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Landfill Tax

Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his letter of 3 April 1996 to the director general of the House Builders Federation constitutes Government policy on exemptions to the landfill tax; to what extent the policies in that statement were implemented in the Landfill Tax (Contaminated Land) Order 1996; and if he will make a statement. [13595]

Mr. Oppenheim [holding answer 30 January 1997]: I assume that the letter to which my hon. Friend refers is the one written by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory) when he was Paymaster General. In paragraph 3 of the letter, my right hon. Friend said


He went on to say in paragraph 5


This letter sets our Government policy that, to qualify for the exemption, such wastes would need to arise from a reclamation which facilitates development of the land and removes the potential for the pollutants to cause harm. The removal of the pollutants must be necessary for the development to proceed and any activity that gave rise to the pollutants must have ceased. Where these criteria are met, then all wastes, whether polluted or not, arising from the reclamation would qualify for the exemption. This policy is reflected in the Landfill Tax (Contaminated Land) Order 1996. Copies of the letter have been placed in the Library.

Scott Inquiry

Mr. Robin Cook: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will provide a breakdown of the spending by his Department on external advice in relation to the Scott inquiry, indicating how much has been spent on legal advice and from whom it was obtained. [14539]

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Mr. Kenneth Clarke [holding answer 6 February 1997]: The amount spent by my departments on external advice, including legal advice, in relation to giving evidence to the Scott inquiry and the preparation of the Government's response to it, is £83,740. Of this figure, the cost of legal advice amounted to £74,080, which was the cost to Customs and Excise of external legal advice obtained from two firms of solicitors, Lewis Silkin and Clifford Chance, including the cost of legal advice to counsel required to provide evidence to the inquiry in relation to the Customs prosecutions being examined. The balance of the figure was incurred by the Treasury for general consultancy services of a non-legal nature.

Pension Contributions (Tax Relief)

Mr. Trotter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many individuals would be affected if relief for pension contributions were to be limited for income tax purposes to the standard rate; and what would be the total extra tax raised. [14869]

Mr. Jack [holding answer 10 February 1997]: The estimated full year yield of restricting income tax relief for pension contributions to the basic rate at 1997-98 income levels would be about £880 million. Some 2 million taxpayers would be affected. This is based on a projection of the 1994 survey of personal incomes and other survey data in line with the assumptions in the Budget forecast. It does not take account of any behavioural effects which might result from such a change.

National Savings

Mr. Hall: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 4 February, Official Report, column 565, what was the date on which the decision was made to audit and certify all National Savings accounts. [15254]

Mrs. Angela Knight [holding answer 11 February 1997]: The decision to audit and certify all national savings product accounts was taken on 20 May 1994.

German Unemployment Level

Mr. David Shaw: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the January

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rise in German unemployment on (a) progress towards European convergence and (b) United Kingdom growth prospects. [15364]

Mr. Kenneth Clarke [holding answer 11 February 1997]: German claimant unemployment rose 510,000 to 4,658,000 in January 1997. On a seasonally adjusted basis, it rose 160,000 to 4,317,000. The Government take the view that it is unlikely, although not impossible, that there will be sufficient convergence for economic and monetary union to proceed safely on 1 January 1999. The UK recovery is broadly based and growth is forecast to continue to be faster than in our major European competitors.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Bread (Labelling)

Mr. Chris Davies: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what requirements are placed upon food manufacturers regarding the labelling of iron content of bread; and if he will make a statement. [14995]

Mrs. Browning: If the flour used in bread making contains no added ingredients other than the statutorily required nutrients such as iron, then the addition of these nutrients need not be declared in the ingredients list of pre-packed bread. If any other ingredient is added to the flour then all the ingredients added to the flour, including the nutrients such as iron, must be declared in the ingredients list of pre-packed bread.

These labelling rules do not apply to non pre-packed bread.

Habitat Depletion and Contamination

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what measures he has taken to reduce the contamination of the habitats of birds and wild mammals from herbicides and pesticides; what studies have been (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated by his Department into the effects on habitats of pesticides and herbicides; and what assessment he has made of the impact of habitat depletion and contamination on wild birds in the United Kingdom. [15064]

Mrs. Browning: The direct impact of each pesticide product on birds and wild mammals is assessed before an approval for that product is granted. Advice on the protection of wildlife and their habitats is provided particularly through the Code of Practice on the Safe Use of Pesticides on Farms and Holdings.

Details of current Government research were provided in my reply today and by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment on 17 December 1996, Official Report, column 544, to the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell). The results of this research will be evaluated when available.

Song Birds

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the consequences for the numbers and varieties of song birds of the range of arable incentive schemes proposed by his Department. [14674]

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Mr. Boswell: The Ministry's agri-environment schemes encourage agricultural practices which are sympathetic to the requirements of song birds. We have also recently introduced new payments for retaining winter stubbles and undersowing arable crops with grass in two environmentally sensitive areas; and we have announced proposals for a pilot scheme as part of countryside stewardship to test the most effective arable farming methods to protect wildlife species such as farmland birds. On the basis of advice from English Nature and environmental bodies and of published research, these measures should bring significant benefits for song birds in England.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the summer use of (a) organophosphates and (b) pyrethroids on the numbers and range of songbirds. [14675]

Mrs. Browning: The Department of the Environment and English Nature, on behalf of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, are funding a review of the available information on the indirect effects of pesticides on farmland birds. I understand that the results will be published later this year.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is also funding relevant research which was listed in the reply given to him by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment on 17 December Official Report, column 544.

The results of these projects will be made available to the Advisory Committee on Pesticides and the Pesticides Forum.

Fisheries Agreements

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he will list those countries which benefit from the EU fisheries agreements with third countries, including their respective share of such agreements by weight of catch and value; [14828]

Mr. Baldry: Much of this information is not available in the form requested and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. I refer the hon. Member to the answers that I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for South Hams (Mr. Steen) on 28 October and 7 November 1996, Official Report, columns 52 and 660 respectively, which provided details of current fisheries agreements between the European Community and third countries.

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the United Kingdom contribution in (a) sterling and (b) percentage terms to the cost of EU fisheries agreements with third countries for each year since 1986; [14830]

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Mr. Baldry: Details of the cost to the EU budget of fisheries agreements with third countries are given in the table.

Cost of EU fisheries agreements with third countries

ECU (million)£ (million)
198655.636.0
198781.958.9
1988139.594.6
1989161.5105.7
1990173.0122.8
1991171.4119.9
1992195.6138.4
1993188.9148.5
1994140.6107.7
1995158.1127.7
1996(7)270.0226.7

(7) Budget appropriation. Final outturn expenditure figures not yet available.

Source:

EU budget documents 1988-1996.



The United Kingdom contributes to the EU budget as a whole and it is not therefore possible to identify separately the UK contribution to EU fisheries agreements with third countries. Details of UK contributions can be found in the annual White Paper statements on the EU budget. In 1996, the UK's gross contribution to the budget was about 15 per cent. of the total.

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will support the recommendations of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities in its Third report of Session 1996-97 on third country fisheries agreements, HL 28, that the recipients of EU fisheries agreements with third countries should pay a greater share of the cost of such agreements. [14833]

Mr. Baldry: The Government welcome this timely and balanced report and will provide a full and considered response in due course. I made it clear in my oral evidence to the sub-committee that I consider it reasonable that those fishermen and member states benefitting from fisheries agreements with third countries should contribute a greater share of the costs.


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