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AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Badgers (Tuberculosis)

Mr. Morley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the cost of the badger TB programme in each area in each of the last five years.[16242]

Mrs. Browning: The information is not available in the form requested. However, the approximate cost of employing staff to undertake badger investigations following TB breakdowns in cattle in England for each of the last five financial years is as follows:


In addition, considerable resources have been allocated to research into the problem of TB in badgers and cattle. It is estimated that the Department will spend £1.48 million in the current financial year.

Mr. Morley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the cost of administration of the blood test scheme which identifies TB in badgers since its introduction. [16243]

Mrs. Browning: The cost of using the recently developed live test for TB in badgers, from its introduction in November 1994 to date, has been approximately £536,324.

Food (Peanut Content)

Mr. Galbraith: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to ensure that the peanut content of food is listed on the packaging; and if he will make a statement. [16302]

27 Feb 1996 : Column: 490

Mrs. Browning: The European Community's Scientific Committee for Food has recently reported on the subject of food intolerance. We expect the EC Commission to pursue revised labelling rules on the basis of this scientific opinion.

In the meantime, following discussions between my officials and industry and consumer representatives, there is an increased awareness of nut allergy within the industry. Many manufacturers are now voluntarily labelling the presence of nuts on their labels and some have considered the reformulation of their products.

Licensed Meat Wholesalers

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many licensed meat wholesale premises there were in (a) Wales, (b) England and (c) Scotland at the end of 1995; and if he will make a statement. [16510]

Mrs. Browning: The tables set out the number of wholesale premises licensed at the end of 1995 under (i) the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995, (ii) the Poultry Meat, Farmed Game Bird Meat and Rabbit Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995 and (iii) the Wild Game Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995:

(i) The Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995

Type of premisesWalesEnglandScotland
Slaughterhouses3640248
Cutting Plants2535741
Cold Stores1824244
Farmed Game Handling/Processing Facilities6577

(ii) The Poultry Meat, Farmed Game Bird Meat and Rabbit Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995

Type of premisesWalesEnglandScotland
Slaughterhouses111448
Cutting Plants7681
Cold Stores14--
Re-wrapping Centres--11

(iii) The Wild Game Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995

Type of premisesWalesEnglandScotland
Wild Game Processing Facilities--1613

Fish Discards

Mr. Cox: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he last met his European counterparts to discuss the discarding of fish; and if he will make a statement. [16720]

27 Feb 1996 : Column: 491

Mr. Baldry: At the Council of Fisheries Ministers on 21 to 22 December 1995, we discussed the implementation of technical conservation measures under the common fisheries policy. I led the way in pressing the case for improvements to be made to help reduce discards and conserve stocks, and it was agreed that the Commission should present new proposals by 1 June 1996. The Council undertook to reach a decision on these proposals before the end of 1996.

Isle of Wight (Expenditure)

Mr. Barry Field: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the total expenditure of his Department on the Isle of Wight in 1994-95 broken down by category. [16779]

Mr. Boswell: The information is not held centrally. Details of national expenditure broken down into 81 programmes are available from the MAFF/IB annual departmental report. The 1995 edition (CM 2803), available from the House of Commons Library, contains estimated outturn figures for 1994-95. The next edition of this report is due to be published on 25 March 1966 as part of a series, accompanied by a statistical supplement, which present the Government's expenditure plans for 1996-97 to 1998-99.

National Institute of Agricultural Botany

Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has for a prior options review of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany. [16973]

Mr. Boswell: None. Discussions are taking place with the National Institute of Agricultural Botany with a view to placing it unequivocally in the private sector.

Sheep Producers (Aid Packages)

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make it his policy to press the European Union for similar aid packages for United Kingdom sheep producers to those recently awarded to the Republic of Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [17780]

Mrs. Browning: No. As yet, no aid package has been awarded to the Republic of Ireland. My right hon. and learned Friend the Minister made it clear at the Agriculture Council last December that we saw no justification for the special treatment which Ireland was seeking: responding to a weak market situation by granting special aid gives the wrong signals to producers.

The statement agreed at that meeting of the Council makes it clear that the extension of the less favoured areas supplement to the whole of Ireland--that is, including Northern Ireland--will be proposed by the Commission only if there are sufficient funds in the budget to accommodate the resultant payments.

Given the close relationship between sheepmeat production in Northern Ireland and in the Irish Republic, it is right that any special aid granted to producers in the republic should be available also to those in Northern Ireland.

27 Feb 1996 : Column: 492

Lame Sheep

Mr. Morley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what is the number and percentage of lame sheep in the national flock; [16337]

Mrs. Browning [holding answer 22 February 1996]: The Government are concerned that sheep lameness is a significant problem both for welfare and economic reasons. We are currently running an advisory campaign and, following recommendations in the Farm Animal Welfare Council's report on the welfare of sheep, propose to amend the welfare code for sheep to emphasise the importance of appropriate prevention and treatment.

We have, in addition, been funding the Royal Veterinary college to carry out a study into ovine lameness. The first part of the study, a survey of a random sample of sheep holdings, found a reported incidence of lameness of about 8 per cent. in 1993-94. This is now being followed up by on-farm investigations into the different causes of lameness with a view to developing improved methods of control.

Scott Inquiry

Mr. Madden: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at what hour and minute of what day the report of the Scott Inquiry was delivered to his office. [16540]

Mr. Douglas Hogg [holding answer 22 February 1996]: My copy of the Scott report was collected from the House at 3.30 pm on Thursday 15 February and delivered promptly to my office.

Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the members of his Department who saw the report of the Scott inquiry before it was presented to the House; and when each saw the report. [16523]

Mr. Hogg [holding answer 22 February 1996]: No member of my Department saw a copy of the report of the Scott inquiry before it was presented to the House.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he first saw the report of the Scott inquiry. [16594]

Mr. Hogg [holding answer 22 February 1996]: I first saw a copy of the report of the Scott inquiry after its publication.

Press Gallery Writing Rooms

Mrs. Jane Kennedy: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which Ministers in his Department entered the writing rooms of the Press Gallery on 15 February. [16483]

Mr. Douglas Hogg [holding answer 22 February 1996]: If any Ministers did so, that is a matter for them.

27 Feb 1996 : Column: 493


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