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External Consultants

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what has been spent by his Department on

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external consultants and advisers since May 1997 funded from (i) his Department's programme provision and (ii) his Department's running costs. [99488]

Mr. Kilfoyle: This information cannot be provided since the Department no longer breaks down its expenditure against these categories.

Arms Exhibitions

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the nature of the assurance given by DSEI Ltd. that companies exhibiting at the Defence Systems and Equipment International exhibition would comply with the Government's policies and UK legislation; and what check was made to see that this was achieved. [99513]

Mr. Kilfoyle: The organisers agreed that all equipment on display at the exhibition (including promotional material) would comply with current HMG policy and that no equipment would be exhibited which the UK would not approve for export. MOD agreed to advise the organisers on the suitability of exhibits.

UK contractors were bound by the Handbook of Industrial Security and their exhibits were scrutinised by MOD staff for compliance. Overseas exhibitors, although not bound by the Handbook, were subject to spot checks by MOD staff to ensure hardware on display was compliant with Government policies and UK legislation.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what checks and controls will be established for arms exhibitions held in the UK to ensure that exhibitors and organisers comply with the Landmines Act 1998. [99510]

Mr. Kilfoyle: Currently, there is no specific check for compliance with the Landmines Act 1998. However, anti-personnel landmines would be included as part of the normal spot check by MOD staff of all equipment on display. In addition, HM Customs and Excise routinely check all equipment imported into the country to ensure compliance with UK legislation, including the Landmines Act.

Participation at any UK defence exhibitions is conditional on compliance with UK law, which includes the Landmines Act.

Regarding checks of exhibits at UK defence exhibitions, UK contractors are scrutinised for compliance against the Handbook of Industrial Security. Overseas contractors are not bound by the Handbook of Industrial Security but have to comply with the organisers' requirements, which make compliance with UK law mandatory, and are subject to spot checks by MOD staff.

These procedures will be reviewed for future UK defence exhibitions.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects his Department's police investigation into alleged sales of anti-personnel mines at the Defence Systems and Equipment International Exhibition in Chertsey, Surrey, to be completed. [99512]

Mr. Kilfoyle: The Ministry of Defence Police are investigating allegations that a Romanian company advertised the sale of anti-personnel mines at the Defence Systems and Equipment International Exhibition held at

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Chertsey in September 1999. I understand that the investigations are nearing completion at which point a file will be submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what checks were made of products for sale at Defence Systems and Equipment International for compliance with the Landmines Act 1998; and who was responsible for carrying out such checks. [99511]

Mr. Kilfoyle: Participation at Defence Systems and Equipment International was conditional on compliance with UK law, including compliance with the Landmines Act 1998.

In addition to checks by HM Customs & Excise to ensure that no prohibited equipment, including anti-personnel landmines, was imported into the UK, all exhibits at DSEI by UK companies were subject to the provisions of the UK Handbook on Industrial Security and were scrutinised by MOD staff for compliance. Exhibits by overseas companies, although not bound by the provisions of the Handbook, were subject to spot checks by MOD staff to ensure that hardware on display was compliant with Government policies and UK legislation. No anti-personnel landmine equipment was observed.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Forestry Commission

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proposals he has to amend the Forestry Commission's Departmental Expenditure Limit for 1999-2000. [99886]

Mr. Morley: Subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate for Class X, Vote 3 (Forestry Commission) the Forestry Commission's Departmental Expenditure Limit for 1999-2000 will be increased by £7,5000,000 from £68,615,000 to £76,115,000. The increase is the net effect of the fall in receipts from sales of timber, offset by savings in expenditure.

The increase will be a charge on the Departmental Expenditure Limit Reserve and will not therefore add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Fisheries Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the outcome of the Fisheries Council held in Brussels on 22 November; and if he will make a statement. [99748]

Mr. Morley: The Fisheries Council met in Brussels on 22 November. I led the UK delegation, accompanied by my hon. Friend the Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson), Deputy Minister for Rural Affairs in the Scottish Executive.

The Council agreed a regulation for financial aid to fisheries under the reformed EU Structural Funds, which provides for seven year funding programmes and sets conditions for payments. Grants for renewal and modernisation of the fleet may be paid only if the member state has met its overall fleet capacity (MAGP IV) limits. Where the relevant segment of the fleet exceeds

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its capacity target, the member state must withdraw 30 per cent. more vessel capacity than is grant aided. While these new controls are not as rigorous as I would have wished, they are a welcome innovation, establishing the important principle that grant aid should contribute towards improving the balance between fish resources and the capacity of members states' fleets. There will be a review in 2001 providing an opportunity to make any changes necessary as a result of decisions at the expiry of MAGP IV.

The Council reached a political agreement on a reform of the fisheries marketing regime subject to the opinion of the European Parliament. The new regulation will provide lower tariffs for imports of fish which are important for our processing industry, while recognising the need to protect the interests of our catching industry in the import terms for sensitive species such as herring and cod and more generally by including provision to deal with serious market disturbance. After a transitional period it will reduce the costs of the regime.

The Council received a presentation on a draft Regulation to establish a Community framework for the collection and management of data needed to conduct the Common Fisheries Policy. This will return to the Council after detailed examination. The Commission reported that on 20 December there would be a meeting with the Moroccan Minister of Fisheries to take forward the EU:Morocco negotiations. There was an initial discussion of means of implementation of the new control arrangements adopted by the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission; arrangements for 2000 will be considered at the next meeting of the Council on 16 and 17 December.

Beef Ban

Mr. Drew: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made on lifting the French ban on United Kingdom beef imports. [100163]

Mr. Nick Brown: Discussions between the European Commission, the UK and France, have resulted in a document which will allow the French government to review its decision not to lift the ban on UK beef. This document has been referred to France's food safety advisory body, the AFSSA, by the French government.

I have placed copies of the document in the Libraries of the House.

Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowances

Mr. Tom King: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate has been made by his Department of the likely value of the hill farm allowance scheme for the South West Region on his present proposals; and how much he estimates the hill livestock compensatory allowances will be in the current year. [98604]

Ms Quin [holding answer 22 November 1999]: HLCA payments in MAFF's South West Region (Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly) in the current year (1999) will total around £6.27 million, over 14 per cent. of the total for England. These figures include a proportionate share of the extra £60 million (approximately £15.27 million in England), which we have announced will also be available in the year 2000. The proposals for Hill Farm

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Allowances which we published on 3 December will help maintain upland rural communities and preserve upland environments through sustainable beef and sheep production. There will be some impact on the amounts individual farmers receive, but the proposals have been designed to allow farmers time to adapt. We have made no estimate of any regional differences in the impact of the proposals.


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