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Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the assumption in the Red Book, page 108, that unemployment will remain at 2 million until 2001-02. [8619]

Mr. Darling [holding answer 24 July 1997]: The figures on page 108 of the Red Book illustrate the impact of changing the assumptions underlying the public finances projections. Had the long-standing convention of assuming unemployment would remain flat at recent levels been used in the November 1996 Budget, unemployment would have been projected at 2 million, adding £500 million to the public sector borrowing requirement in 1996-97, rising to £1 billion in 1999-2000. The July 1997 Budget returned to the convention of assuming flat unemployment. As set out in paragraph 4.28, unemployment was assumed constant at its recent level of 1.65 million. This assumption was approved by the National Audit Office as


Public Appointments

Mr. Mike Hall: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list (a) the chairpersons, and (b) the chief executives, of (i) the Equal Opportunities Commission (North West), (ii) the East Manchester Partnership, (iii) Kirkby Stephen Economic Development, (iv) the Mersey Partnership, (v) Moss Side and Hulme Business Support, (vi) North West Partnership, (vii) Preston Partnership, (viii) Ribble Valley Partnership, (ix) Inward (North West), (x) Merseyside development corporation, (xi) Derbyshire enterprise board, (xii) Furness Enterprise, (xiii) Trafford Park development corporation, (xiv) West Cumbria development corporation, (xv) Central Manchester development corporation, (xvi) Hulme city challenge, (xvii) Bolton city challenge, (xviii) Blackburn Partnership, (xix) Wigan city challenge, (xx) Sefton city challenge, (xxi) Liverpool city challenge, (xxii) Wirral Citylands, (xxiii) St. Helens First, (xiv) Ribble Valley enterprise agency, (xxv) English Estates (North West), (xxvi) National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside, (xxvii) Furness Enterprise Ltd., (xxviii) West Cumbria development agency, (xxix) English Partnerships, (xxx) CEWTEC Ltd., (xxxi) Rochdale development agency, (xxxii) Merseyside training and enterprise council and (xxxiii) Liverpool housing action trust. [10267]

Dr. David Clark: Details of appointments to the boards of executive non-departmental public bodies--such as English Partnerships, National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside, housing action trusts and Merseyside and Trafford Park development corporations--are freely available on the Internet, For ease of reference, however, I have listed the names of chairmen of these bodies:

English PartnershipsLord Walker
Liverpool housing action trustMrs. Paula Ridley
Merseyside development corporationSir Desmond Pitcher
National Museums and Galleries on MerseysideDavid McDonnell
Trafford Park development corporationJ. W. Morgan

Information on chief executives and on membership of local public bodies is not held centrally.

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Department for International Development

Mr. Dafis: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on (a) co-operation and (b) joint initiatives between his Department and the Department for International Development. [10236]

Mr. Rooker: The two Departments work closely together on matters of mutual interest, including the effects of agricultural policies on developing countries. We are collaborating on a study to examine how reform of the common agricultural policy can be of benefit to developing countries.


Sir Richard Body: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will oppose any ban on the use of phenylbutazone imposed by the European Union.[11007]

Mr. Rooker: Phenylbutazone is currently being evaluated within the European Union for the purpose of fixing a maximum residue limit. If an MRL cannot be set, in principle the administration of phenylbutazone to a food-producing animal would not be permitted. However, in that event, the United Kingdom would use a procedure agreed with the European Commission--if a horse is not destined for human consumption, an MRL will not be required. Phenylbutazone could therefore continue to be authorised for use in horses in the United Kingdom. There would be a requirement that the product should be clearly marked to indicate that it cannot be used in any animal intended for human consumption.

Live Animal Exports

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he has taken to ensure that sheep exported from the United Kingdom are identified in such a way that they can be traced back to the farm of birth to comply with the requirements of EC directive 92/102; and if he will make a statement. [10278]

Mr. Rooker: For sheep and goats, EC directive 92/102 has been implemented by the Sheep and Goats (Records, Identification and Movement) Order 1996. This legislation requires that sheep and goats going for export must have an ear tag or tattoo indicating their country of origin and a flock or herd mark either of the consignor of the sheep for export or of a previous keeper of the animal. The legislation provides for a system of identification and

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movement records for tracing sheep and goats. We are currently reviewing pre-export procedures for live animals.

Plant Passports

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will press the European Commission to reimburse nursery owners for the cost of alternations to the wording on plant passports since 1993.[10338]

Mr. Rooker: It is unlikely to be in the United Kingdom's interest to press for additional European Community expenditure of this kind. EC requirements on the wording of plant passports have not altered since 1993, but separate EC legislation on suppliers' documents for certain plant material was implemented in 1995. This is being applied flexibly by allowing suppliers to choose the most appropriate way of providing the information that is not already given on plant passports, in order to minimise costs.

Milk Quota

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the United Kingdom's milk quota in the last three years; and what was the United Kingdom milk consumption in the same period. [10359]

Mr. Rooker: The United Kingdom's milk quota in the three-year period starting April 1994 was about 14.2 billion litres. Our total liquid milk consumption was about 5.5 billion litres. However, taking account of processed dairy products, we were about 90 per cent. self-sufficient in butter fat.

Cattle Slaughter Scheme

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proportion of cattle slaughtered under the over-30-months cattle slaughter scheme during 1997 were cull cows. [10161]

Mr. Rooker: Abattoir returns indicate that around 90 per cent. of animals slaughtered under the over-30-months scheme so far this year were cull animals--cull cows and bulls.

Dr. Lewis: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the savings achieved by the imposition of a maximum weight limit on cattle entering the over-30-months cattle slaughter scheme. [10162]

Mr. Rooker: The average weight of cattle entering the scheme to date has been of the order of 580 to 590 kg. On that basis, a saving of around £12 to £18 per animal could result from the imposition of the maximum weight limit. However, the actual savings that arise will depend on the weight and number of animals entering the scheme in the future.

Dr. Lewis: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what consultations he undertook with the farming industry before imposing the recently announced price reductions and maximum weight limit under the over-30-months cattle slaughter scheme. [10163]

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Mr. Rooker: My colleagues and I have had several meetings with representatives of the farming industry since 1 May. There was no specific consultation on the reduction in the compensation rate for cull cows and the introduction of a maximum weight limit before the European Commission made its proposals, which the Government supported. However, Ministers are fully aware of farmers' concerns over the state of the industry and their views on the over-30-months scheme in particular.

Mr. Steen: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the reduction in public expenditure from the introduction of reduced grants for the slaughter of over-30-month-old cattle in each of the next three years; and what assessment he has made of the effect of the reduction on farmers.[10632]

Mr. Rooker: The effect of the change in the over-30-months scheme will depend on the number of animals entering the scheme and their payable weights. Gross scheme expenditure is likely to be reduced by £35 million to £40 million in a full year.

The effect on individual farmers will depend on individual circumstances, including their culling programmes and the weight of animals presented for slaughter.

Mr. Faber: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list those abattoirs in the Wessex region eligible to slaughter under the over-30-months scheme (a) on 1 May 1996, (b) on 1 May 1997 and (c) at present. [11055]

Mr. Rooker: The information requested is as follows:

1 May 1996Southern Counties Fresh Foods, Langport
1 May 1997Southern Counties, Fresh Foods, Langport Bridgewater Beef, Taunton S. J. Norman and Son, Bridport Wholesale Meat Traders, Bath
PresentBridgewater Beef, Taunton S. J. Norman and Son, Bridport Alec Jarrett, Bristol

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