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Fish Landings: New Controls

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: From 5 January 1999 it will be a condition of UK fishing vessel licences that at least four hours notice must be given of all landings of whitefish and shellfish by vessels of 20m overall length and above. Landings (discharge of catches) must then be completed within four hours unless otherwise authorised. These requirements will not, however, apply where landings are made into designated ports during specified hours provided the master or his representative submits a copy of a completed logsheet prior to the discharge of catch taking place. The designated ports will be those set out in the consultation paper issued last March, although for a number of ports the specified hours of landing have been changed in response to representations received. Prior notification is already required for the landing of the main pelagic species and this will continue to operate.

These arrangements will be kept under review and, if circumstances alter, changes in the arrangements will be considered.

The new arrangements will be consistent with tougher Community controls on landings currently being

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finalised and expected to operate from 1 January 1999. These will enable member states to apply national designated port controls to vessels from other member states and third countries landing into their territory. A more rigorous control requirement for four hours notice of arrival in port is also expected to apply to vessels landing abroad unless specific designated port arrangements operate.

The fisheries departments will be writing to vessels owners and other interests later this month advising them about the detailed arrangements including those for providing prior notification of landing.

Sea Fish Industry Authority: Charges

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the charges levied by the Sea Fish Industry Authority between 1981 and 1985 when processing applications for grant aid.[HL3828]

Lord Donoughue: The Government intend, when the legislative programme allows, to introduce legislation to provide retrospective statutory authority for technical charges levied by the Sea Fish Industry Authority (SFIA) when processing applications for grant aid under the Fisheries Act 1981. This will regularise the position following advice which has cast doubt on the SFIA's view that its powers to charge contained in the Act covered the technical charges which were levied up until 1995.

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary believes that the charges levied were reasonable ones and that the costs of making repayments would be disproportionate to any benefit such repayment would confer on those to whom it was made. The Ministry does not therefore propose to meet any claims that are brought before the proposed legislation is in place.

Badgers: "Road Traffic Accidents"

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When routine testing of badgers killed in road traffic accidents will resume; and which areas will be covered.[HL3665]

Lord Donoughue: The Road Traffic Accident (RTA) Survey of badgers was discontinued in August 1990. Since then RTA badger carcasses have been collected and tested only on an ad-hoc basis as part of the epidemiological investigation of TB incidents.

The Krebs report recommended a limited re-introduction of the RTA survey targeting areas with high or increasing herd breakdown rates and nearby areas with low breakdown rates. The Bourne Group endorsed this recommendation and identified the areas to be surveyed as Cornwall, Devon, Gloucester, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire and Dorset. The Government expect this survey to start in the early part of 1999.

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Organic Wastes on Agricultural Land

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any measures are taken to detect E.coli 0157 and other organisms harmful to animals in abattoir waste products and sewage before they are spread on agricultural land.[HL3773]

Lord Donoughue: Testing for human pathogens in organic wastes is not routinely carried out. Some limited information on their prevalence in organic wastes is available in the scientific literature. Further information on the occurrence and survival of these organisms in the wastes mentioned will be collected as part of a government programme of research and risk assessment on the use of all organic wastes on land. Following a recent review of controls on the agricultural use of sewage sludge the Government have announced, as a precautionary measure, more stringent requirements for treatment and use, including phasing out the use of untreated sewage sludge by the end of 2001.

Dangerous Wild Animals Act: Northern Ireland

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 is not applicable to Northern Ireland; and what safeguards there are in that province against the irresponsible sale of wild animals.[HL3902]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): Under the constitutional arrangements Acts of Parliament dealing with what are termed "transferred matters" do not normally extend to Northern Ireland. However, legislative proposals are monitored with a view to considering whether analogous legislation should be brought forward for Northern Ireland by way of Order in Council. In 1976 the view was apparently that the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 should not be copied into Northern Ireland law, but I regret to say that the reasons why are not clear. It is my intention to bring forward legislative proposals as a matter of urgency after a consultation process.

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act is concerned with the public safety and animal welfare aspects of the keeping of wild animals and, therefore, the absence of its provisions in NI has no direct implications for their sale. The controls on the sale of wild animals in Northern Ireland, as in the rest of the United Kingdom, are contained in EC Regulations 338/97, 938/97 and 939/97 which implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

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School Crossing Patrols

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What decisions they have reached following the recent public consultation on proposed changes to the powers of school crossing patrols.[HL3922]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): Following consideration of the results of the public consultation I have decided that the existing powers of school crossing patrols should be enhanced by allowing them to cross children of any age along with any adults who may wish to use the facility. The existing time limits on when crossings may operate will also be removed. These proposals were supported by a large majority of those who responded to the consultation.

The consultation also asked whether there was a need for the creation of community crossing patrols--attended crossings similar to school patrols but provided at any location where there was a perceived need for one. The majority of those who responded opposed this mainly on the grounds of cost and because there was no need for a further type of crossing in addition to the zebra, pelican and puffin crossings which operate continually.

We will not therefore be proceeding with community crossing patrols but will be taking forward the school crossing patrol changes at the earliest legislative opportunity. A press notice giving further details has been placed in the Library.

Motorways: Weight Restrictions

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which sections of the motorway system have a weight restriction of 38 tonnes or less.[HL3846]

Lord Whitty: The only weight restriction on the motorway system in England is on the westbound slip road on the southern end of the M.11 where a restriction of 3 tonnes will be in force until strengthening work has been carried out. Since the current maximum gross vehicle weight permitted under the Construction and Use Regulations is 38 tonnes (excluding combined road/rail transport), weight restrictions are not placed at 38 tonnes.

Bridges: Weight Limits for Goods Vehicles

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is necessary for goods vehicle operators, when working within Construction and Use Regulations at 44 tonnes gross weight, to notify the highways and bridge authorities when using bridges limited to 38 tonnes.[HL3847]

Lord Whitty: No. It is not necessary to notify highway and bridge authorities in these circumstances.

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Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the broad definition of the HB45 bridge standard; and whether it is intended that the entire motorway system should be designed, built, maintained and operated to this standard.[HL3848]

Lord Whitty: The 45 HB standard is a large, but artificial lorry, weighing 180 tonnes. The standard provides for all vehicles permitted under the Road Traffic Act 1988--Special Types General Order (maximum gross weight 150 tonnes). Since 1961 all motorway bridges have been designed to carry the HB standard.

Since that date there have been a number of further improvements in bridge standards generally. Bridges carrying the motorway network not meeting the current standards are being strengthened both to accommodate the 40-tonne lorries to be introduced on 1 January 1999 and where there is a shortfall in meeting the 45 HB load.

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