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Telecommunication Masts

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to publish the Stewart report on mobile phone masts; and if he will make a statement. [114710]

Yvette Cooper: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for South-East Cornwall (Mr. Breed) on 16 March 2000, Official Report, column 300W.


Bloody Sunday Inquiry

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will offer immunity from prosecution under the Official Secrets Act 1989 to enable former employees of military intelligence to testify anonymously before the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. [114645]

The Solicitor-General: On 22 February 1999, the then Attorney-General wrote to Lord Saville of Newdigate setting out the terms of an undertaking he gave in relation to witnesses appearing before the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. The terms of the undertaking were as follows:

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The Attorney General concluded his letter by stating that


GM Seeds

Mr. Robertson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to add genetically modified seed to the National Seed Register; and if he will make a statement. [111779]

Ms Quin: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne) on 13 March 2000, Official Report, column 47W.

GMO Field Trials

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to prevent the destruction of GMO field trials. [112255]

Ms Quin [holding answer 8 March 2000]: The Government deplore vandalism of GM crop trials. My Department has liaised with other Departments, the police and the industry to alert them to the risk of vandalism, so that measures can be taken to prevent it.

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Ms Walley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent representations he has received in respect of the two metre rule in relation to hedgerows and grassy banks bordering arable land eligible for crop payments. [114112]

Ms Quin: Representations concerning the two metre maximum width of field margins for inclusion in claims for arable area aid under the Integrated Administration and Control System have been received from the Allerton Research and Educational Trust, the British Institute of Agricultural Consultants, the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers, the Country Landowners Association, the Countryside Agency, English Nature, Essex Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, the National Farmers Union, the National Trust, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Somerset Wildlife Trust, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, the Tenant Farmers Association, Wildlife and Countryside Link and from a number of other organisations, private individuals and companies.

Ms Walley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the length of hedgerows in the UK which are more than two metres wide and which border land affected by CAP arable crop payments. [114137]

Ms Quin: No such estimates have been made. However, information is available on the percentage of all fields inspected by MAFF in 1999 on which arable area payments were made on the basis of full Ordnance Survey areas where the field margins were found to be wider than two metres. I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. Member for South-East Cornwall (Mr. Breed) on 9 March 2000, Official Report, column 798W.

Ms Walley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he will refer the issue of arable crop payments affecting hedgerows and grassy banks to the Green Ministers' Committee; [114114]

Ms Quin: It is not proposed to refer the issue referred to by my hon. Friend to the Green Ministers' Committee, concerning as it does the implementation of EU legislation and advise from the European Commission and the European Court of Auditors. MAFF and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions are, however, in close touch on this issue.

European Commission Payments

Ms Walley: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what meetings he (a) has recently held and (b) plans to hold with the European Commission in respect of environmental integration and arable land crop payments. [114113]

Ms Quin: My right hon. Friend the Minister raised the environmental consequences of field margin rules for arable area payment claims at meetings with the European Commission on 1 February and 9 March. The need for

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any future meetings on this subject will depend upon the outcome of current discussions between my officials and the Commission.


Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what measures he is proposing to reduce the impact of the strong pound on British farmers. [114337]

Ms Quin: Over the last three years we have paid nearly £400 million in agrimonetary compensation. We plan to pay a further £88 million this year and £44 million next year in agrimonetary compensation to beef, sheep and arable farmers.

Any additional optional agrimonetary compensation will have to be considered against other calls on public expenditure.

Beef Subsidies

Mr. Cox: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how much was paid in subsidies to beef farmers in the United Kingdom in 1999. [114249]

Ms Quin: Payments by the Exchequer in support of the beef industry for the financial years 1998-99 and 1999-2000 are outlined in the table. It should be noted that not all subsidies are paid directly to farmers. Figures for 1999-2000 are estimates.

April/March (financial years)
£ million

Suckler Cow Premium Scheme339.5219.9
Beef Special Premium Scheme294.0220.1
Beef Deseasonalisation Scheme5.63.0
Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowances: cattle70.356.5
Internal market measures2.02.4
Intervention purchases/sales-29.3-85.8
Intervention storage costs24.29.9
Export refunds-1.90.6
Over Thirty Month scheme purchases263.8248.4
Over Thirty Month Scheme slaughter, disposal costs etc.116.2127.7
Calf Processing Aid Scheme51.010.0
Selective cull18.92.2
Other measures5.20.5

Red Tape

Mr. Paice: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to the Government's response to Recommendation 4 of his Red Tape Working Group on the Meat Industry, whether he intends unannounced visits to replace existing procedures or be additional to them. [113884]

Ms Quin [holding answer 10 March 2000]: A system of unannounced inspections is seen as integral to the introduction of a full Hazard Analysis Critical Control and Point approach as recommended by the Meat Industry Red Tape Working Group. They would therefore replace the current inspection system, but amendments to existing EU legislation are required before HACCP could be introduced. However, the Working Group recommended the earliest possible introduction of a regime of

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unannounced, thorough, targeted inspections of plants. We are currently considering the costs and benefits of adding such a system to the existing controls.

GM Produce

Mr. David Heath: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made with negotiating the voluntary agreement with industry on labelling of genetically modified produce. [113765]

Ms Quin [holding answer 13 March 2000]: All genetically modified food sold in the UK is required by law to be labelled. In the UK these requirements apply to foods sold in restaurants as well as in retail premises. We are working within Europe to agree a definition of "GM free" in a labelling claim and to achieve a labelling regime for animal feed in relation to GM ingredients.

Mr. David Heath: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what research he has commissioned on the safety for human consumption of meat from animals fed on GM crops. [113767]

Ms Quin [holding answer 13 March 2000]: None, as there is no evidence that meat from animals fed on GM crops is in any way distinguishable from animals fed on conventional feedingstuffs.

Ms Drown: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to introduce legislation to give effect to EC Regulations 49/2000 and 50/2000 concerning the labelling of genetically modified foods. [115741]

Ms Quin: The Genetically Modified and Novel Foods (Labelling) (England) Regulations 2000, which will come into force on 10 April, have today been laid before Parliament. These Regulations make provision in England for the enforcement of two new European labelling Regulations for GM foods, which will take effect automatically in all member states on 10 April, as well as consolidating all earlier GM labelling provisions.

The first of these, EC Regulation 49/2000, amends Regulation 1139/98 on the labelling of foods containing GM soya and maize, to extend the scope of the requirements to include foods for catering establishments, and to establish a 1 per cent. de minimis threshold for the adventitious contamination of non-GM material, below which GM labelling will not be required. The second, EC Regulation 50/2000, will require for the first time, the labelling of foods and food ingredients which contain GM additives and flavourings.

The Government are determined that consumers should be able to make informed choices about whether or not to eat genetically modified foods, and these new Regulations will strengthen further the arrangements already in place for this purpose.

A letter is being sent today to interested parties advising them of the content of the Regulations and enclosing a copy of the text. A Regulatory Impact Assessment for the Regulations has been prepared and placed in the Libraries of the House.

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