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Rabies

Mr. John Marshall: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects to conclude his review of rabies law. [13255]

Mrs. Browning [holding answer 29 January 1997]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) on 15 January 1997, Official Report, column 288.

Farm Animals (Breeding)

Mr. Kevin Hughes: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he has taken in response to the report of the Committee on Ethical Implications of the Emerging Technologies in the Breeding of Farm Animals. [13446]

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Mrs. Browning: The Government have made significant progress in taking forward the various recommendations in this report.

In particular, the Farm Animal Welfare Council has already agreed to adopt the general principles set out in the report and has also established arrangements for liaison with the Animal Procedures Committee.

MAFF holds annual meetings on the need to conserve farm animal breeds, maintains a register of breeds and supports research on animal biodiversity. The Government are continuing to support internationally harmonised controls on genetically modified organisms and efforts to achieve an acceptable EU patents directive.

Cattle Carcases

Mrs. Helen Jackson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what weight of (a) meat and bonemeal and (b) carcases from cattle slaughtered in the over-30-months scheme have been transported from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland; and at what cost. [13625]

Mr. Baldry: No meat and bonemeal or carcases from cattle slaughtered in the over-30-months scheme have been transported from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland.

Mrs. Jackson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what have been the transportation costs in each of the last 12 months of moving BSE waste and carcases between storage, rendering and disposal sites. [13626]

Mr. Baldry: BSE suspects are killed on farm and transported to incinerators for destruction. Transport costs are not recorded separately but are included in an account which covers the costs of transport, incineration and disposal, drugs and miscellaneous other expenses for disposal of BSE suspects. The total expenditure under this account for each month in 1996 was:

MonthAmount £
January327,016
February205,336
March407,416
April140,599
May234,538
June213,368
July215,727
August141,949
September155,235
October248,798
November162,440
December153,149
Total2,605,571

Transportation costs could be separated only at disproportionate cost.

Mrs. Jackson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many and what tonnage of cattle carcases destroyed in the over-30-months scheme are currently being stored in the four dry warehouses and six cold storage depots in Northern Ireland in (a) tonnes and (b) number of cattle carcases. [13624]

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Mr. Baldry: The information requested is as follows:

TonnesNumber of cattle
Dry stores(24)34,390--
Cold stores(25)15,53545,610

(24) As at 17 January 1997.

(25) Current.


Genetically Modified Organisms

Mr. Tyler: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will seek the exclusion of genetically modified organisms and their derivatives from the definition of organic production in the European Union regulations. [13706]

Mrs. Browning: The UK Government believe that genetic technology has the potential for widespread benefit, subject to adequate controls on its use. However, we support the UK organic industry in its wish to see, for the time being, genetically modified organisms specifically prohibited in EC legislation relating to organic farming and food processing.

3 Feb 1997 : Column: 516

The position of derivatives from GMOs, particularly those that are indistinguishable from more conventional products, is more complex. These complexities stem from the practicalities of policing and enforcing any prohibition. We will be considering our position in light of any proposals from the EC Commission.

Marine Contracts

Mr. Ainger: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) how many contracts have been won by his Department for (a) consultancy work and (b) survey work on behalf of developers in the marine environment in each of the last five years; [14096]

Mr. Baldry: The centre for environment, fisheries and aquaculture science, formerly the directorate of fisheries research, which is part of this Department, has been awarded six contracts for monitoring the effects of aggregate extraction on specific aspects of the marine environment. Details of these contracts are:

ProjectDateDurationNumber of reports
Survey of aggregate extraction, licensed area 107(26)September 19948 months1
1995 survey of area 107August 19959 months2
Dredger plume survey, area 107October 19953 months1
Annual monitoring, area 107October 19954 years1 each year
Shrimp monitoring programme, area 107October 19954 years1 each year
Sole monitoring survey, Hastings shingle bankMarch 19965 years1 each year

(26) Area 107 is of the Wash.


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Mr. Ainger: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many reports on environmental surveys in the marine environment have been carried out by his Department as the contractor reporting to his Department as the regulator in each of the last five years. [14097]

Mr. Baldry: Aggregate extraction is regulated by the Department of the Environment under the non-statutory government view procedure. MAFF advises on the potential impact of aggregate dredging on the marine environment and on commercial fishing operations. The table sets out the number of applications which have been accepted under this procedure in each of the past five years:


In each of these cases, the centre for environment, fisheries and aquaculture science has contributed a report on its assessment of the application to assist the Department in making its contribution to the Government view. These arrangements will be recognised in a formal

3 Feb 1997 : Column: 516

relationship with the new agency which will operate from 1 April this year.

Mr. Ainger: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what measures are in place to ensure there is not a conflict of interest between that part of his Department seeking consultancy work on the marine environment from developers and that part of his Department acting as regulator. [14098]

Mr. Baldry: Consultancy assignments are accepted by the centre for environment, fisheries and aquaculture science only on the basis that the work involved requires an objective assessment. Scientists who provide regulatory advice do not contribute to them.

Suckler Cow Premiums

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proportion of suckler cow premium payments in England for the current year had been paid by 1 January 1997. [13940]

Mr. Baldry: By 1 January 1997, approximately 61 per cent. of advance payments under the 1996 suckler cow premium scheme had been made. All advance payments are expected to be made by the citizens charter deadline of 5 March 1997. The vast majority of balance payments will be made between mid-April and 30 June 1997.

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WALES

Newcastle Disease

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what percentage of (a) chickens and (b) turkeys on farms in Wales are currently vaccinated against Newcastle disease; and if he will make a statement. [13601]

Mr. Jonathan Evans: There is no statutory requirement for routine vaccination against Newcastle disease, and the information requested is not held centrally.

Illegal Drugs

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what research his Department has commissioned into the causes of illegal drug use in Wales; and if he will make a statement. [13870]

Mr. Gwilym Jones: The Welsh drug and alcohol unit has produced a review of drug and alcohol research in Wales and is in the process of identifying what further research needs to be undertaken to inform implementation of the Welsh drug and alcohol strategy.


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