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Fisheries Council

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the nations which participate in the EEC Fisheries Council, indicating which of them presently fish in (a) the Irish box, (b) area VII, (c) the North sea, (d) the channel and (e) British waters as defined by the Fishery Limits Act 1976.

Mr. Jack: The Fisheries Council consists of the Ministers responsible for fisheries in each of the 15 member states of the EU. The following member states have quotas which may currently be taken in all or part of the areas listed:

(a) The Irish box: United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands.

(b) Area VII: United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Spain.

(c) The North sea: United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden.

(d) The English channel: United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Spain.

(e) British waters as defined by the Fisheries Limits Act 1976: United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Sweden, Portugal.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what experiments have been performed involving feeding calves with BSE infected milk; and what results have been obtained.

Mrs. Browning: None. Other experiments have revealed that bovine milk contains no detectable BSE infectivity.

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the dates of birth of the last five confirmed BSE cases in Somerset.

Mrs. Browning: The information requested is as follows. The exact date of birth for four of the cases is unknown.

1987

7 September 1987

Spring 1988

April 1988

April 1989

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information he has available on the numbers and circumstances of confirmed BSE cases born after 18 July 1988.

Mrs. Browning: As at 23 January 1995, 15,771 cases of BSE had been confirmed in cattle born after 18 July 1988. Of these 8,955 were born in 1988, 5,995 in 1989, 812 in 1990 and nine in 1991. The great majority of the born after the ban cases have probably been exposed to ruminant protein in feed. The normal range of incubation period makes it inevitable that further cases will be confirmed in some animals exposed to infected feed and born in the months following the feed ban. Although it is still possible that BSE can occasionally be transmitted


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maternally or horizontally, there is no unequivocal evidence that either has actually occurred.

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the Southwood committee's report on BSE in 1989 took into account the numbers of confirmed BSE cattle from after the feeding ban of July 1988; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Browning: Paragraph 6.2 of the report of the working party on BSE dated February 1989, stated that the estimate of the numbers of future cases of BSE contained in the report

"Assume that no new infections have arisen or will arise after 18 July 1988, when the ban on ruminant protein in feed became operative."

The great majority of the born after the ban cases have probably been exposed to ruminant protein in feed. The normal range of incubation period makes it inevitable that further cases will be confirmed in some animals exposed to infected feed and born in the months following the feed ban. Although it is still possible that BSE can occasionally be transmitted maternally or horizontally, there is no unequivocal evidence to indicate that either has actually occurred.

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the number of BSE cases slaughtered and confirmed during 1994.

Mrs. Browning: The provisional figure for the number of suspect BSE cases slaughtered in 1994 is 28,257. The number of cases confirmed in 1994 was 25,578.

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made towards rapid detection of cattle infected with BSE prior to their final encephalopathic clinical illness.

Mrs. Browning: Research is in progress to permit more accurate diagnosis of BSE in the clinically suspected live animal. Studies include detection by post mortem and laboratory test of changes in the concentration of metabolites in urine, proteins in cerebrospinal fluid and detection of PrP peripheral tissues. None is sufficiently advanced to be of immediate use.

Another study, based on work already published in the Veterinary Record by Austin and Simmons--27 March 1993, 132, 324 325--involves field trials where monitors are attached to cattle for detection of changes to heart and rumination rates. These studies are still in progress but will not result in instant diagnosis. It is expected that monitors would need to be attached to cattle for several hours if they are to be a valuable diagnostic indicator. They will only be of value for cases where clinical diagnosis is in doubt. It will not be feasible to use such equipment on all suspect cases.

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many (a) renderers, (b) feed compounders and (c) farmers have been prosecuted for contravening BSE regulations annually since 1988.

Mrs. Browning: There have been two prosecutions taken by the local authorities concerned under the Animal Health Act 1981 for contravening BSE regulations since 1988, one in 1991, the other in 1992.

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the results of the vertical experiment, identified within the Southwood report at paragraph 8.1, will be published.

Mrs. Browning: The animal experimental part of the cohort study in maternal transmission in BSE is expected


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to be completed at the end of 1996. Results of the study are expected to be available by mid-1997.

Interim observations of this study were reported in Hansard on 12 December 1994, columns 523 24 .

EU Scientific Veterinary Committee

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the United Kingdom representatives on the EU Scientific Veterinary Committee.

Mrs. Browning: The following is a list of United Kingdom members of the European Commissions's Scientific Veterinary Committee: Mr. R. Bradley

Dr. D. J. Alexander

Dr. A. M. Johnston

Dr. R. J. Gilbert

Prof. D. Broom

Prof. J. Webster

The Commission appoints experts to be members of the various EC expert committees. These members do not represent their respective member states when participating in the work of the committees.

Cattle Semen

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what volume of cattle semen from United Kingdom herds was exported to (a) New Zealand, (b) Australia and (c) Canada, annually, from 1992 to 1994.

Mrs. Browning: The information requested in respect of exports from Great Britain is set out in the table. The figures are based on the expected number of doses to be exported included in applications to the Department for official export health certification. It is possible that quantities actually exported differ slightly.


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

Destination                             

New Zealand |-     |5,933 |10,653       

Australia   |2,500 |-     |200          

Canada      |8,107 |5,371 |4,495        

Offal Disposal

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information he has available to identify the routes of disposal for specified offals from cattle prohibited from entering human food in November 1989.

Mrs. Browning: The Bovine Offal (Prohibition) Regulations 1989, which came into effect on 13 November 1989, prohibited the use of specified bovine offals, as defined, in food for sale for human consumption.

The SBO controls, which are under review at present, require, subject to certain exceptions, that SBO must be sterilised or stained at the slaughterhouse. Movement permits are required for the removal of SBO from the slaughterhouse for disposal. The movement of protein material derived from SBO--after rendering--is prohibited except under licence for incineration or burial.


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Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the decision of 30 June 1994 to remove intestines and thymuses from calves under six months has been reported to EU member states.

Mrs. Browning: The European Commission and individual member states were informed of the decision on the 30 June 1994, and official notification to the commission under the technical standards directive-- 83/189/EEC--was made on 26 July 1994.

N. M. Rothschild and Sons Ltd.

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will provide estimates for the total amount that has been paid to N. M. Rothschild and Sons Ltd. with respect to any work undertaken by it on privatisation programmes in which his Ministry has been engaged since 1979 after taking account of inflation.

Mr. Jack: From records held centrally, N. M. Rothschild and Sons Ltd. has not undertaken any work on privatisation programmes in which the Ministry has been engaged since 1979.

Ian Greer Associates

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on how many occasions departmental officials met representatives of Ian Greer Associates (a) formally and (b) informally on 26 January to discuss matters relating to their clients' interests.

Mr. Waldegrave: To my knowledge, officials from this Department have had no such meetings.

Shellfish

Mr. Ainger: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list those inshore and estuarial fisheries where the collection of shellfish for commercial purposes has been banned because of the level of viral and faecal matters in seawater.

Mr. Jack: Since 1 January 1993 single market legislation requires all shellfish growing areas in the Community to be classified according to microbiological criteria. The classification of production areas as A, B or C carries specific requirements for the marketing of the shellfish--bi valve molluscs.

A areas--molluscs can be harvested for direct human consumption.

B areas--molluscs can go for human consumption after purification in an approved plant, or after relaying in an approved relaying area, or after an EU approved heat treatment process. C areas--molluscs can go for human consumption, only after relaying for at least two months in an approved relaying area whether or not combined with purification, or after an EU approved heat treatment process.

Molluscs must not be marketed from areas that are not classified, or fall outside the criteria.

Shellfish growing areas are monitored continuously by local food authorities. The results for England and Wales are collated by the Ministry's fish disease laboratory at Weymouth and the classification is published annually. The latest classification, which contains a list of designated prohibited areas, was issued on 4 October and a copy is in the Library of the House.


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Next Steps Agencies

Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will set out for each of the next steps agencies in his Department, whether they have acquired their own headquarters buildings and, if so, at what purchase cost or annual rental; how many support staff they have required which were not required when their operations were within his Department; how many of them published periodical journals and at what annual cost; how many have fleets of executive cars or single executive cars and at what annual cost; how many have specially designed logos and at what cost; how many have corporate clothing and at what cost; and what is the cost of specially designed and printed corporate stationery.

Mr. Waldegrave [pursuant to his reply, 26 January 1995, c. 358 61]: The letter to the right hon. Member from the chief executive othe Veterinary Medicines Directorate stated that he would write to the right hon. Member when the information on the cost of the VMD logo was available.

I understand that the VMD has now written to the right hon. Member. The text of the letter is as follows:

Letter from C. J. Lawson to Gerald Kaufman, dated 27 January 1995:

I am now able to let you have the information about the costs incurred in the design of the Directorate logo, which was not available when I wrote to you on 24 January.

The design costs were £360 + VAT.

I am very sorry that I could not let you have this in my original letter and regret any inconvenience that may have been caused.

Farm Incomes

Mr. Luff: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the level of farm incomes in 1994.

Mr. Waldegrave [pursuant to his reply, 26 January 1995, c. 356]: Total income from farming is estimated to have risen by 4.4 per cent. in real terms in 1994 compared with 1993. This is further evidence that the industry is responding well to common agricultural policy reform. 1993 saw a very large increase in agricultural income and I am pleased that overall there has been a further improvement in 1994. Detailed estimates of income, output and productivity of United Kingdom agriculture in 1994 were published this morning and have been placed in the Library of the House.

Commercial Lobbying

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) on how many occasions in the last four months of which he has knowledge any civil servants in his Department have been approached by commercial lobbying on behalf of their clients at informal or unofficial engagements;

(2) on how many occasions in the last four months he or any of his Ministers have been approached by commercial lobbying on behalf of their clients at informal or unofficial engagements.

Mr. Waldegrave [holding answer 25 January 1995]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 25 January 1995, Official Report , column


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197 . Ministers and officials receive representations about a wide variety of matters, but the information requested is not collected.

SCOTLAND

Health Care International

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to submit Health Care International hospital Clydeside to independent audit in respect of losses to public funds.

Mr. Stewart: At the request of the Public Accounts Committee, the National Audit Office is currently preparing a factual memorandum on the public sector funding of the Health Care International project. In preparing this memorandum, the NAO has had full access to departmental records on the HCI project and the full co operation of my right hon. Friend's officials.

The receiver has recently signed an agreement in principle with a preferred bidder for the continued operation of the Clydebank facility and there is therefore every possibility that the project will yet yield the economic development and job creation benefits which the public sector funding was designed to secure.

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if the company that takes over Health Care International in Clydebank will be eligible for regional selective assistance; what promises have been given to the receiver on this matter; and what are the conditions for the release of any grant assistance.

Mr. Stewart: If a new investor were prepared to take the project forward, there is no reason in principle why consideration should not be given to transfer of the balance of the existing offer. Such a transfer would be subject to appropriate conditions and be based upon the project being taken forward as previously envisaged. No promises have been given to the receiver on this matter. If the offer was transferred, the unpaid balance of grant would be released in line with the job targets which would otherwise have applied to HCI.

Employment (Children)

Mr. Nigel Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to include clauses on child employment in the forthcoming Children (Scotland) Bill.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: There are no plans to include provisions relating to the employment of children in the Children (Scotland Bill). The Government are committed, however, to making changes in the regulation of employment of children in line with the European Community directive on the protection of young people at work. The Scottish Office Education Department and the Department of Health are currently consulting education authorities about this.

Student Finance

Mrs. Fyfe: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what would be the full amount of a student loan to be repaid, assessing the current rate of interests, if a student currently in the first year of a three-year course applied for the maximum loan in each of these years; and what is


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his forecast for the total loan for a three- year course beginning in 1995 and subsequent years for which calculations on present information can be made.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The figures requested are set out in the table. In order to estimate them it has been necessary to make certain assumptions, the basis for some of which will be subject to review from time to time.

The main assumptions used in estimating the figures are: (i) The move to broad parity between grants and loans for student maintenance will continue and will be achieved in academic year 1996 97;

(ii) the value of the student maintenance provision will be increased in line with forecast price increases;

(iii) movements in the retail prices index will be consistent with those underlying the Budget statement in November 1994; (iv) the students concerned are studying away from home outwith the London area; and

(v) repayments commence in the April following completion of the course.


Table 1: Total level of debt for student on a three year       

course                                                         

                     |Estimated total debt                     

                     |as at                                    

Course beginning in  |April following                          

academic year:       |graduation                               

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

1994-95              |£4,000                                   

1995-96              |£4,500                                   

Absenteeism

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the absenteeism rate for the Lord Advocate's Department in each year since 1991.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The average number of working days lost per staff year due to sickness is as follows:

1994: 9.6

1993: 8.1

1992: 6.4

1991: 9.6

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the absenteeism rate for (a) his Department, (b) Historic Scotland, (c) the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency, (d) the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency, (e) the Register of Scotland, (f) the Scottish Office Pensions Agency, (g) the Scottish Prison Service, (h) the Scottish Record Office and (i) the Student Awards Agency in each year since 1991.

Mr. Lang: The average number of working days lost per staff year due to sickness is as follows for:

a. The Scottish Office--excluding SPS;

b. The Scottish Prison Service Agency--SPS; and

c. The Secretary of State's Executive Agencies of Registers of Scotland and the Scottish Record Office--SRO:


                    |The Scottish Office                                                                                

                    |(excluding SPS)    |SPS                |ROS                |SRO                                    

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

1993                |10.3               |15.3               |15.9               |10.1                                   

1992                |8.9                |12.6               |15.0               |7.2                                    

1991                |n/a                |n/a                |n/a                |n/a                                    

Information on the disaggregation of the Scottish Office, excluding SPS, total into the core and each of its agencies   

is not readily available.                                                                                               

Sheep Scab

Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many cases of sheep scab there were in each year since 1990 and in each month for 1994.


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