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CAP Reform

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: Amendments to the common agricultural policy must be agreed in the Agriculture Council, which would require a qualified majority of 62 votes out of the 87 available. Negotiations on the latest Commission proposals for reform have only just begun and we have a long way to go before the issue is put to the vote.

Common Fisheries Policy

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: The common fisheries policy is based on Articles three and 39 to 47 of the EC Treaty. The policy can be reformed by a qualified majority in the Council of Ministers on the basis of a proposal from the European Commission. However, abolition of the policy or the UK's withdrawal from it would require the unanimous agreement of member states to a treaty amendment.

Animal Health and Welfare

Lord Davies of Coity asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: We published on 20 April a document setting out our future animal health and welfare research requirements and inviting tenders for

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research work to be financed in the year starting on 1 April 1999, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House. This document focuses particularly on animal welfare, organisms capable of causing food poisoning and bovine tuberculosis. Further documents setting out animal health and welfare research requirements will be published in future years.

This is a broad programme. One of the key elements builds on our current work to improve our understanding of how E.coli behaves on farms and to identify the critical control points for risk management. This will complement work being financed by other departments.

The document also takes forward the recommendation in the Krebs Report that our research effort into bovine tuberculosis should be refocused along two main approaches: understanding the causes of outbreaks and developing improved strategies to reduce the number of outbreaks. The Ministry's research programmes generally operate on a rolling three-year cycle, so for most of the programmes the document covers only approximately one-third of the total research effort. For bovine tuberculosis, however, the whole programme has been reviewed in the light of the recommendations in the Krebs Report. The new TB programme picks up the individual recommendations the report makes for research and lays the foundation for developing soundly based control strategies in the future, including in the longer term the development of a cattle vaccine.

The document also makes a significant movement in the direction of allocating research contracts by open competition, which will help to ensure that work is undertaken by those best qualified to do it. This also responds to another of the Krebs recommendations and must be right if we are to achieve value for money in this area.

Agriculture Council, 20 and 21 April

Lord Hughes of Woodside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the Agriculture Council held in Luxembourg on 20 to 21 April.[HL1592]

Lord Donoughue: My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food chaired the fifth meeting under the United Kingdom Presidency of the European Union Council of Agriculture Ministers on 20 and 21 April in Luxembourg. I represented the United Kingdom.

The principal items for discussion at the Council were Commission proposals on amendments to the EU banana, tobacco and olive oil market regimes; and its proposals in respect of common agricultural policy (CAP) prices for the 1998-99 marketing year. The Council marked an important step forward in the negotiations on all of these. On bananas, my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was able to conclude that the Council would work towards an agreement in June on the basis of the Commission's proposal for changes to the EU banana regime to bring it into line with the ruling of the WTO appellate body. He was also able to conclude, in relation

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to both tobacco and olive oil, that intensive work would continue at expert level in the light of the guidance given by the Council, with the aim of reaching early conclusions on these proposals if possible. The Council also recognised the importance of concluding the CAP price-fixing negotiation under the UK Presidency in June, and he undertook as Council chairman to work to achieve that outcome.

The Council adopted by qualified majority (Germany opposing) a proposal from the Commission extending until 31 December 1998 temporary rules on agri-monetary compensation and the freezing of green rates, but with tighter rules to reduce the risk of over-compensation.

At the request of the Dutch Agriculture Minister, my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food held a debate on a Dutch memorandum on the use of marker vaccines in combatting classical swine fever. A number of delegations expressed support for Dutch proposals, while others expressed some reservations. All were mindful of the need to examine this issue against the background of what would be acceptable to the EU's international trading partners. He concluded that the Commission should continue its scientific work on this issue as a matter of urgency.

The Council held a short discussion, at the request of the French Minister, on proposed EU free trade agreements with Chile and the Mercosur countries. My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food undertook as chairman of the Agriculture Council to report the views of agriculture Ministers to the General Affairs Council where these agreements are being negotiated.

Car Part Imports: Safety-critical Standards

Lord Strathcarron asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they propose to set standards for imported car parts where these are safety-critical, as happens in other western European countries.[HL1566]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): In common with other European Union member states, the UK already sets standards for safety-critical car parts which apply equally to imports and those manufactured in this country.

Millennium Dome Site: Landfill Tax

Lord Peyton of Yeovil asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much landfill tax has been paid or is due in respect of soil extracted from the Millennium Dome site and deposited elsewhere.[HL1586]

Baroness Hayman: There is an exemption from landfill tax for wastes arising from the reclamation of contaminated land.

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Jubilee Line Extension: Westminster Station

Lord Allen of Abbeydale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether trains will stop at Westminster station when the Jubilee Line extension comes into operation next year.[HL1564]

Baroness Hayman: LT had planned a phased opening of the Jubilee Line extension, which would probably have involved opening initially without Westminster station. However, LT now proposes instead to open the entire line (i.e. the existing Jubilee Line together with the whole of the extension) at the same time for full through services in spring 1999. We are pleased to confirm that this will of course include Westminster station.

Smoking-related Illnesses

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list those illnesses associated with or caused by (a) smoking and (b) passive smoking.[HL1524]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): Diseases associated with or caused by smoking are as follows: cancer of lung; lip, tongue, mouth, pharynx, larynx; stomach; oesophagus; liver; pancreas; bladder; kidney; cervix uteri; and arteriosclerosis, hypertension, cerebral thrombosis, other cerebrovascular disease, peptic ulcer, osteoporosis, hernia, myocardial degeneration, other respiratory disease, aortic aneurysm, respiratory heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, chronic obstructive lung disease, pneumonia, respiratory tuberculosis, and ischaemic heart disease.

In its recent report 1 , the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health largely confirmed the above list and additionally noted an association of smoking with cataracts, periodontal disease and, in pregnancy, miscarriage, low birthweight and perinatal death.

As regards passive smoking, the committee concluded that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke was a cause of lung cancer; ischaemic heart disease; respiratory illness and asthmatic attacks in children; sudden infant death syndrome; and middle ear disease in children.

1 Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health: Report: London: HMSO 1998.

Abortion Act Criteria

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have on the number of women refused an abortion because their particular circumstances do not fit the criteria of the Abortion Act 1967 (as amended).[HL1569]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: We do not collect this information.

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