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Departmental Estate

Mr. Welsh: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will estimate the current value of (i) plant and equipment, (ii) IT equipment, (iii) IT systems, (iv) office equipment, (v) scientific and laboratory equipment, (vi) furniture and fittings, (vii) vehicles, (viii) vessels and (ix) investments and the total for his Department. [99648]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 26 November 1999]: The value of assets of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food as at 31 March 1999 were:

Assets£000
Plant and Equipment0
IT Equipment and Systems46,445
Office Equipment3,336
Scientific and Lab Equipment13,808
Furniture and Fittings5,694
Vehicles4,356
Vessels4,907
Investments1,080
Total79,626

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the current estimated value of land and property in (a) Scotland, (b) the UK, (c) overseas and (d) in total held by his Department in the form of (i) headquarters and regional offices, (ii) laboratories, (iii) farms, (iv) buffer depots and (v) other offices, including breakdowns for historic leasehold properties and long leasehold properties. [99663]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 26 November 1999]: The Ministry owns no land outside the United Kingdom. Capital valuations as at 31 March 1999 for Ministry land and property in Scotland and the United Kingdom are shown in the table. However, valuations for the separate categories of accommodation in Scotland are not given. The Ministry owns only three properties in Scotland, all of which are surplus to requirements and awaiting disposal. The individual valuations are, therefore, commercially sensitive.

£ million

Scotland United Kingdom
FreeholdHistoric/long leaseholdFreeholdHistoric/long leasehold
HQ/Regional Offices0034.611.4
Laboratoriesn/a0228.64.6
Farms0026.40
Buffer Depotsn/a03.80
Other Properties008.90.1
Total1.90302.316.1


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Corporate Assets

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will estimate the current value of land and property (a) in Scotland, (b) in the United Kingdom, (c) overseas and (d) in total within the responsibility of (i) Covent Garden Market Authority, (ii) Food from Britain, (iii) Horticultural Research International, (iv) the Meat and Livestock Commission, (v) Sea Fish Industry Authority, (vi) Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew) and (vii) the Intervention Board; and what is the value of (1) plant and equipment, (2) IT equipment and systems, (3) office equipment, (4) scientific and laboratory equipment, (5) fittings and furniture and (6) vehicles for each of these bodies and for any other non-departmental public bodies within his responsibility. [99783]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 26 November 1999]: The information requested is not held centrally in the form required and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

New Variant CJD

Sir Brian Mawhinney: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the published references to the scientific, medical and agricultural research which indicate that new variant CJD in humans is caused by eating meat derived from BSE-infected cows. [99925]

Ms Quin [holding answer 26 November 1999]: The association between BSE and variant CJD (vCJD) has been discussed in a number of published articles. Details of those of particular significance are as follows:







The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC), the independent expert group that advises the Government on all aspects of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, regularly reviews relevant published articles. The committee has concluded that the results of experiments reported in these articles provide convincing evidence that the agent which causes vCJD is the same as that which causes BSE.

Industrial Fishing

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proposals he has for the reduction of industrial fishing in the North Sea. [99746]

30 Nov 1999 : Column: 181W

Mr. Morley: I expect to see shortly Commission proposals reflecting the advice given in June by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas on the need for a closure of the sandeel fishery in the Firth of Forth.

TACs

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what total allowable catches are recommended by ICES for (a) pout and (b) sand eels; and what were the catches of these fish in each of the last two years. [99755]

Mr. Morley: ICES has not made specific recommendations on the size of the total allowable catch for pout and sandeels in 2000, but has advised that the level of stocks can sustain the continuation of current fishing mortality. ICES estimates North Sea landings in the last two years as follows.

Thousand tonnes

Norway poutSandeels
19972011,140
199875993

Sea Defences (East Sussex)

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to change the level of spending on sea defences in East Sussex. [99717]

Mr. Morley: I have no plans to change the level of spending on sea defences in East Sussex. This Government announced an increase of £23 million in Ministry funding for flood and coastal defence over this and the next two years as part of its Comprehensive Spending Review. Applications from operating authorities for Ministry funding will continue to be considered against established technical, economic and environmental criteria, and within a national priority scoring system.

French Meat

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to ensure that the sale of meat produced by illegal means, with particular reference to the use of human sewage or animal sludge, is declared illegal and that such meat is unavailable for circulation throughout the European Union. [99506]

Ms Quin [holding answer 24 November 1999]: We are advised that, on the basis of available information, there are no public health grounds for banning French or other meat with regard to human or animal sludge in animal feed. The UK fully supports the Commission actions to see that rules are commonly interpreted and properly enforced.

Meat Labelling

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what guidance his Department has issued to meat producers on the labelling of meat products for sale (a) in the United Kingdom and (b) overseas. [99721]

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Ms Quin: We are currently consulting interested parties on guidance aimed at ensuring that country of origin markings on all food labels, including meat products, do not mislead consumers about the true origin of the ingredients that have been used. The guidance relates to UK food labelling requirements, which themselves derive from European rules. We would therefore expect a similar approach to that set out in the guidance to be adopted for the sale of meat products overseas.

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will request that the European Commission allows the country of origin labelling required for British beef sold in Europe to contain a promotional message. [99747]

Ms Quin: Under Council Regulation 820/97, it is permissible but not obligatory for British beef sold in Europe to be labelled by country or region of origin. Operators are free to label beef with a promotional message (e.g. other indications as regards quality) if they so wish, subject to the provisions of that Regulation.


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