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West Devon Meats

Mr. Breed: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to compensate farmers who

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incur extra transport costs as a result of the withdrawal of the contract with West Devon Meats to slaughter cattle under the over thirty months scheme. [101912]

Ms Quin [holding answer 13 December 1999]: There are no plans to provide such compensation. Neither was such compensation paid at the time of the previous tender. It is the responsibility of the producers to transport their Over Thirty Months Scheme (OTMS) animals from the farm to the point of slaughter. The Government's responsibility is to ensure that there is a sufficient number of access points into the scheme, and that they are well distributed having regard to the main production areas. The outcome of the tender for OTMS slaughtering services, together with the unchanged network of 170 markets registered to collect OTMS cattle (10 of which are in Devon), fully meet these requirements.

EU Leader Plus Programme

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the United Kingdom's share of the EU Leader Plus programme; which member states receive more funding under the programme than the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. [105663]

Mr. Morley: The United Kingdom's share of the EU Leader Plus Community Initiative is 106 million euro out of 2,020 million euro for the period 2000-06. The Member States receiving more funding than the United Kingdom are Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal. The European Commission have said that allocations to Member States were based on allocations under previous programmes and objective criteria such as population in rural areas, utilised agricultural area and population density.


Mr. Hunter: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his policy in respect of ensuring that future arrangements provide a sufficient supply of imported raw sugar to maintain the basic level of cane refining. [105491]

Ms Quin: The UK attaches considerable importance to the maintenance of adequate raw sugar supplies to the cane refining industry, which produces about half of our sugar. We therefore need to keep this consideration firmly in mind in forthcoming discussions about the EU sugar regime, and preferential access for cane sugar.

Pig Sector

Mr. Breed: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the investigations of his meat trader adviser in respect of the pig sector; and when his findings will be published. [106865]

Ms Quin: The meat trade adviser is in contact with all the major British retail and catering groups and has had several useful meetings with key industry organisations on the issue of misleading labelling of pigmeat products. Progress is being made and labels are being changed. Although not produced in a form which can readily be published, the meat trade adviser's findings are made known as he discusses his progress regularly with the National Pig Association and other industry bodies.

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New guidelines on less ambiguous country of origin labelling will shortly be issued to Trading Standards Officers by my Department's Food Labelling and Standards Division.

Mr. Cawsey: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made in establishing a state aid scheme for the pig sector in agreement with the EU. [105139]

Ms Quin [holding answer 17 January 2000]: The European Commission has made clear in correspondence and at meetings that it will not sanction any scheme which fails to meet the rules. The rules preclude the payment of operating aids, i.e. subsidies that are simply aimed at improving the producer's position in the market. However, we continue to consider possible ways forward in consultation with industry representatives.


Mr. Breed: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which interested organisations besides the NFU he has contacted concerning the level and costs of regulation affecting farming in (a) the United Kingdom and (b) other member states in the last 12 months. [106868]

Ms Quin: The Department consults all interested organisations on regulatory proposals for which it is responsible as a matter of course. Further, a wide range of interested organisations responded to our open invitation to identify regulatory burdens on agriculture as part of the review launched in September 1999. The three Red Tape working groups we set up between them consulted over 300 organisations; the full lists of consultees are appended to their reports available in the Library of the House.

Consultation with organisations in other Member States is a matter for national authorities. However, we maintain regular contact with Commissioner Fischler and European ministerial colleagues.

New Forest Draghounds

Mr. Michael J. Foster: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food who has the authority to grant the New Forest Draghounds a licence to operate in the New Forest. [106993]

Mr. Morley: The Forestry Commission has authority to grant licences for activities on the Crown Lands of the New Forest.

Press Releases

Mr. Breed: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many press releases have been published by his Department since 1995. [106991]

Mr. Morley: The number of press releases published by MAFF since 1995 are as follows:


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Mr. Baker: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to monitor the incidence of (a) rodenticide levels in higher food-chain wildlife and (b) resistance in rats to rodenticides; and if he will make a statement. [106661]

Ms Quin [holding answer 25 January 2000]: The Wildlife Incidents Investigation Scheme collects reports of wildlife deaths that may have been caused by rodenticides or other pesticides. All incidents accepted into the Scheme are investigated and the pesticide involved, if any, identified. The results of investigations may be used in a review of the pesticide approval and in enforcement action. In 1998, 49 cases were found to involve anticoagulant rodenticides.

The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions' latest English House Condition Survey, published on 5 January, showed generally low levels of rodent infestation. Separate work carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on levels of resistance to anticoagulant rodenticides in rats on farms showed that there is not a general problem.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food also carries out research to identify issues affecting the development and spread of resistance and the risk to non-target wildlife species arising from the use of rodenticides.

Departmental Employment

Mr. Breed: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many people are employed by his Department; and what was the equivalent figure five years ago. [106989]

Mr. Morley: On 1 October 1994, there were 10,793 staff working in my Department and its agencies.

On 1 October 1999 (the latest information available) there were 9,782 staff working in MAFF and its agencies undertaking broadly comparable functions. In addition, there are 1,482 staff working for the Meat Hygiene Service who undertake functions which were the responsibility of local authorities in 1994. These figures are expressed in Full Time Equivalent terms. (Total = 11,264 staff).

Intervention Board

Jane Griffiths: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he has received the PricewaterhouseCoopers' report which includes a review of the Agricultural Intervention Board; and if he will make a statement; [107044]

Ms Quin: My right hon. Friend the Minister has received PricewaterhouseCoopers' report on CAP Scheme Administration in England.

The report considers the current arrangements for administration of CAP schemes against the background of the Modernising Government agenda, and focuses in particular on the scope for improving service delivery to claimants and making best use of IT developments. It

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recommends that the CAP scheme payment functions of MAFF in England and of the Intervention Board in the UK should be merged to create a new CAP administration organisation supported by a single state of the art IT system.

My right hon. Friend is now considering these recommendations. Any radical reorganisation of CAP administration will be considered in the context of the Spending Review 2000. Decisions on the future of the Intervention Board will be taken in conjunction with the devolved administrations, since the Board reports to Agriculture Ministers in all four parts of the United Kingdom.

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