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Lord Lucas: The Government have sent a letter to all livestock farmers, feed merchants and feed compounders in the United Kingdom offering to fund the collection and disposal of any residual stocks of MBM or feed containing MBM. Thereafter, after consultation with the appropriate organisations, an order will be laid to make it illegal to have MBM, or feed containing MBM, on farms or in the premises of feed merchants or at feed mills.
Parliamentary approval to this new service will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for Class III Vote 2 (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food operational expenditure, agencies and departmental administration). Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £6 million will be met by repayable advances from the Contingencies Fund.
Lord Lucas: Tests carried out by the Central Veterinary Laboratory have now confirmed that a bat which died in East Sussex on 3rd June had rabies. The type is European Bat Lyssa Virus Type II. Two people who handled and were bitten by the bat have received post-exposure treatment. A third possible contact is being followed up. No confirmed cases have previously been found in bats in Great Britain. MAFF have carried out a survey of the area where the bat was found and believe it to be an isolated individual from across the English Channel. As a precaution we are arranging to monitor the local bat population for a period.
Lord Lucas: No such estimates are available. However, up to 3rd June 1996 there have been 27,177 confirmed cases of BSE in animals born after the ruminant protein feed ban, which was introduced in July 1988.
Epidemiological investigations carried out following the occurrence of BSE in animals born after the feed ban suggested that exposure was likely to be from a feed-borne source due to accidental cross-contamination of feeding stuffs with meat and bone meal.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The independent Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food's working group on antibiotic resistant micro-organisms referred to in the reply my noble friend Lord Lucas gave him on 6th June at column WA 143, will consider knowledge available since the Swann Report.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): Emergency towing vessels were stationed, as a trial, at Dover and Stornoway as a result of recommendations made by the noble and learned Lord's inquiry and by the Emergency Towing Study Team. The next highest priority identified by the Inquiry and by the Emergency Towing Study Team was the South Western Approaches. On the basis of our experience with the tugs in Dover and Stornoway over the last two winters, we shall station a tug at both these locations again next winter; further, we have decided to place a third tug in the South Western Approaches next winter. We will shortly be inviting competitive tenders for that contract.
Viscount Goschen: Yes. There are plans to introduce new standards, including a character font, for vehicle number plates to improve legibility, and to reduce the scope for misrepresentation. The necessary legislation is expected to be brought before the House later this year.
Whether they expect that the proposals contained in Making the Punishment Fit the Crime (Scottish Office, January 1996), if implemented, to have the effect predicted for similar proposals for England and Wales, described in CM 3190, namely "The Government does not therefore expect the proposals to result in a general increase in the period of time offenders serve in prison"; and
Whether they have received any indication from judges in Scotland that steps may be taken to reduce sentences passed in open court by judges to take account of the abolition of parole and the proposed changes in early release arrangements; and
Whether they expect that judges in Scotland will take into account, when passing sentence, the abolition of parole and the changes in early release arrangements now proposed in Making the Punishment Fit the Crime (Scottish Office, January 1996); and, if so, on what such expectation is based.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (The Earl of Lindsay): The Government's conclusions on the proposals contained in the consultation paper Making the Punishment Fit the Crime will be set out in a White Paper to be published shortly.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.
Lady Blatch has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Question about reported reductions in education provision at Highpoint, Wandsworth and Albany prisons.
At Highpoint prison, the reduction in teaching hours is from 16,500 hours in the calendar year 1995, to a forecast 10,815 hours in the calendar year 1996--a reduction of 34 per cent. At Wandsworth prison, the reduction in teaching hours is from 9,638 hours in 1995 to 4,772 in 1996--a reduction of 50 per cent. At Albany prison, the reduction in teaching hours is from 8,050 hours in 1995 to 3,500 in 1996--a reduction of 56.5 per cent.
The current numbers on roll and the certified normal accommodation at Highpoint prison are, respectively, 665 and 679; at Wandsworth prison they are 840 and 860; and at Albany prison they are 427 and 436.
Adverse effects on the management of these prisons or on the conduct of the prisoners are not expected. Prisoners will continue to have access to a balanced set of regime activities. Priority is given to those activities that contribute to security and control, are constructive and purposeful, offer good value for money and help prisoners to tackle their offending behaviour.
Highpoint prison has closed the classroom accommodation at one of its two sites but will still be able to deliver workshop-based skills at that site, and will be able to deliver a wider range of classes at its other site.
At Wandsworth prison, a proportion of the reduction reflects the reduction in the prison roll from 1,200 to 840 (30 per cent.), and although the number of teaching hours to be delivered has been reduced, the size of classes has increased.
At Albany prison, classes with five or fewer prisoners attending have been cancelled and the prisoners concerned given other activities. Albany prison now requires inmates to work and train rather than attend recreational classes during the day; recreational education is offered in the evening. Prisoners requiring help with basic education are catered for in daytime classes.
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