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Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science: Performance Targets

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: The Government have set the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science the following performance targets for 1998-99: Efficiency

To achieve the savings forecast in the Efficiency Plan. Delivery of Service

To give satisfaction to its customers in the way that outputs are provided taking account of the relevance, timeliness and value for money of outputs and the achievement of ROAME milestones. Quality of Service

To maintain a high standard of excellence, based on indicators of scientific and technical quality. Financial Performance

To recover from government departments and agencies and external customers the full economic costs (calculated according to accruals accounting) of its services.

To operate within the net cash allocation as agreed by the MAFF Management Board.

Central Science Laboratory:Performance Targets

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: The Government have set the Central Science Laboratory the following performance targets for 1998-99: Efficiency

1 per cent. improvement in utilisation of productive time.

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Delivery of Science

At least 90 per cent. of work completed to time and within budget;

Achieve a mean score of 3.5 on a scale of 0 to 5 for the assessment of customer satisfaction using the established methodology;

Proportion of project milestones achieved to be at or greater than 82 per cent. (MAFF commissioned projects). Financial

100 per cent. recovery of full costs after allowing for relocation costs;

To operate within the net cost allocation as agreed by the MAFF Management Board.

Food Safety Incidents: Report

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they compile on chemical or nuclear contamination incidents where there were potential food safety implications and whether this information is available to the public.[HL1693]

Lord Donoughue: The Government compile annual reports on all such incidents and the Government's response to them. These reports are available to enquirers, free of charge. The latest report by MAFF's Food Safety Incident Response Team, entitled Food Protection 1997, has been placed in the Library of the House. It contains details of 230 incidents dealt with in 1997.

World Trade Organisation and Farm Animal Welfare

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by the Lord Donoughue on 9 April (H.L. Deb., col. 850), whether they have been successful in putting on the agenda of the WTO Ministerial Conference in May the issue of establishment of European Union and WTO equivalents of the Farm Animal Welfare Council.[HL1532]

Lord Donoughue: Setting farm animal welfare standards is not one of the WTO's responsibilities. It would not therefore be fruitful to propose the setting-up of an equivalent of the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) to advise the WTO. The setting up of FAWC equivalents is an approach that we regularly commend to those of the other EU member states that have not already done this.

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Baroness Anelay of St. Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the position of the European Union with regard to animal welfare which is to be put forward at the WTO Ministerial Conference in May.[HL1531]

Lord Donoughue: There is no agreement within the EU to raise this issue at the WTO Ministerial in May. The purpose of the May Ministerial is to adopt a general declaration paying tribute to the achievements of the multilateral trading system over the last 50 years and, in relation to preparing future WTO negotiations, to do no more than set the procedures in train.

Farm Animal Welfare

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to implement the recommendation in the 1997 Farm Animal Welfare Council report that they should not allow GATT WTO arrangements to prevent the banning of imports of shell eggs and egg products into the European Union from those countries in which conventional battery cages are still used.[HL1530]

Lord Donoughue: The Government, under their Presidency of the Council of Ministers, have opened up a discussion aimed at formulating an EU strategy on promoting higher global standards of farm animal welfare standards, including in relation to products of animal origin (for example eggs) being imported into the Union. We are pleased to have launched what we consider to be an important and overdue initiative at the EU level.

Pesticide Residues in Food

Baroness Turner of Camden asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the review of the arrangements for reporting surveys on pesticide residues in food has been completed.[HL1635]

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

The UK has in place a pesticide residues surveillance programme to fulfil its Community obligations to monitor pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables,

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cereals and products of animal origin. This programme is undertaken each year under the auspices of the Working Party on Pesticide Residues. The results are published in the Working Party's annual report, although any results of public interest are published earlier together with any necessary advice to consumers.

The publication of brand names will require some restructuring of the pesticides surveillance programme to ensure that surveys are representative of particular produce on the market. The new arrangements will, therefore, apply for surveys conducted from 1998 onwards. As with the other programmes there will be certain minor exceptions, such as surveys whose sample are pooled, where publicising brand information would be inappropriate.

Planned surveys for residues of pesticides will continue to be announced in advance, as has been practice for some years. However, the sheer scale of this programme precludes releasing the brands to be sampled in advance.

We are committed to giving consumers the maximum possible information on the presence of pesticide residues in food and will ensure that this is provided with appropriate advice on the public health significance of any results. Of course, we will make every effort to ensure the fairness of any tests and not seek to select one manufacturer or source over another. We believe the new arrangements will allow consumers to make a more informed choice about the food that they buy.

Military Assistance to Foreign Governments

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the review which they conducted concerning the dissemination of information with regard to military assistance provided to other nations.[HL1660]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave to my noble friend Lord Gladwyn of Clee on 27 February 1998 (H.L. Deb., cols. WA 123-24).

Roadside Emission Testing

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Hayman on 16 March (WA 114), what arrangements they are making to monitor and evaluate the trial of the local authority emission-checking scheme.[HL1636]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): We are making appropriate arrangements to appoint an independent body to monitor and evaluate the trial.

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Biocidal Products Directive

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have sought the modification of the data requirements of the draft Biocidal Products Directive; with what result; and whether any modification which has been made will reduce the registration costs which would arise as a result of the implementation of the directive.[HL1608]

Baroness Hayman: Throughout the negotiations of the Biocidal Products Directive, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who led negotiations for the United Kingdom, sought to ensure that the cost provisions of the directive were proportionate to risk. The UK was successful in introducing simplified procedures for dealing with low risk products and for handling "frame formulation"--i.e. specifications for groups of similar products. These will help to reduce costs.

The UK was also successful in ensuring that an "escape" clause was written into the directive to minimise the data requirements. This provides that information not necessary owing to the nature of a particular biocidal product or its proposed uses need not be supplied, but without compromising the risk assessment that ensures a high level of protection for humans and the environment. This will further help to reduce costs.

The Finnish authorities are currently producing guidance, under contract to the European Commission, on the application of the data requirements. The HSE is seeking to ensure that the guidance takes full account of the flexibility which the directive provides so that costs are minimised.

HSE is encouraging industry to play its part by lobbying the European Commission and other member states. HSE has discussed with industry the possibility of their forming task forces to share data to help reduce costs. HSE continues to work closely with industry over implementation of the Biocidal Products Directive. All this action taken together will help to ensure costs are kept to a minimum.

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