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Lord Beaumont of Whitley: My Lords, has the Minister's attention been drawn to the recent report in the Sunday Telegraph which pointed out that it is almost impossible, if not impossible, to get hold of protective clothing with the correct CE mark because the correct CE mark cannot have been tested in the way that the regulations say that it should be?

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I believe that the article to which the noble Lord refers is one that appeared in the Sunday Telegraph written by Mr. Booker. The position as described in that article is not correct. The background and research have not resulted in an accurate analysis of the position, and as a result that has caused considerable concern and distress. It is possible to obtain equipment with the CE mark. What is equally important is that, under the law as it now stands, from 1st July this year it will be unlawful for manufacturers to place PPE on the market—that is, into the supply chain—unless it has a CE mark. But any materials of this sort which are already in the supply chain can perfectly lawfully be acquired and used for as long as they are safe.

Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, as Ministers of the Crown are not averse to making contributions by means of letters to the leading newspapers, will the noble Lord bear in mind the necessity, in view of the accusations that have been made against Mr. Booker, for a letter to be sent to the Telegraph explaining precisely where he was wrong?

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, it is not the practice of the Government to respond to every casual article in any particular newspaper, whether it is a weekly or a Sunday newspaper. Over the years we have taken a great deal of time and trouble endeavouring to make quite sure that the position as regards sheep dipping is entirely understood. We shall continue to do that. I understand that even "The Archers" programme has been involved in describing the position.

Baroness Turner of Camden: My Lords, would it not be better, in view of the criticisms that have frequently been made, if the use of this substance were outlawed altogether? Incidentally, we should thank the noble Countess, Lady Mar, for the diligence with which she has pursued this issue on behalf of those who work in farming. Is the Minister confident that, if it is not outlawed, the Health and Safety Executive has a sufficiently strong inspectorate to ensure that the use of this substance is properly monitored?

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the noble Baroness is quite right to point out the service that the noble Countess has done in drawing this matter to our attention. There are certain circumstances where OP dips are the best and probably the only form of dip which can be used. In those

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circumstances we believe, as we have always believed, that provided they are used properly, both in accordance with the law and in accordance with the principles of common sense, there is absolutely no case for outlawing them.

I have every confidence in the ability of the HSE inspectorate to monitor the situation properly. It makes something of the order of 30,000 visits to farms every year, although obviously all of those are not sheep farms. In addition, the inspectorate is currently carrying out a survey, which follows up a survey carried out in 1992-93, on sheep farms to examine sheep dipping practice in the field.

The Countess of Mar: My Lords, the noble Lord said that personal protective equipment in the pipeline need not carry the CE mark. Is he aware that all the instructions for the use of OP sheep dips say that protective clothing must be in tip-top condition and that it must be destroyed if there are any faults in it? Therefore, farmers will be checking their equipment now for the autumn dipping and may want to replace it. What is their position if no manufacturer will guarantee their personal protective equipment for use with OP sheep dips? Is a farmer acting against the law if he compels his workers to wear protective clothing which is supposedly sub-standard when he dips his sheep?

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the crucial point that I should like to emphasise is that the presence or otherwise of the CE mark has no direct bearing on whether a particular item is sound and suitable for the circumstances in which it is used. That is the test under the COSHH regulations at present.

As I explained, any item which is in the retail chain before 1st July this year can be sold and used lawfully by anybody engaged in this activity. I hope that that makes the position absolutely clear. In individual circumstances, it is for the people in charge of sheep dipping to make sure that they are not acting in breach of the COSHH regulations. Advice is provided in the leaflet, Sheep Dipping, sent out by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Swinden Quarry: Planning Application

3.1 p.m.

{**end of tabular matter**}

Lord Norrie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they decided not to call in the planning application for further mineral extraction at Swinden Quarry in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, our approach is not to interfere with the jurisdiction of local planning authorities unless it is necessary to do so. The Secretary of State for the Environment will therefore be selective about calling in applications for his determination and will, in general, take that step only if planning issues of more than local importance are involved.

I can assure your Lordships that the decision on whether to call in the application to extend Swinden Quarry, given the site's location in a national park, was taken only after the most careful scrutiny. It was decided

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on the basis of the information before us that the application did not raise issues of more than local importance.

Lord Norrie: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. Does he recall that during our debates on the Environment Bill I tabled amendments with cross-party support to incorporate a statutory test? That test would ensure that major development would not be allowed in national parks unless there was either an overriding national need or there was no suitable alternative location. Does he also recall that my noble friend Lord Ullswater assured me that a statutory test was not necessary as the issue of national need and alternative location was covered by Planning Policy Guidance Note No. 7? Therefore, can the Minister confirm that that government policy still stands? If so, can he elaborate on why the Secretary of State did not call in this particular application?

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, the most important point to make to my noble friend is that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State did not call in the application because in his view the proposal, which was the extension of an existing site—by deepening rather than widening the site—did not constitute a major development. Nor did my right honourable friend consider that the application raised issues of regional or national significance. I stress to my noble friend that the Government's policy remains, as set out in PPG 7, that major development should not take place in national parks save in exceptional circumstances.

My noble friend also asked whether the statutory test that he proposed during our debates on the Environment Bill might be considered further. We do not accept that the policy for major developments in national parks is so special as to justify policy duplication in statute. Planning decisions involve judgment. Putting a planning test in statute will not make it any more or less likely that some people will disagree with particular decisions.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley: My Lords, is the Minister aware that a 100-metre deep hole is being dug in a national park in order to produce high quality limestone, 96 per cent. of which is merely going into aggregate? Is that worth while? Is it not a real abuse of the procedures, and will the Government do something about it?

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, there has been a quarry on the site for the best part of 100 years. Therefore, the proposal—for the quarry to be deepened rather than widened—is not quite as controversial as the noble Lord suggests. The aggregate from the quarry can be manufactured to a very high quality aggregate suitable for high specifications. It is also appropriate for local use.

Baroness Nicol: My Lords, is it not seriously wrong to suggest that a development that will lead to another 26 years of excavation in a national park which is of national importance, involving something like 37 million tonnes of aggregate, is a local matter?

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, national parks in themselves are a national matter, but not all activities in national parks become national matters. I point out to the noble Baroness that the new proposal before the national

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park authority will lead to significant benefits. There will be a reduction in road traffic, an increase in the amount of material sent out by rail, a ban on night road haulage movements and relocation of unsightly buildings.

Lord Gisborough: My Lords, will my noble friend continue to keep in mind the importance of industry and employment in the countryside, which are just as important as anywhere else? Secondly, since the quarry is already open, will he bear in mind that the standard of restoration is now very high and enables what would have been an eyesore to be transformed into good restored countryside in the end?

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