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Women Imprisoned for Murder

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Blatch: I will write to the noble Lord with the information requested.

Deportation: Matters Considered before Enforcement

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Blatch: The reference in the previous guidance (DP/2/93) to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights proved not to be an accurate reflection of the requirements of the convention in this area.

Asylum Immigrant (Ref. TN3/96/80865): Investigation

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Blatch: The matters raised by the noble Lord are being investigated following a complaint by the passenger's representatives on 22nd July. I shall write to the noble Lord when the investigation has concluded.

Europol Convention: Operational Powers

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that there should be effective judicial remedies for the misuse of the powers conferred by the Europol Convention upon the police in every member state of the European Union; and, if so, whether they will undertake to ratify the convention only if such remedies can be secured to everyone within the jurisdiction of every member state.

Baroness Blatch: Europol will be a central co-ordinating body within the European Union for the exchange and analysis of criminal intelligence. It will not have any operational powers. The Europol Convention does not confer additional operational powers on member states' police forces, whose actions will remain subject to domestic law.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider it satisfactory that the European Court of Justice should have uneven jurisdiction in regard to the member states in interpreting and applying the Europol Convention; and

    Whether they consider that the Europol Convention should be applied on a uniform and consistent basis in all the member states of the European Union.

Baroness Blatch: We are content with the arrangements that have been agreed. Individual member states' engagement with Europol will be regulated by their national law. It has always been our view that any disputes would be satisfactorily resolved at a domestic level, without the need for the European Court of Justice to be involved. However, other member states felt that it would be helpful to their courts to be able to seek preliminary rulings from the European Court of Justice. We have accordingly agreed an optional protocol under which those member states who wish to may provide for references to the court.

A.92 Trunk Road Scheme

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to convert the stretch of the A.92 between Balmedie and Tipperty in Aberdeenshire to dual carriageway.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (The Earl of Lindsay): This scheme was included in the list of major trunk road schemes planned to start between April 1997 and March 1999 announced by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland on 19th December 1995. The statutory process will begin this autumn with the publication of the necessary draft road orders.

Eurostar: Security

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ensure that all passengers and luggage carried by Eurostar are searched effectively to diminish the risk of terrorist bomb attacks.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): All passengers and luggage carried by Eurostar are already liable to search. EPS are required to search a percentage of passengers and baggage--the percentage varies depending on the levels of threat and risk as assessed by Government agencies.

Ashford International Station: Security

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether effective measures have been taken to combat the risk of terrorist bomb attacks upon trains stopping at Ashford and Calais en route for the Channel Tunnel; if so, what measures have been taken.

Viscount Goschen: Appropriate security measures have been put in place at Ashford International Station. It is not our practice to reveal details of the particular measures. Security at Calais-Fretun is the responsibility of the French Government.

"Rural England 1996"

Lord Annaly asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish their progress report on the Rural White Paper Rural England: A Nation Committed to a Living Countryside.

Lord Lucas: My right honourable friends the Secretary of State for the Environment and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food intend to publish the progress report Rural England 1996 on 24th October 1996. This reports on progress in implementing the commitments made in Rural England, which we published in October 1995.

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Organophosphorus Sheep Dips: Investigating Committee Membership

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which of the members of the Medical and Scientific Panel of the Veterinary Products Committee investigating the effects of exposure of humans to organophosphate sheep dips are, or have been, associated with DERA, formerly CBDE, Porton Down in any way.

Lord Lucas: The Medical and Scientific Panel to the Veterinary Products Committee (VPC) was established in 1994 to provide the VPC with specialist scientific and medical advice on human health aspects of organophosphorus sheep dips. The Government do not hold the information requested readily to hand. However, the secretary to the panel will now write to all the members asking them for any details they feel able to provide about such association, and I will then write to the noble Lady when the replies have been received.

Charitable Events on Set-aside Land

Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will propose that EU law on the use of set-aside land should be amended to permit charitable events to take place on set-aside land by arrangement with MAFF rather than with individual farmers.

Lord Lucas: No. If a charity wishes to use set-aside land for a fund raising event, it should agree with the farmer that he is content for the land to be used free of charge and the farmer must then seek permission from his Regional Service Centre for and exemption to allow the use of the set-aside land. I am pleased to be able to say that the European Commission has now given an undertaking to Her Majesty's Government to permit use of set-aside land for charitable fund-raising events in the future.

BSE in Cattle Born after July 1988

Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What explanation they have for the infection with BSE of cattle born after the ban imposed on 18th July 1988 upon the use of ruminant-derived meat and bone meal as a feedstuff, and what confidence they have that the factors permitting such infection have now been eliminated.

Lord Lucas: When the first case of BSE in an animal born after the July 1988 feed ban was confirmed in March 1991 extensive investigations were put in place to look at the food sources to which the animal had been exposed as well as at other possible risks of

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transmission, such as vertical or horizontal transmission, to determine whether feed or some other route was responsible for the infection. Initial studies showed that some feed manufactured before the ban had been retained on farms and used after the ban had been introduced. The investigations continued as born after the ban (BAB) cases occurred in animals born in 1989 and subsequent years. By autumn 1994 it was apparent that the geographical distribution of BAB cases differed from that of pre-feed ban BSE cases generally. BAB cases were more prevalent in areas with a high percentage of pig and poultry farms. Pig and poultry feed could then legitimately contain meat and bonemeal (MBM) and in such areas there was a higher possibility of cross contamination of ruminant feed with MBM. Also, in August 1994 samples of cattle feed taken on a farm were shown to be cross contaminated with MBM, demonstrating that such cross contamination could occur in practice. Finally, the results of the so-called case control study looking in detail at possible causes of BSE in BAB animals were obtained at the end of 1994. This study found no evidence of horizontal or vertical transmission of BSE in BAB cases and concluded that a foodborne source of infection was the most likely explanation. (Details of this work were published in the Veterinary Record of 1st April 1995 and given in the May 1995 Progress Report on BSE, a copy of which is in the Library of the House). Putting together all of this evidence allowed the conclusion to be drawn that most BAB BSE cases have resulted from exposure to accidentally contaminated ruminant feed.

The measures put in place by the Government since 20th March, in particular the extension of the prohibition on the feeding of mammalian protein to all farm animals and the stricter controls in slaughterhouses, should eliminate the risk of production and subsequent consumption of accidentally contaminated animal feed.

Recent results have shown that maternal transmission of BSE (i.e., from a cow to her calf) can occur, albeit at a very low rate, around 1 per cent. under field conditions. There is evidence that the risk is greater for a calf born within six months of the mother dying of BSE. Some BAB cases may, therefore, have arisen as a result of maternal transmission. However, only 1,205 of the 28,464 BAB cases confirmed up to 1st August 1996 are themselves the offspring of BSE dams, and the feed-borne source of infection remains the major route of infection of BAB cases.

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