Previous Section Index Home Page

Chinese Honey

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if (a) chloramphenicol and (b) streptomycin have been found in Chinese honey imported by the UK. [42495]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

Following regulatory action by the European Commission on products of animal origin from China, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) immediately began testing some products of animal origin already in the United Kingdom and as a result called for the withdrawal of jars of Chinese and blended honey on sale in the UK to ensure consumers are protected.

Both streptomycin and chloramphenicol (antibiotics) were found in samples of Chinese and blended honey. The FSA published the results of this analysis in two press releases: 'Tests on Chinese and blended honey show

15 May 2002 : Column 659W

traces of illegal residue of veterinary drug', which was issued on 6 February 2002, and 'Tests on Chinese and blended honey show further illegal drug residue' which was issued on 19 February 2002. Illegal residues of chloramphenicol were also found in samples of another bee product, royal jelly, at similar levels as those found in honey. The FSA again called for the withdrawal of Chinese and other royal jelly products which did not meet legal requirements. The main known risk from chloramphenicol relates to aplastic anaemia, a rare but serious blood disorder in susceptible individuals. The FSA, on the advice of expert toxicologists, has concluded that overall the levels of this antibiotic in honey pose an extremely small risk to public health. The streptomycin found was not considered to be of toxicological concern.

The FSA's advice to the consumer is that, given the extremely small risk, people can continue to eat any honey they have already bought, irrespective of country of origin. This advice also applies to other foods that contain honey, where the risk is even lower. Given the low risk, consumers were not advised against the consumption of royal jelly.

Full details have been published on the FSA website,


Packaging Waste

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what basis the targets under the packaging waste directive were established for (a) plastics, (b) aluminium, (c) steel, (d) glass and (e) paper. [52610]

Mr. Wilson [holding answer 7 May 2002]: As part of the current proposed revision of Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste, the Commission has proposed differentiated material specific targets to be met in 2006. These were largely based on work carried out by the environmental consultants RDC/Pira, which looked at the costs and benefits of recycling each material in order to obtain optimum recycling ranges.

The draft proposal and RDC/Pira report are available on the Commission's website.

Export Credit Guarantees Department

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to which companies the Export Credit Guarantees Department has paid moneys as part of its credit guarantees to that company in each of the last five years; in each case, (a) how much was paid, (b) what the project was against which the guarantee had been made and (c) which country had defaulted on its contractual arrangements; and if she will make a statement. [54360]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 8 May 2002]: This question cannot be answered except at disproportionate cost. However, for each of the financial years 1997–98 to 2000–01 I have provided a list of the companies that ECGD paid claims to. I have also provided a list of the host countries of the defaulting buyers in each of these years and for these countries, the total claims paid in each industrial sector. I have placed a copy of the list in the Libraries of the House.

15 May 2002 : Column 660W

Figures for 2001–02 have not been provided as these have not yet been audited.

Career Packages (R and D)

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she is taking to improve the career packages offered to scientists and engineers working in research and development; and if she will make a statement on the recommendations in Sir Gareth Roberts' review, "SET for success", concerning the tackling of recruitment and retention problems. [56053]

Ms Hewitt: The career packages offered to scientists and engineers working in research and development are a matter for the employer. The Roberts' review's report "SET for success" identified a clear need for employers to improve the attractiveness of careers in R and D in order to compete effectively for talented staff.

In 1997 the Research Careers Initiative (RCI) was established to focus on the policy dimension of improving the career management and development of research careers in the UK. The RCI identifies, encourages and disseminates good practice in the career management and development of contract research staff.

More recently, Sir Gareth Roberts recommended that higher education institutions, as employers of scientists and engineers, should ensure that postdoctoral researchers have clear career development plans and access to training, and that researchers and academics should be better paid. He further recommended that R and D businesses should also offer improved career packages to attract the best science and engineering graduates and postgraduates that the UK has to offer.

"SET for success" recommended that businesses must review their recruitment mechanisms, the salaries offered to researchers, their career structure (including levels of responsibility and opportunities to progress), and the training and continued professional development opportunities that they make available. Sir Gareth also recommended that a group of R and D employers should monitor employers' progress in rising to these challenges.

The Government are formulating a response to the Roberts review, in tandem with the current spending review, and a statement on how the Government will be taking forward the recommendations will be made in due course.

"SET for success" is available electronically at

Council of Ministers (UK Delegation)

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether a Scottish Executive Minister will be a member of the UK delegation to the forthcoming Internal Market, Consumer Affairs and Tourism European Union Council of Ministers meeting on 21 May and what information is being provided by her Department to guarantee effective pre-Council scrutiny by the European Committee of the Scottish Parliament. [55997]

Miss Melanie Johnson: I shall represent the UK at the Internal Market, Consumer Affairs and Tourism Council on 21 May. Pre-Council scrutiny by the European Committee of the Scottish Parliament is a matter for that Parliament and for the Scottish Executive. Council

15 May 2002 : Column 661W

agendas are sent to Scottish Executive officials as are the letters circulated by my officials setting out the prospects for each council meeting. They stand ready to provide other information in line with the provisions of the concordat.


Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what targets her Department uses to measure productivity in the UK (a) for year on year growth, (b) in comparison with other EU countries and (c) in comparison with other G7 countries. [55903]

Ms Hewitt: The joint DTI/HM Treasury PSA target is to improve UK competitiveness by narrowing the productivity gap with the US, France, Germany and Japan over the economic cycle. The method for measuring this target is set out in 'Public Service Agreement 2001–04 Technical Notes', which is available from DTI's website psatechnicalnotes.htm.


Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent representations she has received from businesses regarding the 2002 Budget statement; and if she will make a statement. [55908]

Ms Hewitt: As with all other Budgets, I have received a number of representations, for which I am grateful, from businesses and their representative bodies since the 2002 Budget statement.

Many welcomed the Budget announcements on enterprise, including cuts in corporation tax and capital gains tax, the proposed new training tax credit and the R and D tax credit for large companies, which complements the tax credit already available for smaller companies. I am also aware of business concerns about the Government's decision on employers' national insurance contributions. But there is widespread recognition in the country of the need for more investment—and reform—in our system of healthcare.

Rail Freight (Channel Tunnel)

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will support the complaint made by EWS to the European Commission relating to France and the treaty of Rome free movement of goods provisions in relation to the movement of rail freight through the channel tunnel. [56030]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Commission has already invoked the Free Movement of Goods Regulation in this case. We remain in close contact with the Commission and France about the action that is required by the French authorities to enable normal rail freight services through the channel tunnel to resume. Representations to the Commission from affected businesses will help underline the need for this action.

Next Section Index Home Page