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The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): My right honourable friend chaired a meeting of the European Union Agriculture Council in Luxembourg on 22 to 26 June. I represented the United Kingdom.
This four-day Council took decisions on a large package of important legislative measures concerning the Common Agricultural Policy and animal welfare. The package included agreement on changes to the bananas regime to bring it into conformity with World Trade Organisation rules while ensuring continued access to the EU market for Caribbean ACP bananas; significant reform of the olive oil regime, abolishing public intervention and the consumer and small producer aids which have been particularly susceptible to fraud; and measures setting common welfare standards for the rearing of farm animals throughout Europe. This measure is an important further step to improve animal welfare following the agreement to phase out fishing for tuna and swordfish with drift nets which we secured at the Fisheries Council earlier this month.
The package also included adoption of the 1998-99 CAP price proposals and the 1999-2000 compulsory set-aside rate, giving farmers certainty for the coming marketing year, as well as limited reforms to the tobacco regime to encourage producers to become more market-oriented and less dependent on subsidy.
The package was agreed by a qualified majority of member states, as were each of the individual elements. The Netherlands voted against all elements, Denmark against the bananas and set-aside proposals and France against the set-aside proposal. The Council also adopted by qualified majority, with Greece voting against, a proposal changing the rules for payments of aids to cotton producers.
The Government are very pleased that the United Kingdom presidency was able to broker a satisfactory deal on this complex package of measures. Coming on top of the conclusions on CAP reform which were unanimously agreed by the Agriculture Council at its May meeting, and subsequently endorsed by the European Council meeting in Cardiff, it concludes the substantial programme of work which we set out at the outset of our presidency.
Lord Donoughue: In order better to understand the relative importance of badgers and other factors contributing to TB incidents in herds, Professor Krebs recommended that high priority should be given to a multivariate analysis of risk factors. Research proposals to assess correlates of risk, to be financed from April next year, were invited in the Ministry's research requirements document published on 20 April, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House.
However, in view of the importance which both Professor Krebs' group and the Ministry attach to research in this area, we are also inviting proposals for a retrospective analysis of data collected during previous investigations. This will start this autumn, in advance of the main research programme. Notices calling for proposals will appear in the relevant scientific journals shortly.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The working party of the Royal College of Physicians of London and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which is expected to report in a few weeks, has been asked to make recommendations on how clinical studies on those who attribute illness to organophosphate (OP) sheep dips might be carried out. Their report will be considered by the Official Group on OPs. We shall then be able to decide what work would be appropriate to be commissioned in this area.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Institute for Environment and Health report has already been published and it would not now be accepted for publication as it stands. However, an abridged version of the review will appear in a forthcoming issue of Archives in Toxicology following a presentation at the International Congress on Toxicology to be held in Paris on 5-9 July 1998.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The appointment of members to the Working Group on Organophosphates of the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment have only recently been made. The members are listed as follows; the list of members' interests has not been finalised yet and will be published in due course.
|Professor H. F. Woods (Chairman)||Department of Medicine, Royal Hallamshire Hospital|
|Professor Peter G. Blain||University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, The Medical School|
|Mrs. Judy Brander||Independent lay person|
|Professor David N. M. Coggon||Medical Research Centre, University of Southampton|
|Professor Sarah Darby||ICRF Cancer Epidemiology Unit, The Radcliffe Infirmary|
|Professor Anthony Dayan||St. Bartholomew's and The Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London|
|Mrs. Rosemary Edwards||Independent lay person|
|Professor Richard Hughes||Guy's Hospital|
|Dr. Michael Joffe||St. Mary's Hospital Medical School|
|Dr. Nicolas Murray||National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery|
|Professor Andrew G. Renwick||University of Southampton|
|Professor Michael Rugg||St. Andrew's University|
|Dr. Allister J. Vale||West Midlands Poisons Unit, Birmingham|
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