       

Sources: Annual Financial Reports of the Guarantee Section of the     

EAGGF.                                                                

Annual Reports of the European Court of Auditors.                     

<1>Million units of account.                                          

<2>Million European units of account.                                 

<3>Million European currency units.                                   

Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will estimate the cost to the United Kingdom of every acre farmed in the European Community.

Mr. Jack : This information is not available.


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Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the budget forecast for the common agricultural policy in 1994 ; and what proportion of this fund will be allocated to the United Kingdom.

Mr. Jack : The 1994 CAP budget has been set at 36,465 mecu-- £27,566 million. It is set in relation to forecast expenditure throughout the Community,and not on the basis of allocations to individual member states. The level of United Kingdom CAP receipts will depend on a variety of factors, such as production levels, quantities exported, and purchases in and sales out of intervention storage. It is forecast at £2,728 million for the 1994-95 financial year.

Sir Teddy Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will raise at the next meeting of the Council of Agriculture Ministers the cost to member states of the report commissioned by the EC into the future of the common agricultural policy ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jack : This study, which has yet to be completed or its findings published, is a matter for the Commission, not the Council of Ministers. The next meeting of the Council of Agricultural Ministers will however be discussing the Commission's proposals for CAP prices for 1994-95 during which my right hon. Friend will be paying close attention to the overall cost of the CAP.

Mr. Tyler : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps she has taken to obtain a copy of that analysis of the future economic viability of the common agricultural policy by EU economists ; if she will place a copy in the Library ; and if she will request the European Commission at the next Council of Ministers meeting to publish the report.

Mr. Jack [holding answer 8 March 1994] : I understand this is an internal European Commission study on which work is not yet fully complete. Eventual publication is a matter for the Commission. If the Commission does decide to make this study available then my right hon. Friend the Minister will seek to obtain a copy for the House Library.

Oilseeds

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

Mr. Jack : The average price for rapeseed on the United Kingdom market was £149 per tonne in 1993. Sunflower seed and soya beans are produced in insignificant quantities in the United Kingdom. EC average prices were £194 per tonne for sunflower seed and £178 per tonne for soya beans in 1993. Under the CAP oilseeds are traded within the EC at prices which are in line with those in world markets. The EC production and consumption of oilseeds--rapeseed, sunflower seed and soya beans--in 1992 was estimated at 11.3 million tonnes and 26.3


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million tonnes respectively, the last year for which figures are available. The level of CAP expenditure for oilseeds in 1993 was estimated at £2,261 million . The Exchequer cost of CAP support for oilseeds under the arable area payments scheme in the United Kingdom is estimated at £160 million--excluding the cost of oilseeds grown on set-aside land--for the 1993-94 financial year. The United Kingdom also contributes to the EC budget as a whole, which funds the cost of oilseeds support in other member states.

( Source : Commission).

( Source : Oil World).

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

Mr. Jack : The average price for linseed on the United Kingdom market was £111 per tonne in 1993. Under the CAP linseed is traded within the EC at prices which are in line with those in world markets. The EC production and consumption of linseed in 1992 was estimated at 380,000 tonnes and 492,000 tonnes respectively, the last year for which figures are available. The level of CAP expenditure for linseed in 1993 was estimated at £143 million . The Exchequer cost of CAP support for linseed under the arable area payments scheme in the United Kingdom is estimated at £75 million for the 1993-94 financial year. The United Kingdom also contributes to the EC budget as a whole,which funds the cost of linseed support in other member states.

( Source : Oil World).

( Source : Commission).

Potatoes

Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will state (a) the price at which British wholesalers buy potatoes per tonne,


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(b) what she estimates the price of potatoes per tonne would be in a free market without European Community price intervention, (c) the levels of European Community production and consumption of potatoes, (d) the level of common agricultural policy expenditure on potato subsidies and (e) the cost to the British Exchequer of European Community intervention in the potato market.

Mr. Jack : The answer is as follows :


(a) The average price at which registered 

merchants<1> in Great Britain             

sold maincrop potatoes was as follows:    

              |Average price              

              |(£/tonne)                  

              |(excluding                 

Crop year     |sacks)                     

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

1988-89       |62.51                      

1989-90       |98.65                      

1990-91       |78.17                      

1991-92       |85.73                      

1992-93       |56.71                      

Source: Weighted average of PMB country   

details of Maincrop returns               

from Registered Merchants.                

<1>During this period all registered      

production was sold through               

Registered merchants to all markets       

including the retail market.              

Northern Ireland recorded maincrop ware prices were as detailed :


              |Average price              

              |(£/tonne)                  

              |(excluding                 

Crop year     |sacks)                     

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

1988-89       |54.43                      

1989-90       |104.07                     

1990-91       |66.15                      

1991-92       |88.56                      

1992-93       |44.52                      

Source: Department for Agriculture for    

Northern Ireland; Economics and           

Statistics.                               

(b) there is no European Community price intervention ; (c) the latest available figures for European Community production and consumption of potatoes are as follows :


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EC member states production and consumption of potatoes                                

                Harvested                       Human consumption                      

                production (in                  (in 1,000T)                            

                1,000T)                                                                

Year           |1990   |1991   |1992   |1993<1>|1988-89|1989-90|1990-91|1991-92        

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

Belgium        |1,952  |2,02   |2,616  |2,093                                          

                                               |965    |929    |1,004  |1,029          

Luxembourg     |25     |19     |26     |-                                              

                                                                                       

Denmark        |1,483  |1,462  |1,738  |-      |331    |332    |317    |294            

Germany        |7,233  |10,201 |10,897 |12,074 |4,465  |4,482  |5,959  |5,940          

Greece         |996    |1,004  |980    |-      |868    |850    |903    |922            

Spain          |5,331  |5,182  |5,271  |4,158  |3,769  |4,243  |4.146  |4,210          

France         |4,779  |5,467  |6,676  |-      |4,100  |4,000  |4,021  |4,112          

Ireland        |605    |571    |642    |-      |506    |504    |526    |535            

Italy          |2,309  |2,219  |2,498  |2,026  |2,233  |2,203  |2,235  |2,230          

Netherlands    |7,036  |6,949  |7,641  |7,699  |1,274  |1,329  |1,300  |1,311          

Portugal       |1,132  |939    |1,511  |1,160  |964    |1,100  |1,110  |1,050          

United Kingdom |6,467  |6,267  |7,802  |7,117  |5,932  |5,615  |5,681  |5,426          

               |-------|-------|-------|-------|-------|-------|-------|-------        

EC12           |39,348 |42,282 |48,298 |-      |25,407 |25,587 |27,202 |27,059         

<1> Provisional.                                                                       

Sources: Eurostat, Crop Production-Quarterly Statistics, Vol. 4 1993.                  

MAFF Statistics (for revised UK data)-December 1993 Potatoes Quarterly Review.         

(d) there is no common agricultural policy expenditure on potatoes ; and, similarly,


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(e) there is no cost to the British Exchequer of European Community intervention in the potato market.


Column 279

Dairy Quotas

Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will estimate by how much the continued existence of dairy quotas raises market prices for dairy products above the intervention prices.

Mr. Jack : Prices for dairy products are currently close to intervention price levels.

Banana Trade Advisory Committee

Mr. Kilfoyle : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food who are the members of the Banana Trade Advisory Committee.

Mr. Jack : The Banana Trade Advisory Committee was disbanded on 1 July 1993 following the introduction of the EC single market for bananas.

Set-aside

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will she list the June census set-aside figures for England for each year from 1989 to 1994.

Mr. Jack : The June census set-aside figures for England for each year from 1990 to 1993 are as follows :


Year         |000 hectares             

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

1990         |72                       

1991         |97                       

1992         |130                      

1993         |580                      

Set-aside was not separately identified in the 1989 census. The provisional results of the 1994 June census are expected to become available in August 1994.

Infant Food

Mrs. Golding : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans she has to alter the regulations on the promotion of infant formula and follow-on formula.

Mr. Soames : Draft regulations to implement two EC directives covering the composition, marketing and export of infant formula and follow -on formula have been the subject of a public consultation exercise. The closing date for the receipt of comments was 4 March. The Government will carefully consider all the comments received, before announcing their conclusions on what the regulations should include.

Agricultural Base Rates

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what were the figures in hectares for (a) set-aside, (b) pulses and (c) oilseed rape and cereals for 1989, 1990 and 1991 which were used to calculate the base rate for England.

Mr. Jack : I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on Friday 3 December 1993 to the hon. Member for Angus, East (Mr. Welsh), Official Report, column 850.

EC Fisheries Inquiry

Mr. Morley : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the terms of reference for the European Commission's commission of inquiry into


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fisheries ; whether the inquiry will address the availability of food for sea birds ; and if he will list the membership of the inquiry team.

Mr. Jack : At the December Fisheries Council the Commission to establish a working group, composed of marine ecologists and fisheries biologists, to study the implications for the marine ecosystem of fishing in general and of industrial fishing in particular. The group will set priorities for future research work on the effect these have on the marine ecosystem, sea birds and small cetaceans. The Commission is responsible for the membership of the group. We have asked the Commission to ensure that the working group takes account of the recent sea bird deaths in the North sea.

Milk Marketing Board

Mr. Whittingdale : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, when she will consult on the Milk Marketing Board's amended scheme for reorganisation.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard : I and the Secretary of State for Wales have today invited comments from interested parties in England and Wales on the amended reorganisation scheme now before us.

The Milk Marketing Board has made a number of changes to the reorganisation scheme on which we consulted last October. The MMB now proposes a vesting day of 1 November 1994. Its new proposals also include the establishment of Genus as an independent company,with shares issued to eligible registered producers, and the retention of national milk records by the residuary Milk Marketing Board, which would determine its future ownership. The scheme continues to provide for the flotation of Dairy Crest and the issue to eligible producers of shares in Dairy Crest and certificates of entitlement in Milk Marque.

We have asked to receive comments by 8 April.

Copies of our consultation document have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament and will be available for inspection at the Ministry's regional service centres and Welsh Office divisional offices.


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