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Europe Houses

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Europe Houses there are in the United Kingdom; and what is their purpose and their cost. [142968]

Mr. Vaz [holding answer 18 December 2000]: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) on 24 January 2000, Official Report, column 34W. There are no Europe Houses in the United Kingdom.


Osborne House Convalescent Home

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he plans to legislate for the closure of Osborne House convalescent home. [141536]

Mr. Chris Smith [holding answer 11 December 2000]: The Culture and Recreation Bill, which received its First Reading in the other place on 14 December 2000, includes a provision to end my obligation to use parts of Osborne House and grounds for the benefit of members of the armed forces and the civil service. In practice, this obligation has been met, until recently, through the provision of the King Edward VII Convalescent Home for Officers which closed on 31 October 2000. The exterior of the accommodation is currently being repaired and refurbished, which excludes an immediate alternative use.

Athletics Events

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the United Kingdom's capacity to stage major athletics events. [141889]

Mr. Chris Smith [holding answer 11 December 2000]: The United Kingdom has a number of venues capable of staging major athletics events. Our past success in hosting major events is one of the reasons why, in April this year, the International Amateur Athletics Association (IAAF) awarded the 2005 World Athletics Championships to London and the 2003 World Indoor Championships to Birmingham.

National Lottery

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport who the Lottery Commissioners met on their visit to the USA; if he will instruct the Lottery Commissioners to request a Standard and Poor analysis of all of the respective partners of (a) Camelot and (b) The People's Lottery bids for the National Lottery. [142567]

Kate Hoey: I have asked the National Lottery Commission to write to my hon. Friend, setting out who the Commissioners met on their visit to the USA, and to place a copy of its letter in the Libraries of both Houses.

The National Lottery Commission has carried out extensive checks on both applicants for the National Lottery licence. The Government will not direct the Commission to carry out specific checks: we believe that the Commission is best placed to determine what checks

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are necessary, in line with its statutory duties to protect the interests of players, to ensure the Lottery is operated with all due propriety, and, subject to meeting those two criteria, to maximise the returns to good causes.

Digital Terrestrial Television

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he will make a statement on his conclusions concerning his review of the statutory requirements for the provision of subtitling, signing and audio description services on digital terrestrial television. [142807]

Janet Anderson: "A New Future for Communications" (Cm 5010), published on 12 December, stated that the Government's aim was to extend and improve provision for subtitling, signing and audio description. We are considering the detailed responses to the consultation paper about these services, issued in July, and we expect to announce our full conclusions shortly.

Leisure and Recreation Facilities

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans he has to review the adequacy and availability of leisure and recreation facilities to young people in all areas of the United Kingdom. [142832]

Kate Hoey: Sport England assists local authorities in assessing the need for facilities via its Facilities Planning Model and its statutory role in the planning system in relation to disposals of playing fields. Discussions are continuing between my officials, Sport England and the Local Government Association on the most appropriate means of drawing together information on sports facilities.

The provision of sport and recreation facilities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a matter for the devolved Administrations.

EU Declaration on Sport

Ms Dari Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport for what reasons he requested that the scrutiny reserve be lifted on the EU Declaration on Sport. [143663]

Mr. Chris Smith: The European Scrutiny Committee have recommended that the Declaration on Sport be debated with the Helsinki Report on sport, and the Community Support Plan to combat doping in sport. It is planned that the debate be held in the new year. I believe that it was important for the Prime Minister to be able to agree the Declaration at the Nice European Council Meeting, particularly as it would have been viewed as a reversal of our position should the UK not have been in a position to support it. We have argued long and hard to secure the changes which meet the Government's objectives.

The declaration fully acknowledges the prerogatives of sports organisations; it underlines that while commercial sport should be subject to EU regulations, those regulations must be applied in a way that recognises the special nature of sport; and it does not envisage any expansion of the role of the Commission in relation to

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sport. The declaration creates no new obligations for the UK and in essence reinforces the message of previous statements at Helsinki and Feira.



Mrs. Browning: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will identify the procedure for the retention and identification of carcases of bovines while post-mortem BSE tests are carried out in other EU countries. [141721]

Ms Quin [holding answer 11 December 2000]: Post-mortem tests for BSE on bovine carcases aged more than thirty months and entering the food chain will be a Community requirement from January 2001.

We are not yet aware of the details of the arrangements for retention and identification of carcases which the member states will introduce when they implement the Community requirement for testing.

Live Calf Exports

Mr. Prosser: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he is taking to persuade (a) the European Commission and (b) European Union member states to lift the BSE-related ban on the export of live calves from the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. [142948]

Ms Quin: The proposed European Union Council Regulation on Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies, currently under discussion in Brussels, holds out the prospect of a return to live exports of bovine animals once BSE incident in the UK has reduced to a lower level. We believe this is the best route to achieving a return to live exports, but progress will take some time.

Pig Industry

Mr. Paice: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will lay the statutory instrument to implement the proposed pig welfare levy; and when he expects the first payment to be made to producers affected by classical swine fever. [142891]

Ms Quin [holding answer 18 December 2000]: The Government have already paid out over £3.7 million under the Pig Welfare (Disposal) Scheme to producers caught by movement controls brought in to prevent the spread of classical swine fever. As matters stand currently, over £8.5 million will be paid to producers under this scheme. The only vehicle available to introduce a producer levy to provide funding for an industry top-up to these Government payments is a development scheme under the 1967 Agriculture Act. The formal consultation period on a development scheme began on 24 November and will end on 23 January 2001. If, after examining any objections, the industry decides to ask Agriculture Ministers to proceed with a scheme, we would aim to lay the statutory instrument before this House very quickly after receiving the request.

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Mr. Paice: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how much will be available for payment in the Pig Farmers Outgoers Scheme in financial years (a) 2000-01, (b) 2001-02 and (c) 2002-03. [142892]

Ms Quin [holding answer 18 December 2000]: While it may be possible for some payments under the Pig Industry Restructuring Scheme 2000--Outgoers to be made in the financial year 2000-01, we expect all payments to be completed in financial year 2001-02; at least £20 million will be available for this purpose.

Fisheries Council

Mr. Jim Marshall: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Fisheries Council held in Brussels on 14 December. [143617]

Mr. Morley: I represented the United Kingdom at a meeting of the EU Fisheries Council in Brussels on 14-15 December, together with Rhona Brankin, Deputy Minister for Rural Affairs in the Scottish Executive, and Mrs. Brid Rodgers, the Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Council agreed by qualified majority, with Belgium and Greece voting against and Italy abstaining, on total allowable catches (TACS) and quotas to apply in 2001 EU Waters and for EU vessels fishing in waters where catch limitations apply. Details of the agreed TACs will be made available in the Libraries of the House.

Following from the advice of fisheries scientists in the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the Commission proposed severe cuts in many TACs, notably for cod and hake, reflecting the poor state of stocks and the need to hold fishing effort at a level which will assist the recovery of depleted stocks. In addition, the Commission proposed cuts of 20 per cent. for a large range of stocks which may be caught with cod and hake, including prawns (nephrops) and flat fish.

I successfully argued that these cuts went beyond the science and would be excessive in their application. Taking measures to enable cod stocks to recover was a key priority, but this should be done by carefully targeted measures to reduce fishing effort, protect spawning and juvenile cod and improve the selectivity of fishing gear. I am pleased to report that such measures will be developed in close consultation with fishermen and scientists under the Cod Recovery Plan, which the Council agreed would be adopted early next year. There is also to be a corresponding Hake Recovery Plan.

By acting to protect the cod and hake stocks through recovery plans, it was possible to secure smaller cuts than the Commission had proposed, while still respecting the scientific advice. This particularly applies to flat fish and nephrops. For these, the agreed cuts are now generally 10 per cent. or less. Also, it will be possible to increase nephrops and other TACs if it can be shown that the cod or hake bycatch in these fisheries is low. Improvements were also secured in megrim, haddock and monkfish TACs and the cut in hake TACs was reduced from 74 per cent. to 41 per cent. Our quotas were also improved because Hague Preference was applied on all those stocks

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on which I judged that it was in our national interest to seek it. As a result of these changes the total UK quotas agreed were some 4,000 tonnes higher in cod equivalent tonnes than in the Commission's proposals. This means that the estimated loss of quota value to the industry in 2001 is reduced by £35 million to £72 million.

There is an urgent need for action to protect stocks of deepwater species and the Commission had made proposals for the introduction of TACs and Quotas on nine such species. However, the impact of the proposals would have been of limited value because the stocks are fished by non-EU states whose activities would have been unaffected. Also, the scientific advice suggests that other management measures may be appropriate. Accordingly, the proposals were not adopted, but the Council committed itself to address the question of how protection for these vulnerable and over-exploited stocks could most effectively be improved in early 2001.

The Commission also presented a communication on the possibility of setting TACs on a multi-annual rather than annual basis under precautionary management strategies. This approach will apply first to cod and hake. The Council agreed that the Commission will continue its work in this area.

The Council reached agreement in principle on the funding of fisheries control activities and on the consolidation of technical measures for highly migratory species like tuna and swordfish. The Council adopted a decision provisionally applying from 1 January 2001, the recently negotiated Fourth Protocol to the EU-Greenland Agreement; Portugal abstained. The Commission reported that negotiations were continuing on a new EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement, though with little progress so far.

In bilateral discussions with Denmark I agreed that we would have joint discussions in early 2001 on the North Sea sandeel fishery. These will cover possible reductions in the size of the TAC and adjustments to the bycatch arrangements which would reduce the allowance for bycatches of fish for human consumption.

The outcome of the Council represents a balance between the need to conserve fish stocks for the future and the avoidance of disproportionate cuts in fishing opportunities in 2001. I recognise that the fishing industry faces a difficult period in responding to the poor state of stocks and we will be having discussions with them early in the new year to evaluate the situation.

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