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Civil Service Staff

Mr. Rhodri Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of civil service staff of grade 5 and above within his Department (a) have spent their entire civil service career within his Department, (b) have had secondments to (i) the private sector and (ii) other Departments and (c) have come from other Departments. [26033]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 28 January 1998]: Of civil service staff of grade 5 and above currently within the Department:


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Submariners (Exposure to Radiation)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many former and serving submariners on nuclear submarines have been diagnosed as suffering from exposure to harmful radiation. [26284]

Mr. Spellar: The Ministry of Defence conforms with national legislation on ionising radiation and holds all those records which it is required to keep on classified radiation workers, including submariners. With regard to mortality from cancer among submariners, an examination conducted under the auspices of the Medical Research Council has concluded that working in submarines was not associated with any increased cancer mortality.

Tornados (Gulf Military Operations)

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the role of the RAF Tornados based in Saudi Arabia in respect of military operations in the Gulf. [26283]

Mr. George Robertson: RAF Tornados based in Saudi Arabia contribute to coalition operations over the southern no fly zone above Iraq, monitoring Iraqi compliance with UN resolutions.

Meat

Charlotte Atkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what criteria are used to determine the source of the meat eaten by British armed forces in the United Kingdom [25112]

Mr. Spellar: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key) on 19 January Official Report, columns 415-16.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Swine Fever

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what additional steps he has taken to protect pigs in the United Kingdom from swine fever in Germany. [25270]

Mr. Rooker: The potential problems associated with classical swine fever in Germany are not new. There has been an on-going problem with CSF in the Community for 10 years, but the disease has not spread to the UK.

European Community legislation lays down control measures, including movement restrictions, to prevent the spread of CSF. The situation is kept under continuous review by the EC Standing Veterinary Committee on which the UK is represented. The SVC may adopt additional controls on an ad hoc basis as and when the need arises. In the past few days, the SVC has imposed a prohibition on exports of pigs and pig semen from specified areas in the region of MecklenburgVorpommern in Germany.

In the UK, those connected with the pig industry have been alerted to keep a careful watch for any sign of the disease spreading to the UK from the continent. There are some requirements laid down in Community legislation for the cleansing and disinfection of vehicles used for the transport of pigs in infected countries. Hauliers and those

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involved in the export of pigs and also other livestock and horses to the continent from Great Britain have been reminded of the need to follow good practice by properly cleaning and disinfecting all empty vehicles to minimise the risk of introducing the disease to Great Britain.

European Funding

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action the Government will take to ensure those sectors of the British economy previously benefitting from European Structural Funding will continue to benefit under the new Agenda 2000 and CAP reform proposals, with particular reference to objective 5b funding. [25764]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 27 Janaury 1998]: The European Commission has yet to put forward formal proposals for regulations implementing the ideas contained in its Agenda 2000 documents. In the negotiations on those proposals, which we expect to be published shortly, we will seek to achieve the best possible outcome for the United Kingdom.

Compensation

Mr. Swinney: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list (a) by sector and (b) in total, the maximum amount of compensation the Government are empowered to distribute to the agriculture sector in the United Kingdom in the current financial year in respect of the appreciation of the pound; what percentage of each available amount would by paid by (i) the EU and (ii) the United Kingdom; what percentage of the total amount available for each sector will be paid to farmers in the current financial year; and if he will make a statement. [26001]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 28 January 1998]: The maximum total aid which could currently be paid in the UK this year is £464 million. The breakdown of the maximum which could be paid to each eligible sector is as follows: cereals £143.5 million; dairy £221.5 million; beef and veal £77 million; sugar beet £22 million. The UK can reclaim in full from the EU budget any spending up to half the £464 million maximum aid. In practice, however, the UK Exchequer would bear around 71 per cent. of the cost of the EU reimbursed expenditure.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food announced on 22 December a package of aid to the livestock sector worth £85 million.

BSE

Mr. Dawson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will extend the remit of the BSE inquiry to include events up to 31 December. [25614]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 28 January 1998]: No. BSE and nvCJD are on-going problems. Current events are less suitable for study by an inquiry. Any extension of the period would add greatly to the inquiry's scope and the time it would take.

Agri-monetary Compensation

Mr. Dawson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what factors govern the limits set in agri-monetary compensation. [25670]

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Mr. Rooker [holding answer 28 January 1998]: Council regulation 724/97 lays down common rules for establishing the maximum levels of agrimonetary compensation which may be paid in member states which have undergone "appreciable" revaluations of their green rate.

Sugar Beet Research and Education Committee

Mr. Peter Bradley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the future of the Sugar Beet Research and Education Committee. [26806]

Mr. Morley: The Sugar Beet Research and Education Committee has been the subject of a non-departmental public body prior options review. Departments are asked to look at the functions the body carries out; to assess whether they are still needed; and to decide whether the current arrangements provide the best way of carrying them out.

The SBREC has carried out its functions well, and I am very grateful to its past and present chairman and members, who have given valuable service to the industry over the years. Although the committee has no statutory basis, its work is linked to certain statutory arrangements which date back to 1938 and require my Department to be closely involved with the research programme. I believe there is no need for the Government to be so closely involved in these arrangements, but that there is a case for industry-funded research and education to continue, and that it would be more appropriate, if the industry agrees, for these to be under the aegis of a development council for sugar beet. My Department is therefore consulting interested parties on a proposal to establish such a council to take on the functions currently undertaken by the SBREC.

In deciding whether to establish a development council, Ministers have to follow the procedures in the Industrial Organisation and Development Act 1947. In particular, they need to be satisfied that its establishment is desired by a substantial number of persons engaged in the industry.

Cattle Cull

Mr. Dawson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answer of 15 January 1998, Official Report, column 294, in what circumstances firms would be permitted to contract privately with farmers to incinerate over thirty month cattle carcases without reference to the Intervention Board executive agency. [26246]

Mr. Rooker: Compensation for farmers disposing of cattle over thirty months old, apart from those suspected of having BSE for which separate arrangements apply, is available only through the over-30-months scheme run by the Intervention Board. Incineration of OTMS carcases is permissible only under the control and supervision of the board at premises contracted for the purpose.

The Intervention Board has terminated the restricted stage of its tender as far as the incineration only element is concerned so that it can pursue options more likely to meet its large scale disposal requirements. However, it will continue to contract, as and when the need arises, with incinerator operators who have properly authorised

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and licensed facilities for the disposal of carcases of animals slaughtered on farm and offered to the scheme as casualties, usually via the helpline run for the board by the Licensed Animal Slaughterers and Salvage Association.


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