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Animal Welfare

29. Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he has already taken to improve animal welfare; what further steps he is considering; and if he will make a statement. [17574]

Mrs. Browning: My right hon. and learned Friend has secured agreement in the Council of Ministers to measures which will result in a significant improvement in the welfare of calves. The use of the close confinement veal crate, already banned in the UK, will be phased out across Europe by 2006. Other changes, including a ban on unacceptable diets, will come into effect from 1 January next year. We have also been preparing national implementing measures which will give effect to improved EU rules on welfare in transit. We will work hard to ensure that other member states implement and enforce these rules too.

We will continue to press for improved measures to protect the welfare of laying hens and, at the intergovernmental conference, for the adoption of a protocol endorsing the Community's role in the protection of animal welfare.

Infant Formula Milk

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what responsibility his Department has with regard to microbiological testing of infant formula baby milk; and if he will make a statement. [18455]

Mrs. Browning: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him today by the Under-Secretary of State for Health.

6 Mar 1997 : Column: 747

Quarantine

Sir Patrick Cormack: To ask the Minster of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will announce the result of his review of the quarantine regulations. [18675]

Mrs. Browning: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Members for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) and Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) on 27 February 1997, Official Report, column 326.

Swine Fever

Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what steps he is taking to monitor the spread of swine fever in Germany; [18429]

Mrs. Browning: I have no plans to meet my EU counterparts on this topic, which is being kept under continuous review by the EC Standing Veterinary Committee. Community legislation lays down the internal control measures against swine fever which the German veterinary authorities must apply, and additional controls specifically applicable to the export of live pigs and fresh and processed pigmeat products from Germany. These measures have been implemented to prevent the spread of disease within Germany and to other countries. They include restrictions on the movement of live animals and products within Germany, a total ban on the export of live animals and pigmeat products from infected regions and additional safeguards applicable to exports from other regions.

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will provide a breakdown by project of PFI schemes for which his Department is responsible as identified in Table 5.5 of the Red Book. [18923]

Mr. Boswell: The financial provision in the Ministry's entry for 1999-00 in Table 5.5 of the Red Book is an outline for non-PFI procurement only which will be subject to revision when PFI tenders have been received.

It relates to two projects:
(a) Whitehall HQ Building (Accommodation).
(b) Sea-Going Research Vessel Services.

Abbotsland Farm

Mr. Morley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if Abbotsland farm, Capel le Ferne, is operating as a staging point, as defined under EU law; and if he will make a statement. [18999]

6 Mar 1997 : Column: 748

Mrs. Browning: No. Defined criteria for staging points under directive 91/628, as amended, have yet to be agreed by the Council of Agriculture Ministers.

ADAS

Mr. Peter Atkinson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the advantages of the privatisation of ADAS. [17553]

Mr. Boswell: The privatisation of ADAS will realise some £23.5 million for the taxpayer. ADAS's work for MAFF and the Welsh office is now on a sound contractual basis and future liabilities on Government have been minimised. ADAS will be free to develop its business in response to customer demand.

Running Costs

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to the answer of 17 January, Official Report, columns 398-400, on administration costs, if he will provide a breakdown of the additional running costs provision for the Agriculture Departments.[17956]

Mr. Boswell [holding answer 27 February 1997]: Details on the additional administration provisions for the Agriculture Departments to fund BSE measures are below. The figures for MAFF include amounts for enforcement costs specified bovine material controls and research and development.

£ million

1996-971997-981998-991999-00
Intervention board16.513.413.112.9
MAFF52.255.354.454.1
Scottish Office2222
Total70.770.769.569

Flock Mark

Mr. Morley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his Answer of 20 February, Official Report, column 658, if he will set out the method whereby a flock mark to all registered holdings ensured that each holding was individually identifiable. [18998]

Mrs. Browning: Each flock has been allocated an individual alpha-numeric mark.

Payment of Bills

Mr. Betts: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, what percentage of bills to his Department were paid (a) in accordance with agreed contractual conditions and (b) within 30 days of receiving goods and services or the presentation of a valid invoice where no contractual conditions applied in the last year for which figures are available. [18817]

Mr. Boswell: I refer the Hon. Member to the answer given by the Economic Secretary on 17 December 1996, Official Report, columns 506-507. Any additional information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.