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Agriculture Council, 19-22 June

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): At this meeting the Council agreed a comprehensive framework of law covering the welfare of farm animals transported throughout the European Union. Rules have been set for the first time on the length of time for which animals can be transported and when journeys must be broken for food, water and rest. There will be maximum limits on travel time for all journeys and a clear definition of a journey's end. Animals will have to be held in one place for at least 24 hours to recover before they can be moved again.

If animals are to be transported for more than eight hours, vehicles will have to provide specified equipment such as proper ventilation and temperature control. For vehicles that do not meet those standards, eight hours will be the maximum travel time. There will also be

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specific rules on the space allowance that animals must be given in the different types of transport.

The agreement also provides for a proper framework of rules and Union-wide powers to enforce the rules. Hauliers will be licensed and, if they fail to observe the rules, licences will be removed. In addition, those engaged in the trade will have to be properly trained. Journey plans will be needed for all substantial journeys across borders. The European Commission will have the role of ensuring that member states are applying the rules correctly and its veterinary inspectorate will be strengthened so that it can do so. The Council agreed to review the arrangements in three years' time.

The Council also agreed to change the expensive and inflationary agri-monetary system which the United Kingdom voted against last December. Whilst the final proposal was an improvement in budgetary terms, the United Kingdom again voted against. The new arrangements will lead to a distortion of the support system by paying farmers in some countries more than is justified by the market rate for the national currency concerned. The Government believe that any such arrangement should be subject to a specific time-limit; a proposal to link it to the date of the introduction of a single currency was not acceptable.

The Council reached agreement on support prices and related measures for farm products for 1995–96. The Council decided to maintain almost all prices and aid rates unchanged, rejecting the Commission's initial proposals for modest cuts. There will be some small reductions in seasonal price increments for cereals and sugar storage payments. My right honourable friend the Minister made it clear that he regarded this as a wasted opportunity; and that there could be no question of increasing the existing ceiling on agricultural expenditure.

Agreement was reached on a number of other items as part of an overall package. These included changes to the support system for cotton aimed at stopping the sharp increases in expenditure seen in recent years; the definitive allocation to Italy and Greece of the increases in milk quotas previously allocated on a temporary basis; and rules allowing the continued operation of the "knacker" industry in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

In addition to the United Kingdom's vote against the changes to the agri-money rules, negative votes were recorded by Sweden against the complete package; by Austria, Denmark and, from the opposite standpoint, Italy against the animal transport decision; and by Netherlands, Denmark and Luxembourg against the definitive allocation of milk quotas.

In addition, the Commission undertook to make a proposal before 31 July on the rate of set-aside for arable crops sown for harvest next year. This will be an improvement on last year's timetable, when the proposal came too late. At the insistence of my right honourable friend, the Commission promised to take full account of the interests of users of cereals, particularly pig and poultry producers, who are having to pay too much for their supplies.

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The Council at last adopted a measure allowing arable land taken out of production for forestry or environmental purposes to count against the set-aside obligation of the farmer concerned. This is something for which the Government have long been pressing, with the full support of environmental and farming organisations. It should boost farmers' participation in forestry and environmental schemes.

Finally, the Council agreed that France could pay certain limited national aids to its wine producers.

CAP Reform Proposals

Lord Jay asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proposals for reforming the common agricultural policy they intend to put forward in forthcoming European Union negotiations on this topic.

Earl Howe: The Government will continue to press their view at every suitable opportunity that the main response to the faults of the CAP must consist of progressive reductions in product linked support and protection. This would lead to the eventual removal of artificial restrictions on production and the creation of a competitive and market-driven farming industry. Any remaining support should be targeted towards environmental and other specific objectives.

Heart Disease and Respiratory Diseases: Deaths

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the statistics of deaths in the five largest Metropolitan Authorities outside London, for the latest year for which statistics are available, in the following categories: (a) deaths from heart diseases for

    (i) men over 50

    (ii) women over 50

    (iii) men under 50

    (iv) women under 50

(b) deaths from lung diseases and respiratory problems for the same groups; and the national statistics covering the same diseases, broken down into the same categories.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The information is shown in the tables.

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Deaths from heart disease (ICD(1) code 390–429) for 1993:
<50 50 and over
Greater Manchester Males 206 4,791
Females 64 4,879
Merseyside Males 99 2,633
Females 39 2,835
South Yorkshire Males 109 2,390
Females 22 2,238
West Midlands Males 196 4,636
Females 48 4,330
West Yorkshire Males 151 3,649
Females 40 3,504
England and Wales Males 3,383 88,489
Females 906 86,185

(1) International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision.

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Deaths from respiratory disease (ICD(1) code 460–519) for 1993:

<50 50 and over
Greater Manchester Males 62 2,258
Females 44 2,752
Merseyside Males 32 1,427
Females 25 1,822
South Yorkshire Males 12 1,005
Females 11 1,168
West Midlands Males 60 2,152
Females 30 2,352
West Yorkshire Males 38 1,748
Females 34 2,140
England and Wales Males 1,056 40,746
Females 623 48,445

(1) International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision.

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