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Pig Farmers

Mr. Drew: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent discussions he has had with the EU on measures to offer price or income support to British pig farmers. [101068]

Ms Quin [holding answer 2 December 1999]: None, as direct payments and similar supports to producers are not part of the CAP pigmeat regime. However, we have pressed the European Commission to reopen the aids to private storage of pigmeat scheme and to reinstate special refunds on exports of fresh and frozen pig carcases and cuts to Russia. Officials in the Department have also discussed with the European Commission the costs faced by British pig producers because of BSE and the possibility of introducing a pig offal disposal scheme.

Zinc Bacitracin

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his assessment of the effect of

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the suspension of the use of zinc bacitracin in animal feed on the incidence of necrotic enteritis and choloangiohepatitis in poultry. [98445]

Ms Quin: There are three authorised antimicrobial growth promoters still available for use in poultry production, with similar effects on the gut flora of poultry to that of bacitracin. Necrotic enteritis and choloangiohepatitis are not notifiable diseases and therefore statistics on their incidence cannot be provided.

Farm-based Tourism

Mr. Paice: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what studies he has (a) initiated and (b) received concerning the obstacles to developing farm-based tourism; what action he is taking as a result of these studies; and what funds are available to him to support such action. [100271]

Mr. Morley: No such studies have been initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The Government's Tourism Strategy "Tomorrow's Tourism", launched earlier this year, recognises tourism's role in maintaining the viability of farm businesses. The European Council Rural Development Regulation (1257/1999), which applies from 2000, enables member states to support projects to encourage tourist and craft activities, among other things. A decision on the implementation of the Regulation will be made shortly. Schemes to provide advice and support for those farmers contemplating farm-based tourism have been supported through Objective 5b Schemes. These close at the end of the year.


Minister for Youth

Mr. Wood: To ask the Prime Minister if the Government will appoint a Minister for Youth. [99468]

The Prime Minister: While I keep ministerial responsibilities under regular review, I have no current plans to do so. Ministers in several Departments have responsibilities in this area, and work together on cross-departmental policies for young people.

Royal Gifts

Mr. Baker: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the gifts received by Her Majesty the Queen and registered as Government property since 1969. [100327]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 30 November 1999]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 23 January 1998, Official Report, column 722W.

Representation of the People Bill

Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Prime Minister if the Home Office has been given an exemption from his instruction to all Departments to undertake and publish a regulatory impact study of the financial and other effects of all proposed Government legislation, with particular reference to the Representation of the People Bill. [100676]

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The Prime Minister [holding answer 30 November 1999]: No. A regulatory impact statement relating to the Representation of the People Bill was placed in the Library on 18 November to coincide with the Bill's introduction.

Gold Reserves

Sir Peter Tapsell: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer of 24 November 1999, Official Report, columns 613-14, who gave the advice to him and to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to which he referred and which led them to instruct the Bank of England to sell more than half of Britain's gold reserves. [100523]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 30 November 1999]: The Bank of England provided technical advice on the portfolio risks associated with gold and other assets, and the various techniques for selling gold.

Cologne Council

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the exchanges held with the President of the European Parliament at the Cologne Council. [101018]

The Prime Minister: The then President of the European Parliament, Jose Maria Gil-Robles, addressed the first session of the Cologne European Council, setting out the European Parliament's views on the main issues for discussion.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the form of changes required in work organisation and working time for the creation of jobs, as stated in section 10 of the Presidency Conclusions of the Cologne Summit. [101022]

The Prime Minister: The Presidency Conclusions of the Cologne European Council

The Government believe that companies themselves are best placed to achieve changes in the organisation of work within the framework of minimum standards established by Government. The Government support fair minimum standards on working time, but we do not believe that there is a fixed amount of work in the economy and, therefore, do not consider that reducing working time for individuals will increase employment as a whole.

The Government are promoting a family friendly employment rights agenda which will help both women and men to combine work with family commitments. In turn, this will help employers to attract a diverse range of people who can fit the different working patterns required for the modern economy.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Prime Minister when the European Council will release to the public, pursuant to section 36 of the Cologne Presidency Conclusions, a report on global year 2000 preventative measures. [101014]

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The Prime Minister: As a result of the Cologne European Council the European Commission set up a High Level Working Group to look at cross border Y2K issues. The group has met regularly and has discussed a wide range of issues. The Commission issued a report on 26 November (COM 1999 639 final), a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.

Qualified Majority Voting

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Prime Minister in connection (1) with what areas the Government expects extension of qualified majority voting will be raised during the forthcoming intergovernmental conference; and what is his Government's policy thereon; [101024]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 9 November 1999, Official Report, column 486W.

European Employment Pact

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Prime Minister what measures are planned under the three pillars of the European Employment Pact; if Parliament will be consulted; and what budget lines and finances will be available. [101019]

The Prime Minister: The European Employment Pact agreed at the Cologne European Council on 3-4 June 1999 brought together three processes. Two of these were the existing Luxembourg employment process and the Cardiff economic reform process. The third, new element was the macro-economic dialogue, termed the "Cologne process". The dialogue takes place biannually among social partners and fiscal and employment policy makers from existing institutions and considers the interaction between economic and employment policies.

All elements of the Pact are subject to the usual Parliamentary Scrutiny procedures. The Pact is an amalgam of three processes and therefore there are no new budget lines.

"Youth and Europe--Our Future"

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Prime Minister what is his Government's policy towards developing EU action, pursuant to the memorandum, "Youth and Europe--Our Future"; and what type of projects are envisaged. [101020]

The Prime Minister: The memorandum "Youth and Europe--Our Future" was produced during the German Presidency of the Council of Ministers. It described a number of measures which, in the Presidency's view, would contribute to increasing the employability of young people in Europe. The Government welcomed this initiative and would consider on their merits any proposals for EU action that the European Commission or members states might put forward.

Downing Street Discussions

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the names of those present at the discussions at No. 10 Downing street on the evening of 21 October 1997. [101207]

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The Prime Minister: As with previous Governments, it is not my practice to provide details of private meetings.

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