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Heathrow: Take-off Statistics

Lord Brabazon of Tara asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The number of take-offs from Heathrow Airport in the last five years was:

1999 229,105

1998 225,678

1997 220,309

1996 220,156

1995 217,250.

The number of easterly departures was:

1999 57,651

1998 50,310

1997 77,062

1996 88,169

1995 72,082.

Visual Arts: Support for Contemporary Work

Lord Carlile of Berriew asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: It is Government policy to support artistic excellence, innovation and access at all levels through the Arts Council of England, which is directly responsible for funding contemporary visual artists and their work. In addition, the Arts Council Collection is the largest national loan collection of post-war British art. The collection aims to buy new and challenging work from artists working in Britain and possesses the work of over 1,700 artists. The collection is used by universities, colleges, local authorities, law courts and hospitals as well as by art galleries.

Over the last two and a half years the amount of contemporary art on display in British Government buildings has increased. The Government Art Collection (GAC) displays works of art by British artists of all periods from the 16th century to the contemporary in major British Government buildings at home and throughout the world. This helps to promote the image of Britain and to reflect its culture, history and creativity in the visual arts. The GAC supports the work of contemporary artists by purchasing and commissioning works of art.

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Youth Unemployment

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many young people were unemployed at the latest date for which figures are available and at the same time two and five years earlier.[HL628]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The New Deal for the youth unemployed covers 18-24 year-old claimants unemployed for more than six months. It shows youth unemployment was 43,306 in December 1999, compared with 109,331 in December 1997 and 277,735 in December 1994.

Short-term Working Groups

Lord Roberts of Conwy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by the Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 8 December (H.L. Deb., col. 1276), how many individuals serve on each of the 250 short-term working groups; what are the group's titles; and to whom they are accountable.HL351]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Details of working groups with external members established since May 1997 have been placed in the Library of the House. These groups are accountable to Ministers, who in turn are accountable to Parliament.

Knowledge Network System

Lord Chadlington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the new Knowledge Network Project will have any effect on the political impartiality of the Civil Service.[HL603]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton : The Knowledge Network System is an information management system designed to modernise and join up the way the Government collect and share information, replacing traditional paper-based systems with a computerised one. The system will cut down duplication of effort and enable everyone to pool their work and knowledge.

Agriculture Council, 24 and 25 January

Baroness Nicol asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the Agriculture Council held in Luxembourg on 24 to 25 January.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman) : My right honourable friend the Minister represented the UK at the Agriculture Council meeting in Brussels on 24 January, accompanied by my right honourable friend the Minister of State (Ms Quin) at MAFF and by Mrs Brid Rodgers MLA, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Council held an in-depth debate on the Commission's proposal for compulsory labelling of

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beef, notably on the indications which are necessary to guarantee traceability and on how to define the origin of beef. My right honourable friend the Minister welcomed the aims of the proposal and stressed our desire that British beef, a premium quality product, be marketed around the world as such. He supported including essential traceability information on the label, whilst stressing the need for some simplification of the Commission's approach. The proposal will return to the Council for decisions in the coming months.

Commissioner Byrne introduced the Commission's White Paper on Food Safety, which outlines plans for a European Food Authority and sets out an action plan for a comprehensive legislative framework intended to guarantee the highest level of consumer protection. Along with all other Council members, my right honourable friend the Minister welcomed the White Paper and the Commission's commitment to a new integrated approach to EU food law with food safety at its heart. The White Paper will now be considered intensively within the Council framework to prepare a report for the Feira European Council in June.

The Council agreed by qualified majority (Germany, Austria and Netherlands opposing) a common position deferring the deadline for introducing compulsory pig databases.

Pig Offal Exports

The Earl of Shrewsbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the current tonnage of offal being exported from dedicated pig-meat abattoirs; and which countries in the European Union take imports of such material.[HL631]

Baroness Hayman: Official Overseas Trade Statistics do not separately identify exports of offal from dedicated pig-meat abattoirs. The following table shows total UK exports of pig offal, and those countries in the European Union which have taken imports of such material.

UK exports of pig offal to EU countries 1998 and January to October 1999

Country1998Jan-Oct 1999
Irish Republic3,6982,073
Total exports to EU47,29031,605
Total exports62,82739,817

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Organophosphorus Sheep Dips

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have conducted any evaluations of the purity of the active ingredients and solvents in organophosphate sheep dip production formulations since the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food News Release 28/92 of January 1992; and, if so, who conducted the studies and with what results.[HL675]

Baroness Hayman: Yes. The active and other ingredients of organophosphorus (OP) sheep dips were reviewed as part of the Veterinary Products Committee (VPC)'s major review of OP sheep dips in 1992 and 1993. In its report published on 1 December 1993 (MAFF News Release No. 424/93), the VPC concluded that there was no firm scientific evidence available at that time to support the hypothesis that the chronic health effects reported were associated with exposure to the OP or other ingredients in sheep dips.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have commissioned any basic research into the nature and mechanisms of toxicity and other components and contaminants in the dipwash, as recommended in the Veterinary Products Committee report of February 1997; and, if so, who conducted the research and with what results.[HL676]

Baroness Hayman: A full list of research and development projects relating to organophosphorus compounds was included in the report of the Official Group on OPs, published in June 1998. The list includes two projects of basic research into the nature and mechanisms of toxicity: a study of the long term electrophysiological effects of sheep dip OPs in the mouse nervous system, and dose effect profiles for OP sheep dips on brain electrical activity and sensitive behaviour indices in non-human primates. The first of these studies has been completed. The second study, which is a three-year project, is under way.

Brittany: Pesticide Levels in Drinking Water

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to make generally available the advice they have received from the British Embassy in Paris and circulated to all staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food that three-quarters of drinking water resources in Brittany have excessive pesticide levels.[HL727]

Baroness Hayman: On 9 March 1999 the French Environment Ministry published a report on the environmental impact of agriculture. The newspaper Le Monde discussed the report on 12 March and,

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amongst other things, quoted it as saying that three-quarters of fresh water sources in Britanny contained excessive pesticide levels. A summary of the Le Monde article was passed to MAFF by the British agricultural attache in Paris and posted, as is standard practice, on the Ministry's Intranet.

The Government have sought clarification from the French authorities. They have confirmed that levels of pesticides in drinking water supplied to the public in Brittany do not, and did not, constitute a risk to health. The Government have no other information over and above that included in the Le Monde article.

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