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Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Review Group

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: My right honourable friends the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Secretary of State for Wales have appointed Professor Lynda Warren, Professor of Environmental Law at the University of Wales, to chair the independent Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Review Group. In addition, Dr. Nick Giles, Mr. John Golding, Dr. Keith Hendry, Mr. Derek Heselton MBE, Mr. David Hodgkiss, Mrs. Jean Howman, Mrs. Jane James, Dr. Mike Ladle, Mr. Frank Lythgoe, Mr. David Moore, Mr. Mervyn Mountjoy, Mr. Pat O'Reilly, Mr. Stanley Payne, Dr. Anne Powell, Professor Kerry Turner and Mr. John Williams have been appointed members.

The terms of reference for the review group are:

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    freshwater fish and make recommendations. The review and recommendations should take particular account of:

    the need to maintain, and where appropriate enhance, biodiversity;

    the need to maximise the economic, social and recreational benefits derived from salmon and freshwater fisheries, taking account both of the interests of local communities and local factors and traditions;

    the need for management of fisheries to be on a fully sustainable basis, taking account of the precautionary approach.

The review should also consider other factors that may affect the development and sustainability of these fisheries.

The review should examine the institutional arrangements for the regulation and management of these fisheries (including the role of the public sector, the need to involve all interested parties, and arrangements in tidal and coastal waters) and how best such arrangements can be funded."

Members have been appointed in an independent capacity on the basis of their individual knowledge and expertise of fisheries and/or related conservation issues. We believe the group is well suited to making recommendations for the future management and conservation of salmon and freshwater fish and look forward to receiving its report in late 1999.

BSE: Compulsory Slaughter of Offspring

Lord Burton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Donoughue of 27 March (WA 263-4), why the compulsory slaughter of, and subsequent compensation for, offspring from cows which have contracted BSE has been stopped as from 1 January, if such offspring are more likely to develop BSE than other cattle raised in similar conditions.[HL1397]

Lord Donoughue: We have not yet introduced a programme for the compulsory slaughter of offspring of confirmed BSE cases. We are still awaiting a positive decision on our proposals from the Standing Veterinary Committee. We submitted proposals to the European Commission on 2 October for the compulsory slaughter of offspring born on or after 1 August 1996 to BSE cases. These proposals underpinned those for a Date Based Export Scheme, designed to lift the export ban for all cattle born on or after 1 August 1996.

Both of these proposals were considered by the Commission's Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) in December 1997, and subsequently revised by my officials. A second, combined proposal was submitted to the Commission on 29 January 1998. A copy of this proposal is in the House Library. We are now pressing the Commission to put a proposal in front of their Standing Veterinary Committee.

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Food Safety Surveillance: Reporting of Results

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the review of the arrangements for reporting surveys on residues in food has been completed.[HL1409]

Lord Donoughue: The Government are committed to informing the public about all food safety matters. Following the changes announced in July last year, we agreed to further improvements in the reporting of surveillance results. To continue to improve openness and information to consumers, the brand names of products tested in veterinary drug residue surveillance exercises will now be published on a regular basis.

The UK has in place a statutory national sampling and surveillance scheme to fulfil its Community obligations to monitor whether veterinary drug residues remain in animal products for human consumption in unacceptable concentrations. This, and a complementary non-statutory programme, is operated by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). Under the programmes, some 35,000 samples will be collected in 1998 and subjected to around 50,000 analyses. The VMD reports the results of its surveillance quarterly in the Medicines Act Veterinary Information Service (MAVIS). This will continue and as much information as is available at the time of publication will be presented on positive results in this newsletter. Full information on these will then be presented in the VMD Annual Report on Surveillance for Veterinary Residues, published in July each year. Under the statutory scheme, however, certain information on results that may eventually be the subject of criminal prosecutions will not be able to be published until the necessary investigations have been completed. If, however, an issue of public health arises from a sample or group of samples, the results and any necessary consumer advice will be made public immediately. Under the non-statutory programme, the VMD has developed a special arrangement under which some retailers voluntarily provide a wide range of samples, selected by the VMD, with a complete audit trail. The rest of the programme collects samples under randomised arrangements. This strategy delivers significant efficiencies without compromising the consumer and the Government have decided that while the results of all samples provided under this scheme must be reported, the brand names of samples collected under the special voluntary arrangements will not. We shall, however, keep this issue under review.

Planned surveys for residues of veterinary drugs will continue to be announced in advance in MAVIS, as has been our practice for some years. However, the sheer scale of the programmes precludes releasing the brands to be sampled in advance. We are committed to giving consumers the maximum possible information on the presence of residues in food and will ensure that this is provided with appropriate advice on the public health significance of any results. Consumers will, therefore, be able to make a more informed choice about the food that they buy. We will, of course, make every effort to

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ensure the fairness of any tests and not seek to favour, or criticise, one manufacturer or source over another. We are confident that the results will continue to show that the incidence of veterinary drug residues from all sources in food is very low and poses no significant health risk to consumers.

Bovine Tuberculosis

Baroness Williams of Crosby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the number of outbreaks of bovine tuberculosis in cattle in Great Britain in 1985, 1990 and 1997.[HL1371]

Lord Donoughue: The provisional figure for new confirmed herd breakdowns in Great Britain in 1997 is 515. The numbers of outbreaks in 1985 and 1990 respectively were 85 and 173. Because of changes in the way the data were collected, these figures are not directly comparable with that for 1997.

Greater London Assembly: Electoral System

Lord Chesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to introduce a closed list system of voting for the election of candidates to the proposed Greater London Authority.[HL1495]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): The White Paper, A Mayor and Assembly for London, makes clear that the Greater London Assembly will be composed of 25 members elected under the Additional Member System. Of these, 14 will be elected to represent specific geographical areas, using the first past the post system. In addition, 11 members will be elected from a London-wide list.

For the election of the 11 London-wide members, the names of parties and of independent candidates will appear on the ballot paper. In the case of party votes, the successful candidates will be drawn in order from party lists which voters can read before they vote.

Greater London Authority

Lord Bowness asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the responsibilities of the Greater London Authority will differ between the City of London, Inner London and Outer London (A Mayor and Assembly for London (Cm 3897), footnote to paragraph 6.11).[HL1486]

Baroness Hayman: The GLA will be responsible for the police service in Inner and Outer London, but not in the City of London, where the City Corporation will be responsible.

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Lord Bowness asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) for which planning applications, to be defined in secondary legislation, will the Mayor of London be a statutory consultee (A Mayor and Assembly for London (Cm 3897), paragraph 5/67) with power to direct refusal;

    (b) how many such applications it is anticipated will be referred in each year to the Mayor; and

    (c) how many staff will be required to process these applications.[HL1487]

Baroness Hayman: The Mayor will be a statutory consultee for planning applications of strategic importance. These will be defined in secondary legislation and, as the White Paper indicates, there will be separate consultation on which categories of applications should properly fall within this definition. The White Paper envisages that the number of such cases would amount to between 100 and 300 per year at most.

The Mayor's role would be to advise the local planning authorities on the strategic implications of such applications. It is envisaged that he or she would need to use the proposed powers of direction only in exceptional cases. The Mayor would need to be supported by a small unit in performing this function. Setting the appropriate staffing levels for such a unit will be a matter for the Mayor.

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