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Column 270The Meat (Treatment) Regulations 1964--SI 1964 No. 19--prohibit the addition to raw and unprocessed meat of certain colour--enhancing additives which might deceive the consumer as to the freshness of the meat. They have been reviewed and are to be retained.
In addition to this list, Council Regulations (EEC) Nos. 805/68, 3013/89 and 2759/75, implemented by subsidiary Commission legislation provide the framework for the common agriculture policy in respectively the beef, sheepmeat and pigmeat sectors. These are directly applicable in the United Kingdom and cover such subjects as intervention purchases and sales, imports and subsidised exports and the reporting of market prices.
Dr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is her Department's assessment of the periods for which caseous lymphadenitis can persist in the environment ; and what is the risk to other animals or people.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : The organism which causes caseous lymphadenitis can be introduced to the environment only by the discharge from ruptured abscesses in heavily infected animals and it would be rare for animals to reach that stage of infection without action being taken. The organism can survive for up to eight weeks on surfaces out of the sunlight and for up to eight months in soil under appropriate conditions. Infection is spread through contact with skin abrasions so animals rubbing against contaminated surfaces could pick up the disease but there is very little risk that people could contract caseous lymphadenitis from environmental contamination.
Dr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how infectious to people in close contact with the disease, particularly abattoir workers, is caseous lymphadenitis ; and how many cases of human infection have been reported in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Gillian Shephard : People in close contact with caseous lymphadenitis can become infected with the disease if the pus discharged from abscesses is able to enter the body through skin abrasions and care should be taken when handling diseased animals. However, such cases are extremely rare. We are not aware of any reported cases in the United Kingdom and only 13 in the rest of the world since records have been kept.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : The economic effect of any animal disease depends both on the nature of the disease and the extent of the outbreak. There is no evidence that caseous lymphadenitis is a serious problem or causes significant economic damage to the United Kingdom sheep industry. In Australia where the disease is endemic significant economic losses result from the loss in the animal's value from reduced production or rejection of infected meat at the abattoir.
Dr. Strang : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to her answer of 20 April, Official Report, column 568, if she will set out beef and ewe numbers for the minimum level of agricultural activity equivalents including 1993 standard man day--SMD--equivalents and European size unit--ESU--thresholds ; and what are the reasons for the different definitions of what constitutes the minimum level of activity for a full-time commercial farm in the less-favoured area provided in her answer and printed in the farm business survey.
Mrs. Gillian Shephard : Farm size is not currently measured by standard man days ; values for SMD equivalents have not been revised since 1976. The threshold for inclusion of farms in the farm business survey is currently eight ESU and in the less favoured areas this is equivalent to either 30 hill cows or between 200 and 250 hill ewes. It is estimated that farms below this size account for only about 2.8 per cent. of the total United Kingdom agricultural activity, as measured by SGM.
The reason for the change in the threshold used in the farm business survey from 275 SMD in 1964 to 250 SMD in 1979 reflected a reduction in the length of the working week. In 1979, when the method of measuring farm size based on SGMs was introduced in the United Kingdom, on average, across all types of crops and livestock, 250 SMD was approximately equivalent to four ESU based on the average of 1972 to 1974 SGM. SGMs used in farm classification in the United Kingdom have subsequently been updated to the average of 1978 to 1980 values and then to the average of 1987 to 1989 values to take account of changes in the gross margins of the various types of crops and livestock. The change in the ESU threshold from four to eight reflects changes in the aggregate value of the SGM of the United Kingdom agricultural sector resulting from the move from 1972-74 to 1978-80 SGM.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will list all types of consumer food products in which organophosphates have been found by Government scientists ; and if she will make a statement.
organophosphorus pesticides in samples of cereals, bread and other cereal products, fruit and vegetables. Details are published in the working party's annual reports.
Random sampling for organophosphorus compounds in cattle, sheep and pigs presented for slaughter is carried out under the national surveillance scheme for residues in meat. No traces of
organophosphorus compounds have been found in samples collected from cattle and pigs. In 1992, however, six sheep kidney fat samples were found to contain detectable levels of diazinon but none of these exceeded the maximum residue limit.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will list the grades and qualifications of each member of her Department's committee which evaluates the use of organophosphate pesticides ; and if she will make a statement.
Professor Sir Colin Berry DSc, MD, PhD, FRCPath, FRCP, FFPM--Professor of Morbid Anatomy, Consultant in Histopathology and Director of the Histopathological Institute at the Royal London Hospital.
Dr. Andre e Carter BSc, MISoilSci, MIWEM--Principal Research Scientist and Laboratory Manager, Soil Survey and Land Research Centre.
Professor Nicola Cherry PhD, MD, FFOM--Director of the Centre for Occupational Health, University of Manchester.
Professor Michael Claridge MA, DPhil, FIBiol, FLS, FRES--Head of School and Professor of Pure Entomology, University of Wales. Professor Anthony Dayan BSc, MD, FRCP, FRCPath, FFPM, FIBoil--Professor of Toxicology and Director of the DH Toxicology Laboratory, St. Bartholomew's Medical College.
Mr. John Leahy MA (Oxon), CChem, MRSC--General Manager of Severn Trent Laboratories.
Professor Donald Lee BSc, PhD, FIBiol, FRSA--Professor of Agricultural Zoology, University of Leeds.
Dr. Alex Proudfoot BSc (Hons), MB, ChB, FRCPE--Consultant Physician, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Director of the Scottish Poisons Information Bureau.
Dr. Eve Roman BSc, PhD--Epidemiologist, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford.
Professor Geoffrey Sagar CBE, BA, MA, DPhil (Oxon)--Professor of Agricultural Botany and Vice Principal of the University College of North Wales.
Mr. Roger Tayler BSc (Agric), Postgrad Dip Agric, NDA, CBiol, MIBiol-- Senior Tutor in the Faculty of Agriculture and Food and Senior Lecturer in crop production, Department of Agriculture, University of Reading.
Professor Paul Webster BSc, PhD, FBIM, FRSA--Head of Department of Agricultural Economics, Wye College, University of London.
Mr. Soames : The expert group that advised the Chief Medical Officer --in its report "Folic Acid and the Prevention of Neural Tube Defects"-- recommended that only breads and breakfast cereals should be fortified and that a choice of unfortified products should remain available. There are therefore no plans for fortification of flour. Many breakfast cereals and a number of breads are already fortified with folic acid. My Department has written to the relevant trade organisations to encourage them to increase the range of products fortified with folic acid in line with recommendations of the expert advisory group. The response has been positive. About 50 to 60 per cent. of the breakfast cereals on the market are fortified with folic acid and a number of new fortified breads have appeared on the market.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many personnel from her Department were involved in Exercise Diver Mist ; in what capacities they served ; and what was the cost to her Department of this involvement.
Mr. Soames : Seven staff from this Department took part as exercise players in Exercise Diver Mist at a cost of £4,500. The purpose of involvement was to test the Department's emergency response plan.
organophosphorus sheep dips until the medical and scientific panel investigating reports of long-term health effects reaches its conclusions ; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Soames : Independent scientific advice from the Veterinary Products Committee following its meeting in October is that there is no firm evidence to support the association of chronic health effects with exposure to organophosphorus sheep dips. The committee nevertheless recommended that knowledge of potential toxicity should be enhanced, which is why the medical and scientific panel has recently been set up. The committee concluded that in the mean time the marketing of the dips could continue, and the Government have accepted this advice.
Mr. Tyler : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what procedures are in place to monitor whether overgrazing has reduced following the withholding of hill livestock compensatory allowances as a direct result of the introduction of the hill livestock compensatory allowance overgrazing clause ;
(2) what procedures are in place to monitor whether meetings between her Ministry's officials and producers to discuss ways of reducing overgrazing have led to reductions in overgrazing ; (3) what procedures are in place to reduce the environmental damage caused through overgrazing consequent on that damage continuing after hill livestock compensatory allowances are withheld as a result of the introduction of the hill livestock compensatory allowance overgrazing clause.
Mr. Jack [holding answer 19 April 1994] : The overgrazing provisions of the hill livestock compensatory allowances scheme introduced in 1992 are intended to discourage farming practice which causes significant environmental damage. The Ministry has arrangements with ADAS to undertake biological monitoring of land which is considered to be overgrazed and to report on measures which should be taken to arrest further deterioration. The ADAS reports are discussed with the producers concerned with the aim of reaching agreement on improvements in management. To the extent that agreement is reached monitoring will continue to ensure that agreed action has been taken and that it is sufficient to prevent further environmental damage.
If agreement cannot be reached with producers and overgrazing continues we can exercise our powers to
Column 274withhold allowances in their entirety. If farmers choose not to apply for hill livestock compensatory allowances we cannot continue to monitor the vegetation on their land since they are not subject to the provisions of the hill livestock compensatory allowances scheme. We recognise that the application of overgrazing provisions to hill livestock compensatory allowances is limited in its effect as subsidies paid under sheep annual premium, suckler cow premium and beef special premium schemes currently have no such provision attached to them. However, the Council of Ministers has now made provision in the rules for these schemes which would enable us to attack similar conditions. It is our intention, following public consultation which is currently in progress, to introduce into all three schemes overgrazing provisions similar to those which currently apply to HLCAs. Once this is done, we will be able to take effective action against those producers who have been prepared to forgo payments under the HLCA scheme while continuing to overgraze their land. Producers who wish to benefit from the livestock subsidy schemes will therefore have to manage their land in ways which prevent further environmental damage.
The subject matter of these questions requires fuller treatment than is normally given in parliamentary answers. I shall therefore write to the hon. Member giving further details and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.
Mr. Tyler : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many producers have been approached by her Ministry's officials in each Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food region to discuss ways of reducing overgrazing in each year since the introduction of the hill livestock compensatory allowance overgrazing clause ; and if she will make a statement.
Number of producers approached Region |1992 |1993 |1994 ------------------------------------------ East Midlands |- |- |- North East |- |25 |18 Northern |- |89 |- North Mercia |- |- |40 South Mercia |- |- |- South West |9 |56 |34 Wessex |- |16 |4
Mr. Tyler : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many hill livestock compensatory allowances she has withheld in 1992, 1993 and 1994 in each Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food region as a result of the introduction of the hill livestock compensatory allowance overgrazing clause ; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Tyler : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many farmers have had hill livestock compensatory allowances withheld in 1992, 1993 and 1994 in each Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food region as a result of the introduction of the hill livestock compensatory allowance overgrazing clause.
Region Number of Farmers who have had allowances withheld |1992|1993|1994 -------------------------------------- South West |5 |6 |4 All other regions |Nil |Nil |Nil
--100 per cent. cost recovery of full costs,
--an overall efficiency gain of 2 per cent.,
--a reduction of 2 per cent. in real terms of representative unit costs for services ;
--at least 90 per cent. of work completed to time and within budget,
--at least 95 per cent. of contracts delivered to the customer's satisfaction.
These are demanding targets which challenge the newly enlarged agency to build on its achievements to date. The Central Science Laboratory will continue to implement during 1994-95 arrangements for the independent assessment of the quality of the scientific work and publications. Details of performance in 1993-94 will be set out in the agency's annual report and accounts will be published during July 1994.
Full cost recovery for all central veterinary laboratory services. Efficiency
An overall efficiency gain of 2.5 per cent.
85 per cent. of ROAME R and D milestones achieved.
Achievement of a satisfactory report from a Visiting Group. Achievement of laboratory accreditation for the Biological Products and Analytical Chemistry units.
Details of performance in 1993-94 will be set out in the agency's annual report and accounts to be published during July 1994.
Mr. Butler : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what performance targets she has set for the Agricultural Development Advisory Service executive agency for 1994-95 ; and if she will make a statement.
Column 276for Wales and I have decided that for 1994- 95 ADAS will be asked to recover 63 per cent. of its costs for advisory services through charges to commercial customers ; the balance will be met by my Department. I also announced ADAS's plans for restructuring its operations in order to achieve this new target, and reduce its cost base to make it competitive in all its markets.
The other financial, efficiency and service delivery targets for ADAS for 1994-95 will be :
to achieve full cost recovery from all other work ;
to reduce the total cost per hour in contract delivery in real terms by 4 per cent.
to maintain average debtor days at or better than the best achieved in any previous year ;
to meet 90 per cent. of R and D project milestones ;
to continue to achieve customer satisfaction as measured by customer surveys.
Mr. Redwood : Comprehensive information is not held centrally in the form requested. My Department's statistical directorate issued 25 regular statistical publications in 1993-94. All are available by subscription or standing order.
Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what restrictions are in place on advertising drugs available without prescription which are designed to aid sleep ; what checks are carried out to ensure that addictive or potentially harmful drugs are not advertised for mass consumption ; what health warnings should be given in such advertisements ; in what ways regulations or guidelines on the advertisement of such drugs have been amended or relaxed within the past five years ; what plans he has to introduce new legislation, statutory orders or guidelines to regulate the promotion of aids to sleep which are available without prescription ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Gwilym Jones : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary for Health on 27 April at column 203. The legislation governing the advertisement of medicines is common to England and Wales.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will announce a new grant aid scheme to encourage owners to change shops which are no longer in commercial use to residential use ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 277directives which encourage developers of large stores in Wales to use and adapt existing shops and other properties that lie empty in town and village shopping centres rather than build large new premises on the outskirts of town ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Redwood : Planning policy guidance note 6, "Town Centres and Retail Developments", emphasises the role of existing town centres and village shops, and encourages local planning authorities to provide positive policies in development plans to encourage uses that will contribute to town centre vitality and viability.
Mr. Alex Carlile : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will propose for Wales regulations or circulars similar to those announced for England, concerning restrictions on planning consents for commercial development ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Redwood : Guidance on a range of issues relating to industrial and commercial development and small firms is contained in the joint Department of the Environment and Welsh Office planning policy guidance note 4. Separate advice on the planning aspects of retail development is found in the joint DOE and Welsh Office PPG note 6. Planning policy guidance note 13, "Highway Considerations in Development Control", is under review and I will be issuing revised guidance in due course.
Mr. Gwilym Jones : The annual figures for the number of people cremated in Wales are collected by the Federation of British Cremation Authorities and were most recently published in volume 37 of the Federation's journal "Resurgam". This indicates that 20,212 cremations took place in Wales in 1993.