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Lord Donoughue: My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food chaired the second meeting under the United Kingdom Presidency of the European Union Council of Agriculture Ministers on 16-17 February in Brussels. I represented the United Kingdom at that meeting.
The Council had a presentation by the Agriculture Commissioner of the Commission's proposals for prices fixed under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the 1998/1999 year. These proposals were described by the Commissioner as broadly a standstill in present CAP support arrangements, pending the forthcoming negotiations on further reform of the CAP in the context of Agenda 2000. Ministerial colleagues in the Council commented on their key priorities within this set of proposals. My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food agreed to take them forward as quickly as possible; that work will begin immediately.
The Council also held a first debate on the Commission's proposals for reform of the tobacco regime, which also form an element of the Agenda 2000 strategy. On behalf of the United Kingdom, and with support from Sweden and Denmark, I expressed concern at the relatively modest nature of these reform proposals and urged more radical steps to reduce support for tobacco production in the Community, bearing in mind the inconsistency with EU efforts to limit tobacco consumption for health reasons. Detailed work on this proposal will now begin.
The Council held a second full debate on proposed amendments to the EU banana regime in response to the recent findings of the WTO Appellate Body. My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food concluded in the light of the debate that further detailed work should continue, and that the Council should resolve this issue quickly, both in order to meet WTO obligations and to give reassurance to EU and ACP banana growers about their futures.
There was a further discussion in the Council of the Commission's proposals in respect of the Community 's beef promotion scheme. Final agreement did not prove possible in view of the requirement to achieve unanimity on this proposal. My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food undertook as Council President to consider the options for taking this proposal forward.
The Commissioner gave the Council a full report on the exchanges he had had with the United States on the negotiation of an EU/US veterinary and phytosanitary equivalence agreement. The Council noted that there had been positive developments in recent contacts between the two sides, and expressed the hope that the terms of an agreement would be ready for endorsement by the Council at its March meeting.
I expressed the concerns of the United Kingdom at the recent interruption to supplies of fish from Russian freezer vessels into the UK, in particular Scotland, and the risk this created to jobs in fish processing. The Commissioner undertook to carry out an urgent examination of the problem.
Finally, the Council discussed the forthcoming OECD Agriculture Ministerial meeting in Paris in March, where consideration would be given to progress on agricultural reform over the last decade. Ministers in the Council debated the line which the European Union would take at this meeting. My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food concluded that there should be co-ordination of the EU line in a High Level Group which will convene in Brussels next week for this purpose.
(a) council houses
(b) housing associations; and
(c) the private sector.[HL617]
|£ per week|
|(a) council tenants||41.18 (at 30 April 1997)|
|(b) housing association tenants||46.74 (at 31 March 1997)|
|(c) private tenants||76.00 (April 1996 to March 1997 average)|
Council and housing association rents are from returns by local authorities and housing associations. The figure for the private rented sector is an estimate from the Survey of English Housing and, like all such estimates, is subject to sampling variability.
How many vehicles have been registered in each of the last five years in the disabled class for first registration of vehicles in the United Kingdom.[HL662]
23 Feb 1998 : Column WA72
Baroness Hayman: The Disabled Drivers' Association have responded to the recent consultation exercise carried out by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. Their views have been taken into account and vehicles first registered in the disabled tax class will be exempt from the fee.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The available information for Cardiff, Liverpool and London relates to recorded offences of homicide (i.e. offences of murder, manslaughter and infanticide) and has been provided by the appropriate police forces in England and Wales. In 1996, there were six homicide offences recorded in the Cardiff area, 14 recorded in the Liverpool City area and 144 recorded in the London area (covering the Metropolitan Police District and the City of London). There were 24 homicides recorded in Glasgow in 1996. There were 17 homicides recorded in Belfast in 1996 and 28 offences recorded in 1997.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The decision to secure the prisoner concerned to the radiator at the court stemmed from the lack of secure custody facilities there, but it was still wrong. The Prison Service and the escort contractor involved, Premier Prison Services, regret what happened. Premier's staff otherwise looked after the prisoner well while she was in their custody and the company has an excellent record of prisoner care generally.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): There are no centrally collected statistics in the form requested on the cost of providing institutional child care for young children. This is due in part to the huge diversity in the types of provision available. The gross cost per child per annum (excluding capital charges) of day care, mainly for children in need, provided by social services departments in England in 1995-96, as estimated by the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy, was £6,293. Families in receipt of Income Support or Family Credit would not be charged for this service. It has also been estimated by the Daycare Trust that in 1997 the typical childcare costs for parents for a full time place for a child under 5 at a private day nursery were between £70 and £180 per week.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health launched the Government's Green Paper Our Healthier Nation with a statement in another place on 5 February. The Green Paper sets out a new strategy for health in England. The strategy's two key aims are:
to improve the health of the worst off in society and to narrow the health gap.
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland published the Green Paper Working Together For a Healthier Scotland on the same day. The Green Paper sets out proposals for improving the health of the population in Scotland.