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Small Business Loan Scheme

Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, pursuant to his answer of 20 May 1998, Official Report, column 380, if he will place a copy of the independent evaluation of the Small Business Loan Scheme in the Library. [47077]

Mr. Wilson: Yes. I have arranged for a copy to be placed in the Library.

Reconditioned Diesel Engines

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from the recycling industry about SRO3 in so far as it prevents the use of reconditioned diesel engines to produce bio-oil. [46806]

Mr. Wilson: Officials in The Scottish Office received a recent representation about this issue from Ormrod Diesels, Skelmersdale, Lancashire. The company was advised to raise their concerns again in any consultation following the Government review of renewables policy.

Health Service Review Panel (Neonatal Deaths)

Ms Squire: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) when the report by the independent review panel into

23 Jun 1998 : Column: 484

neonatal deaths and disabilities at the Forth Park Hospital, Kirkcaldy, was passed to the Kirkcaldy Acute Hospital NHS Trust; [46789]

Mr. Galbraith: A draft of the Independent Audit Panel report commissioned by Kirkcaldy Acute Hospital NHS Trust and Fife Health Board was received by them on 9 February 1998. I understand that the final report is likely to be published within the next 2-3 weeks. The Trust and Board have indicated that all 34 families who submitted written complaints will receive a copy of the report.

Further Education

Mr. Welsh: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the Further Education Funding Council, with particular reference to (a) its membership, (b) its policy remit, (c) the openness and transparency of its operation and (d) its relationship with the colleges as regards long-term funding commitments. [47252]

Mr. Wilson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State intends to establish the Scottish Further Education Funding Council on 1 January 1999, or as soon as possible thereafter.

The post of chairman of the new Council was advertised earlier this month. Advertisements relating to membership will appear shortly.

The precise range of functions to be delegated to the new Council, and therefore its policy remit, are still under consideration. The new council will be expected to conform to the highest standards of openness and accountability which the Government require of all non-departmental public bodies and, in carrying out its functions, to establish effective working relations with the FE colleges.

Mr. Welsh: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will ensure that no staff member at a college or university in Scotland is made redundant or forced to take early retirement for purely financial reasons. [47250]

Mr. Wilson: Decisions on employment of staff are entirely a matter for colleges and universities.

Freshwater Fishing

Mr. Canavan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking to improve access to freshwater fishing. [45577]

Mr. Macdonald: The Government will continue to encourage the provision of greater access for public angling consistent with sound management and conservation. We have also made it clear that action will be taken when access proposed as part of Protection Orders granted under the Freshwater and Salmon Fisheries (Scotland) Act 1976 fails to materialise or is withdrawn.

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AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Pesticides

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which approved pesticides are considered (a) systemic and (b) non-systemic. [46699]

Mr. Rooker: To classify all approved pesticides as systemic or non-systemic pesticides would incur disproportionate cost. Pesticides are approved only if they can be used safely and any resulting residues in crops are at an acceptably low level.

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list all pesticides containing organophosphates currently approved in the UK. [46698]

Mr. Rooker: I have placed a list of the organophosphate-based pesticide products currently approved by the Department for use in the United Kingdom in the Library of the House.

Dairy Farming

Mr. Healey: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what factors underlie the compensation rates paid to (a) dairy farmers and (b) lowland suckler producers. [46458]

Mr. Rooker: Dairy farmers and lowland suckler producers may benefit from payments under a range of Schemes. Most of the terms and conditions of these Schemes are determined at the EU level.

If my hon. Friend has queries relating to a particular Scheme, I would be happy to address them.

Live Animal Exports

Mr. Baker: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Dr. Palmer) of 5 May 1998, Official Report, columns 303-04, concerning live animal exports, if, in the case of pigs, he has received all the completed route plans certifying that the journeys took place in accordance with the statutory requirements. [44296]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 8 June 1998]: Central records are not kept which show the numbers of route plans returned. The arrangements in place are designed to follow up instances of non-return of route plans, so that either the returned plan is held at the Animal Health Divisional Office that issued it in case queries subsequently arise, or the failure to return the plan is logged against the record of the transporter concerned to enable enforcement action to be considered. We attach importance to making these arrangements as effective as possible and have recruited a local authority enforcement officer to assist us in this.

Bovine Tuberculosis

Mr. Paice: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects to receive the report and advice from the Expert Group under Professor Bourne's chairmanship regarding the implementation of the report by Professor Krebs on badgers and bovine tuberculosis. [47256]

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Mr. Rooker: I expect to receive the Expert Group's first report, on the design of the culling experiment recommended by Professor Krebs, shortly.

Mr. Paice: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will announce the results of his consultation following the publication of Professor Kreb's report on badgers and bovine tuberculosis. [47257]

Mr. Rooker: I am hoping to make an announcement before the House rises for the summer recess.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will report on the results of the Thornbury experiment. [46763]

Mr. Rooker: The policy employed in the area around Thornbury was not conceived as a scientific experiment but as a means of controlling the spread of tuberculosis from badgers to cattle. This involved the systematic removal of badgers from a defined geographical area around Thornbury, Gloucestershire during the period from 1975 to 1981, after which re-colonisation was allowed. The average incidence of TB in cattle herds fell from 5.6 per cent. in the 10 years prior to the clearance, to 0.45 per cent. in the 15 years following the clearance.

Professor Krebs' recent report on Bovine Tuberculosis in Cattle and Badgers concludes that, whilst the policy applied in the Thornbury area provides strong circumstantial evidence to suggest that badgers represent a significant source of Mycobacterium bovis infection in cattle, it does not prove a causal link, nor does it constitute a proper experimental basis to enable conclusions to be drawn about the effectiveness, or cost-effectiveness, of different badger culling strategies.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what validated results might be expected, and when, from the experiment proposed in the Krebs report. [46759]

Mr. Rooker: The purpose of the experiment proposed by Professor Krebs is to provide the data needed to evaluate the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of badger culling as a means of controlling TB in cattle. I am awaiting advice from the Expert Group which is working on the detailed design of the experiment, including the data which must be collected.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will meet Professor Stephen Harris of the University of Bristol School of Biological Sciences. [46764]

Mr. Rooker: I have no plans to meet Professor Harris in the near future. However, I met him last year with the Parliamentary Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley), who meets and corresponds with him regularly.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the scientific, methodological and humane objections which he has received to the proposed Krebs experiment. [46762]

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Mr. Rooker: A number of such objections have been raised, and have been referred to the Expert Group to be taken into account during the work of designing the experiment. The objections featuring most frequently in correspondence have concerned the risks that denial of access to private land, or interference by badger rights activists or farmers illegally culling badgers, could undermine the statistical validity of the experiment; the numbers of badgers which could be killed; the possibility that lactating sows might be culled; and the fear that snares could be used to trap badgers. There have also been claims that the experiment is unnecessary both because badger culling has been shown not to work, and because it has been proved effective.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will estimate the range of increase expected in TB herd breakdowns in 1999. [46758]

Mr. Rooker: It is too early to make informed estimates of the number of TB herd breakdowns likely in 1999.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list and summarise each of the major reports on badgers and bovine TB considered by his Department since 1970. [46756]

Mr. Rooker: There have been three major reports on badgers and bovine TB commissioned and considered by this Department since 1970:




Copies of these reports, each of which contains a summary of the main findings/recommendations, are available in the Library of the House.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will publish a detailed response to the letter to him dated 6 May about the Krebs report and the proposed badger culling experiment from Professor Stephen Harris of the University of Bristol School of Biological Sciences. [46761]

Mr. Rooker: I replied to Professor Harris's letter on 22 June, inviting him to discuss his concerns in detail with officials.

23 Jun 1998 : Column: 488

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many badgers proposed to be killed in the Krebs experiment are expected to be (a) snared and (b) trapped. [46760]

Mr. Rooker: We shall take no decisions on the conduct of the culling experiment until we have received advice from the Expert Group. This will include advice on the method or methods to be used to capture badgers.


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