Previous Section Index Home Page


Sheep Dip

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many people have been recorded as having died as a result of exposure to sheep dip in each of the last 10 years. [42239]

Mr. Rooker: Under the suspected adverse reaction surveillance scheme, officials at the Veterinary Medicines Directorate are aware of a total of four deaths in connection with organophosphate sheep dips since the records were computerised in 1984.

Public Bodies

Jackie Ballard: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what is the average attendance fee of (a) male and (b) female members of boards of non-departmental public bodies responsible to his Department; [42833]

Mr. Morley: The majority of board members of non-departmental public bodies give their time and services voluntarily and receive no payment other than normal travel and subsistence expenses. Where members do receive remuneration, this can vary between an annual salary, an honorarium or an attendance fee (which itself can be a daily rate of a half-daily rate, or calculated on a per meeting or per case basis). Individuals' remuneration therefore is not directly comparable. Full details of all payments to board members of non-departmental bodies, by gender, are given in the Cabinet Office publication "Public Bodies". Copies of "Public Bodies 1997" are available in the Library of the House.

Flood Defence

Ms Keeble: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information was held by his Department on the state of flood defences prior to the current exercise by the Environment Agency to compile an asset register of flood defences. [42384]

Mr. Morley: This Department holds a summary of the results of the survey of sea and tidal defences undertaken by the Environment Agency's predecessor body (the National Rivers Authority). With regard to inland flood defences, I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave on 8 May 1998, Official Report, column 516. A central national record of the state of repair of inland flood defences does not exist.

20 May 1998 : Column: 424

Ms Keeble: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the Environment Agency began compiling its asset register of flood defences; and when it expects to finish it. [42381]

Mr. Morley: Regions of the Environment Agency (and its predecessor bodies) have held information on the condition of flood defence assets for many years. However the first nationally consistent survey of sea defence assets, covering 805 km of coastline, was undertaken in 1991. In April 1997 the Agency introduced the national Flood Defence Management System for the identification, justification and prioritisation of programmes of work; an asset register of defences is included in this computer system. The Agency expects to complete the major exercise of converting existing data, collecting up-to-date information and collating in to the system on some 35,000 km of "main" river flood defence assets by 2000.

Inquiries for Information

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his Department operates a monitoring exercise of persistent inquirers for information. [42631]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 19 May 1998]: Although requests for information under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information are routinely monitored, it has not been found necessary to introduce specific procedures for persistent inquiries. The Department and its agencies follow the guidance on interpretation of the Code issued by the Office of Public Service.

Quarantine Kennels

Mr. Gale: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answer of 13 May 1998, Official Report, column 145, on quarantine kennels, what were the findings of his inspectors' visits to the quarantine kennels named in the television programme transmitted on 5 May; and what action will be taken by his Department as a result of those visits against (a) those responsible for the conditions and (b) his Department's veterinary officers. [42688]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 19 May 1998]: Dover and Folkestone Quarantine Kennels was inspected on 6 May. Following this inspection, the authorisation of part of the premises was withdrawn. Minor deficiencies were found in the remainder of the premises and the owner has been required to carry out remedial work by 18 May. Rutland Quarantine Kennels was inspected on 7 May. The premises were found to comply with the standard requirements relating to disease security.

The allegations made about conditions in these premises at the time of filming are still under investigation.

Milk Marque

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to review the rules governing the way Milk Marque operates, with particular reference to the way it sells milk; and if he will make a statement. [42481]

20 May 1998 : Column: 425

Mr. Rooker: The competition authorities are responsible for these matters. At the request of the Director General of Fair Trading, the Monopolies and Mergers Commission are currently examining the supply of raw milk in Great Britain.

Farming Issues (Discussion Forums)

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what forums exist for the discussion of farming issues between the Government, farmers and other connected parties; and what plans he has to create additional forums. [42489]

Mr. Rooker: Ministers and officials meet farmers and other organisations on a regular basis to discuss issues of interest to them. In addition farmers and others are represented in: Meetings by Ministers on regional tours; Regional Liaison Groups, chaired by Regional Directors; National Agri-Environmental Forum and Regional Agri-Environmental Consultation Groups; County Targeting meetings for the Countryside Stewardship Scheme; Regular Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) Agreement Holders meetings; Liaison Group meetings for Individual ESAs; Pesticides Forum; and other forums for discussion.

Food Standards Agency

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what jurisdiction the Food Standards Agency will have over the production of foreign food imported into the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. [42486]

Mr. Rooker: The Food Safety Act 1990 requires that all food offered for sale in this country must comply with food safety requirements. The proposed Food Standards Agency will have no jurisdiction over the production of food in other countries. It will negotiate in the EU and other international bodies to ensure that the high regulatory standards which apply to producers in this country are fully reflected in the legal framework which governs international trade in food.

Common Agricultural Policy

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has made to European Commission officials dealing with the CAP about the levels of prices for products paid to British farmers. [42485]

Mr. Rooker: We maintain regular contact with the European Commission on all matters regarding the CAP mechanisms which influence the prices received by British farmers for their products.

Badgers

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what discussions he has had with farmers relating to diseased badgers. [42484]

Mr. Rooker: I met representatives from the National Farmers Union on 19 May to discuss implementation of the Krebs report on TB in cattle and badgers.

20 May 1998 : Column: 426

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will assess the advantages of extending the right of farmers to cull diseased badgers; and if he will make a statement. [42483]

Mr. Rooker: Badgers are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and may not be killed, taken or their setts interfered with except under licence. The Report on bovine tuberculosis in cattle and badgers by Professor Krebs and the Independent Scientific Review Group makes clear that there is at present no scientific basis for a general policy of killing badgers to control bovine TB. It recommends a proper experimental study to determine the effectiveness of badger culling as a disease control strategy. We are planning such a study and have meanwhile brought to an end the "interim strategy" of limited badger culling by Ministry staff. In the light of the Krebs report, we see no basis for issuing licences to farmers to kill badgers to prevent the spread of bovine TB to cattle.

Green Pound

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received from farmers about the revaluation of the green pound from 1999. [42482]

Mr. Rooker: We have received a number of representations from farmers and organisations representing farmers regarding the introduction of new agrimonetary arrangements from 1 January 1999. We remain in close contact with all interested organisations on this subject.


Next Section Index Home Page