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Sri Lankan Asylum Seekers: Consideration of Torture Claims

Baroness Whitaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: As each application for asylum is considered individually, it is not possible to specify grounds for every Sri Lankan application refused during 1999 where torture was an issue; these will have been given in the individual reasons for refusal letters.

An asylum seeker's testimony of torture, and any medical evidence which may be supplied, is taken very seriously and weighed by the caseworker in the context of all the available evidence. If it is decided to refuse an application in which torture is alleged, the letter giving the reasons for refusal will explain how the medical evidence has been considered in relation the other evidence available and, if applicable, why the caseworker disagrees with the conclusion given in the medical report.

Remands for Psychiatric Reports

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The information is not available centrally.

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The Home Office Court Proceedings Database does not hold information about the reasons why defendants are remanded in custody.

R18 Videos: Regulation

Baroness Goudie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the consultation paper on the British Board of Film Classification's Annual Report for 1999.[HL3568]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My right honourable friend, the Home Secretary, has today placed in the Library a consultation paper on the regulation of R18 videos. As your Lordships will be aware, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary and I were extremely disappointed with the High Court decision, on 16 May, which dismissed the British Board of Film Classification's application for judicial review in respect of appeals against its decision not to classify seven sexually explicit videos in the R (restricted) 18 category--which are available only in licensed sex shops. The Government maintain a firm commitment to the protection of children from unsuitable sexually explicit material and, in the light of the recent judgment, publishing a consultation paper which examines a number of options to improve the safeguards for children from possible exposure to videos classified in the R (restricted) 18 category. The paper also proposes measures for modernising and strengthening the recruitment and appointment procedures of the Video Appeals Committee.

Milk Production

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    For the latest full year for which statistics are available, what is the maximum amount of milk which is allowed to be produced from British herds under the common agriculture policy; what is the consumption of milk and dairy products in Britain; and how is the difference between British production and British consumption made up.[HL3644]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): Milk production in the UK, as in other EU member states, is constrained by the milk quota system. The UK's quota allocation in the 1998-99 quota year was 14.590 million tonnes before additional levies became payable. Actual production for the same period was 14.625 million tonnes.

In the calendar year 1999, the total milk available for use in the manufacture of drinking milk and milk products was 14.662 million tonnes in milk equivalent terms. Production of milk and milk products in the UK comprises products made from both domestically produced and imported milk.

The utilisation of milk for liquid consumption in 1999 is forecast at 7,111 thousand tonnes, 48.5 per cent of which was home produced. The position for other products is more complicated as they are more amenable to international trade. The table below shows data for production, import and export of the major milk products and the amounts available for use on the home market.

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Supply of milk products in the United Kingdom in 1999
'000 tonnes

ButterCheeseCreamCondensed MilkFull cream powderSkimmed milk powder
Total new supply1995841991392057
Change in stock111--10-11
Total domestic use 1885841991382068

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Timber Production

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ask Forest Enterprise, which produces 60 per cent of United Kingdom coniferous timber, to reduce the volume they produce annually, in the interests of obtaining better prices for all producers.[HL3530]

Baroness Hayman: A reduction in the volume of timber produced by Forest Enterprise would not have a significant effect on prices, as the prices obtained by producers of coniferous timber in the United Kingdom are very strongly linked to the prices of imported timber. This is because the United Kingdom imports about 85 per cent of its timber requirements. The end users of timber grown in the United Kingdom would simply switch to using imported timber if UK timber was not available at a competitive price. We therefore have no plans to ask Forest Enterprise to reduce the volume that it produces.

Arable Area Payments

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the new advice being given to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food regional administrators of the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) relating to the application of the rules of the arable area payments scheme of the European Union Common Agricultural Policy.[HL3576]

Baroness Hayman: Changes to the Arable Area Payments Scheme (AAPS) which will apply in 2001 will be set out in the 2001 up-date to the 2000 explanatory guide to the AAPS which will be sent to all arable farmers later this year and will be placed in the Library of the House.

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements they are making to pay farmers interest on arable area payments which were paid late in 1995.[HL3577]

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Baroness Hayman: MAFF will provide compensation in the form of interest to farmers who received late payment of their 1995 claims under the Arable Area Payments Scheme for the reasons highlighted in the Seventh Report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration for Session 1999-2000. As agreed with the ombudsman, and in line with common practice across government departments, the compensation payments will be subject to a de minimis level of £50. MAFF has a full list of all the AAPS applicants that were affected, and work is in progress to calculate the compensation to which they are entitled. When that work has been completed the applicants will be notified of the amount of compensation to which they are due. There is no need for individual farmers to apply to the Ministry for payment.

Organic Food Standards

Lord Vinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Hayman on 12th July (WA 33-34), whether the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food relies only on the standards laid down by the United Kingdom Register of Organic Food Standards (UKROFS) when awarding organic status; what steps they take to check the veracity of the scientific rationale used by UKROFS when drawing up such standards; and whether they will place a copy of the standards in the Library of the House.[HL3614]

Baroness Hayman: Organic status is not awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Producers, processors and importers of organic food are registered by private sector inspection bodies approved by UKROFS and, in a limited number of cases, by UKROFS itself. The inspection bodies, of which seven have been approved, must apply standards no less than those required by UKROFS. In general UKROFS standards are now set by Community legislation which is negotiated in the usual way. For organic crop products the UKROFS standards comply with those laid down by Council Regulation (EEC) 2092/91. For organic livestock and livestock products, existing national standards drawn

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up by UKROFS will shortly be replaced with standards complying with Council Regulation (EC) 1804/1999. We will arrange for copies of the existing UKROFS standards, and as soon as possible the revised ones for organic livestock and livestock products, to be placed in the Library of the House.

Asian Longhorn Beetle

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Hayman on 29 June (WA 104-105), whether they will list the expenditure budgeted by the Forestry Commission in the current financial year on (a) its own costs for working with overseas researchers; (b) its own research; and (c) its contribution to the costs of overseas research.[HL3704]

Baroness Hayman: The Forestry Commission does not have a specific budget for research on the Asian Longhorn Beetle, but last year it spent £17,000 working with overseas researchers, particularly in China and the USA, where extensive research is being undertaken on the beetle. The commission is not carrying out its own research, nor is it contributing financially to overseas research.

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