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Mammalian Meat and Bone Meal: Disposal of Stocks

Lord Kingsland asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Lucas: The Government have sent a letter to all livestock farmers, feed merchants and feed compounders in the United Kingdom offering to fund the collection and disposal of any residual stocks of MBM or feed containing MBM. Thereafter, after consultation with the appropriate organisations, an order will be laid to make it illegal to have MBM, or feed containing MBM, on farms or in the premises of feed merchants or at feed mills.

Parliamentary approval to this new service will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for Class III Vote 2 (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food operational expenditure, agencies and departmental administration). Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £6 million will be met by repayable advances from the Contingencies Fund.

17 Jun 1996 : Column WA6

Bat Death: Rabies Diagnosis

Lord Kingsland asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it has been able to confirm rabies in the bat in East Sussex which died on 3rd June.

Lord Lucas: Tests carried out by the Central Veterinary Laboratory have now confirmed that a bat which died in East Sussex on 3rd June had rabies. The type is European Bat Lyssa Virus Type II. Two people who handled and were bitten by the bat have received post-exposure treatment. A third possible contact is being followed up. No confirmed cases have previously been found in bats in Great Britain. MAFF have carried out a survey of the area where the bat was found and believe it to be an isolated individual from across the English Channel. As a precaution we are arranging to monitor the local bat population for a period.

In addition a notice under the Rabies (Control) Order 1974 has been served on a premises restricting movement of other bats there and requiring cleansing and disinfection.

BSE Cases in Animals Born after Ruminant Protein Feed Ban

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will estimate how many BSE cases would not have occurred each year if the prohibitions on the incorporation of ruminant protein in any feed for farmed livestock which came into force on 29th March 1996 had been introduced (a) at the time of the original 1988 "ruminant feed ban", (b) in 1993, (c) in 1994.

Lord Lucas: No such estimates are available. However, up to 3rd June 1996 there have been 27,177 confirmed cases of BSE in animals born after the ruminant protein feed ban, which was introduced in July 1988.

Epidemiological investigations carried out following the occurrence of BSE in animals born after the feed ban suggested that exposure was likely to be from a feed-borne source due to accidental cross-contamination of feeding stuffs with meat and bone meal.

EU: Animal Feed Sterilisation

The Earl of Bradford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether other member countries of the European Community have satisfactorily guaranteed that there is no danger of cross-contamination occurring between different species of farm animals by ensuring the complete sterilisation of feed.

Lord Lucas: No other member states of the European Union has taken such measures.

17 Jun 1996 : Column WA7

Antibiotics in Animal Feed: Monitoring

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ask the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) to take account of all increases of knowledge concerning antibiotics, resistance to them in both animals and humans, and other undesirable side-effects, occurring since the Swann Report of 1969.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The independent Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food's working group on antibiotic resistant micro-organisms referred to in the reply my noble friend Lord Lucas gave him on 6th June at column WA 143, will consider knowledge available since the Swann Report.

Emergency Towing Arrangements

Lord Donaldson of Lymington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they have taken or intend to take on the Report of the Emergency Towing Study Team (the "Belton Report") dated May 1995 or on the amended version dated December 1995.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): Emergency towing vessels were stationed, as a trial, at Dover and Stornoway as a result of recommendations made by the noble and learned Lord's inquiry and by the Emergency Towing Study Team. The next highest priority identified by the Inquiry and by the Emergency Towing Study Team was the South Western Approaches. On the basis of our experience with the tugs in Dover and Stornoway over the last two winters, we shall station a tug at both these locations again next winter; further, we have decided to place a third tug in the South Western Approaches next winter. We will shortly be inviting competitive tenders for that contract.

Vehicle Number Plates

The Marquess of Ailesbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans to make vehicle number plates more easy to read.

Viscount Goschen: Yes. There are plans to introduce new standards, including a character font, for vehicle number plates to improve legibility, and to reduce the scope for misrepresentation. The necessary legislation is expected to be brought before the House later this year.

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"Making the Punishment Fit the Crime": Scottish Office Consultation Paper

Lord McCluskey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be the effects of implementing the proposals contained in Making the Punishment Fit the Crime (Scottish Office, January 1996) (i) upon the numbers of prisoners and (ii) upon the costs (capital and revenue) of the Prison Services in Scotland; and

    Whether they expect that the proposals contained in Making the Punishment Fit the Crime (Scottish Office, January 1996), if implemented, to have the effect predicted for similar proposals for England and Wales, described in CM 3190, namely "The Government does not therefore expect the proposals to result in a general increase in the period of time offenders serve in prison"; and

    Whether they have received any indication from judges in Scotland that steps may be taken to reduce sentences passed in open court by judges to take account of the abolition of parole and the proposed changes in early release arrangements; and

    Whether they expect that judges in Scotland will take into account, when passing sentence, the abolition of parole and the changes in early release arrangements now proposed in Making the Punishment Fit the Crime (Scottish Office, January 1996); and, if so, on what such expectation is based.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (The Earl of Lindsay): The Government's conclusions on the proposals contained in the consultation paper Making the Punishment Fit the Crime will be set out in a White Paper to be published shortly.

An assessment of the effect of these proposals upon sentencing practice and prisoner numbers will be included in that paper.

Education Provision in Prisons

Lord Elton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, as reported by the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE), the reduction in target hours of education to be given to inmates in the current year is 45.5 per cent. at HMP Highpoint, 52.2 per cent. at HMP Wandsworth and 83.3 per cent. at HMP Albany; what is the current number on roll and Certified Normal Accommodation (CNA) at each of those prisons; whether there are to be further cuts in education at any of those prisons; and what they expect the effects on the management of those prisons and the conduct of their inmates to be.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

17 Jun 1996 : Column WA9

Letter to Lord Elton from the Director of Security and Programmes, The Prison Service, Mr. A. J. Pearson, dated 17th June 1996.

Lady Blatch has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Question about reported reductions in education provision at Highpoint, Wandsworth and Albany prisons.

Information on the number of hours of education provided in prisons is measured as the number of teaching hours contracted for and delivered.

At Highpoint prison, the reduction in teaching hours is from 16,500 hours in the calendar year 1995, to a forecast 10,815 hours in the calendar year 1996--a reduction of 34 per cent. At Wandsworth prison, the reduction in teaching hours is from 9,638 hours in 1995 to 4,772 in 1996--a reduction of 50 per cent. At Albany prison, the reduction in teaching hours is from 8,050 hours in 1995 to 3,500 in 1996--a reduction of 56.5 per cent.

The current numbers on roll and the certified normal accommodation at Highpoint prison are, respectively, 665 and 679; at Wandsworth prison they are 840 and 860; and at Albany prison they are 427 and 436.

There are no further reductions planned at Highpoint or Wandsworth prisons; there is expected to be a further small reduction in hours in 1997 at Albany prison.

Adverse effects on the management of these prisons or on the conduct of the prisoners are not expected. Prisoners will continue to have access to a balanced set of regime activities. Priority is given to those activities that contribute to security and control, are constructive and purposeful, offer good value for money and help prisoners to tackle their offending behaviour.

Highpoint prison has closed the classroom accommodation at one of its two sites but will still be able to deliver workshop-based skills at that site, and will be able to deliver a wider range of classes at its other site.

At Wandsworth prison, a proportion of the reduction reflects the reduction in the prison roll from 1,200 to 840 (30 per cent.), and although the number of teaching hours to be delivered has been reduced, the size of classes has increased.

At Albany prison, classes with five or fewer prisoners attending have been cancelled and the prisoners concerned given other activities. Albany prison now requires inmates to work and train rather than attend recreational classes during the day; recreational education is offered in the evening. Prisoners requiring help with basic education are catered for in daytime classes.

17 Jun 1996 : Column WA10


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