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Public Authorities

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he will make an order listing the public authorities to be designated under section 75(3)(a) and (d) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998; what bodies are to be included in the initial order; and what bodies he proposes to consult in relation to the second order. [120702]

Mr. Mandelson: The majority of public bodies to which section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 applies are identified in the legislation. In relation to designation under section 75(3)(a) and (d) of the Act, it is intended to lay before Parliament, as soon as possible, an order which will list a number of bodies in respect of which consultation is complete. In regard to the second order, it is intended to consult a number of additional bodies suggested by the Equality Commission and which carry out functions relating to Northern Ireland.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

BSE

Sir Richard Body: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will call for a report on recent research in Switzerland concerning tests capable of detecting sub-clinical infection of BSE. [120652]

Ms Quin: A Swiss company, Prionics, has developed a test for the post mortem diagnosis of BSE in cattle, the Prionics Check Test. In a recent evaluation of selected BSE screening diagnostic tests conducted under the auspices of the European Commission, the Prionics Check Test detected all clinically affected animals which were histopathologically positive. Prionics have also published the results of a validation of their test on clinical cattle. Swiss authorities have used the test to survey healthy cattle slaughtered for human consumption, casualty animals also slaughtered for human consumption and fallen stock. They have identified a small number of positive animals, especially among the casualty and fallen stock categories.

9 May 2000 : Column: 376W

This test was employed in a survey of British cattle more than five years of age slaughtered under the over-thirty- months scheme. The survey involved the examination of a systematic sample of 4,136 cattle. The Prionics Check Test was not found to be more sensitive than conventional histopathological examination of brain samples. The comparative data obtained by histopathological diagnosis at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency indicate that the Prionics Check Test is capable of detecting BSE-infected animals only three months or less before the onset of clinical signs and, at present, cannot be regarded as being capable of detecting BSE-infected animals at an earlier stage.

Badger Culling

Mr. Baker: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the (a) number and (b) species of non-target animals which have been caught in cage traps set for badgers in the TB trial cull; if he will indicate (i) the number which were injured but released, (ii) the number which (A) were found dead and (B) needed to be dispatched as a result of their injuries and (iii) the nature of the injuries; and if he will make a statement. [120775]

Ms Quin [holding answer 4 May 2000]: In trial operations to date 373 non-target animals and birds have been captured, of which 336 were released uninjured. For the remainder the information requested is as follows:

SpeciesNumber found dead Number found injured and despatchedNature of injuries
Grey Squirrel510caught in mesh bars of trap
Pheasant59head injuries
Rook21wing/leg damage
Jay13wing/leg damage
Fox01serious mange

No injured animals were released.


Mr. Baker: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has for the badger culling trial to observe a closed season; and if he will make a statement. [120776]

Ms Quin [holding answer 4 May 2000]: The badger culling trial incorporates a closed season from 1 February to 30 April inclusive. During this period no trapping or culling takes place.

Fishing Industry

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when and for what reason he decided to transfer 200 tonnes of plaice and sole to Belgium; and what consultations he held with the industry. [119236]

Mr. Morley: A "gentlemen's agreement" has been reached with Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands--welcomed by the UK industry--on the withdrawal of beam trawlers until 1 May from the northern part of the Irish sea closed to protect spawning cod. In the context of arriving at that agreement, the UK undertook to transfer 190 tonnes of North Sea plaice and 5 tonnes of sole in ICES Areas VIId and VIIfg to the Belgian authorities for them to allocate.

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This transfer was in recognition of the good will shown by the Belgians, who have substantial flatfish quotas in the Irish sea, in reaching agreement with us and of our on-going co-operation with them in matters of quota management including assistance with quota transfer to ourselves. The transfer was not the subject of prior consultation with the industry but it came from stocks that were underfished in 1999, particularly North sea plaice where the underfish exceeded 10,000 tonnes.

No British fisherman will suffer a reduction in fishing opportunities as a result of this arrangement. 50 tonnes of North sea sole obtained through economic link license conditions has also been allocated to the inshore sector.

Bovine TB

Mr. Baker: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many confirmed cases of bovine TB there were in Staffordshire and Derbyshire in (a) 1997, (b) 1998 and (c) 1999; and if he will make a statement. [120778]

Ms Quin [holding answer 4 May 2000]: The number of herds in Staffordshire and Derbyshire where bovine TB has been confirmed were:

DerbyshireStaffordshire
1997124
1998630
19991935

Mr. Baker: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many badger road casualties tested as positive for bovine TB in (a) Staffordshire, (b) Derbyshire, (c) Cheshire, (d) Shropshire and (e) England and Wales in (i) 1997, (ii) 1998 and (iii) 1999. [120772]

Ms Quin [holding answer 4 May 2000]: In the period concerned, badger road casualties were collected at the discretion of Divisional Veterinary Managers. The number of badger road casualties that tested positive for bovine TB were:

19971998(12)1999
Staffordshire686
Derbyshire002
Cheshire000
Shropshire200
England and Wales8010171

(12) In 1999 carcases were collected only between January and August.


Fallen Stock

Mr. Gray: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to the answer of 12 April 2000, Official Report, column 220W, on fallen stock, how many knackermen own approved incinerators for the disposal of specified risk material. [120769]

Ms Quin [holding answer 4 May 2000]: Twenty-six knackers' yards have incinerators which are approved to incinerate specified risk material.

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SCOTLAND

Assisted Areas

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many responses were received by his Department in respect of the revised assisted areas map; and how many responses (a) objected to and (b) supported the removal of Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch, and Strathspey from the proposed map. [120924]

Dr. Reid [holding answer 5 May 2000]: During the consultation period following the 10 April announcement of revised Assisted Area map proposals, a total of 83 responses were received by my Department, of which a total of 63 related to all of or parts of Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey areas.

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what the criteria were which excluded Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey from the revised assisted areas map. [120926]

Dr. Reid [holding answer 5 May 2000]: The July 1999 Assisted Area map proposals put forward the Highlands and Islands NUTS 2 area as a whole, for inclusion on the basis of its population sparsity. However, the European Commission would not accept this, and the Inverness NUTS 3 area does not on its own meet the sparsity criterion.

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will rank Scottish constituencies by (a) the reduction and (b) the increase in population coverage proposed in the revised assisted areas map. [120927]

Dr. Reid [holding answer 5 May 2000]: The information requested is contained in the table (but see note following).

Scottish parliamentary constituencies with reduced population coverage, comparing the revised Assisted Areas map proposals published in April 2000 against the earlier proposals published in July 1999

Parliamentary constituencyPopulation change
Pollok61,862
Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber55,451
Cathcart36,536
Moray24,329
Angus22,244
Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley19,649
Ross, Skye and Inverness West19,367
Govan8,846
Clydesdale7,991
Edinburgh West7,006
Roxburgh and Berwickshire6,218
Falkirk West6,160
Edinburgh North and Leith6,036
Dumbarton6,015
Paisley South5,800
Falkirk East5,011
Airdrie and Shotts4,734
Rutherglen1,842


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Scottish parliamentary constituencies with increased population coverage, comparing the revised Assisted Areas map proposals published in April 2000 against the earlier proposals published in July 1999

Parliamentary constituency Population change
Dundee East31,275
Greenock and Inverclyde30,920
Maryhill29,888
Anniesland29,009
East Kilbride23,616
Galloway and Upper Nithsdale20,266
Livingston16,764
Tweeddale, Ettrick and Launderdale14,837
Dundee West14,684
Kelvin9,717
Paisley North5,806
Coatbridge and Chryston5,213
Hamilton South5,051
Ayr4,824
West Renfrewshire4,816
Clydebank and Milngavie4,197
Dumfries2,587
Eastwood602
Stirling236

Note:

These figures are based on population data for 1991 wards. Several Parliamentary Constituency and ward boundaries have changed since 1991, therefore a 1991 ward may be shared between more than one parliamentary constituency. Due to this, the above data has been compiled on a 'best fit' basis.



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