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Diazinon Products: Sale Abroad

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): The decision to cease to market certain products containing diazinon in the UK does not, in itself, prevent companies from selling such products in another country. The product would, of course, have to comply with the other country's own legislation.

The fact that a company chose to cease to support the approval of a pesticide in the UK would not affect the support it could expect from British Trade International, including British posts overseas, in seeking legitimately to sell that product abroad.

Meat Hygiene Service

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: Official Veterinary Surgeons employed or contracted by the Meat Hygiene Service, should be able to determine the species of animal from which a carcase was derived from an examination of the carcase.

There is therefore no need for slaughterhouse operators to affix labels to freshly killed animals, stating their species.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: Yes. The Government believe that the MHS, with its primary responsibility being one of food safety and the protection of public health, should report to the Food Standards Agency, while maintaining its identity as a discrete executive agency. Within this framework, the Government do intend to separate the audit function in relation to the MHS from its day-to-day operation.

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The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many times since the commencement of the duties of the Meat Hygiene Service on 1 April 1995 has the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food prosecuted owners or staff in (a) licensed red meat slaughterhouses; (b) licensed poultry meat processing plants; and (c) licensed meat cutting plants; and, in each case, how many of these prosecutions have been successful.[HL2805]

Lord Donoughue: Since the commencement of the duties of the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) on 1 April 1995, the number of prosecutions taken by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food against plant owners or their staff for failure to comply with legislation enforced by the MHS, together with the number that resulted in conviction, is as follows:

Number of prosecutionsNumber resulting in conviction
(a) Licensed red meat slaughterhouses5147
(b) Licensed poultry meat processing plants1211
(c) Licensed meat cutting plants55

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider publishing details of unsuccessful prosecutions of slaughterhouse licence holders under the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations and other legislation in the Meat Hygiene Service Enforcement Bulletin and in press releases, giving them equal prominence with intended and successful prosecutions.[HL2828]

Lord Donoughue: Details of all relevant unsuccessful prosecutions taken by enforcement authorities are already published in the monthly BSE Enforcement Bulletin and Meat Hygiene Enforcement Report, along with intended and successful cases. It is not the Ministry's normal practice to issue press releases about prosecutions, whatever the outcome.

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action is taken by staff of the Joint Food Standards and Safety Group carrying out audits of Meat Hygiene Service performance to determine whether Meat Hygiene Service staff employed in enforcement duties in meat plants specifically distinguish between works or actions which are statutory requirements and those which are recommended when requiring or recommending works or actions by meat plant owners or staff.[HL2933]

Lord Donoughue: The purpose of the annual audit of the Meat Hygiene Service by the Joint Food Safety and Standards Group is to assess whether the operations,

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practices and activities of the Meat Hygiene Service at supervised abattoirs, cutting plants and coldstores comply with the specified codes of practice and requirements in the MHS Operations Manual. The manual embraces the requirements of the relevant legislation, and of national guidance on hygiene standards.

If, during an audit, the Meat Hygiene Service were to be found to have required works or actions to be carried out that went beyond its statutory powers, a non-compliance would be recorded in the audit report.

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What disciplinary or other action is taken by staff of the Joint Food Standards and Safety Group carrying out audits of Meat Hygiene Service performance when they discover that Meat Hygiene Service staff employed in enforcement duties in meat or cutting plants have failed to distinguish between works or actions which are statutory requirements and those which are recommendations when requiring or recommending works or actions by meat plant owners or staff.[HL2934]

Lord Donoughue: The audit staff of the Joint Food Safety and Standards Group do not take disciplinary action against the staff of the Meat Hygiene Service. Following an audit, any non-compliances recorded are reported to the Meat Hygiene Service management for action as appropriate.

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In how many instances during audit of Meat Hygiene Service performance breaches of any of the requirements set out in the Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1995 by Official Veterinary Surgeons or Meat Hygiene Inspectors have been reported.[HL2935]

Lord Donoughue: The results of the Joint Food Safety and Standards Group audit of the Meat Hygiene Service are published annually and placed in the Library of the House. The report covering the period April 1997 to March 1998 was published in November 1998.

Pigs Imported from China

Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many pigs were imported from China in the late 1980s with the intention of transferring genes into British pigs to achieve larger litter sizes; how many of these pigs, or their offspring, are still in Britain; and what progress has been made in successful genetic transfer.[HL2821]

Lord Donoughue: In 1987, 32 Meishan pigs were imported from China for research purposes. The aim of the research was to investigate whether these pigs might

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successfully be bred with British breeds in order to increase litter sizes. This was to be done by conventional sexual reproduction, and not by means of any artificial gene transfer technology.

We do not have information on how many of these pigs or their offspring remain in Britain. We are not aware of the progress of the breeding programmes in which the pigs were used.

Building Maintenance and Repairs: VAT

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they justify the Chancellor's refusal to accept the European Union's offer of a reduction of VAT on building maintenance and repairs to 5 per cent.[HL3057]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The recent European Commission proposal which provides for the possibility of a reduced rate of VAT for certain labour-intensive services on an experimental basis is still under discussion. Member states have been asked to draw up a list of the services to which the measure might apply and it is not yet clear whether building maintenance and repair services will be included.

European Community Budget: UK contribution

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the cumulative net contribution (gross contributions less gross receipts less the Fontainebleau abatement from 1985 onwards) of the United Kingdom to the European Union budget for the years 1973 to 1998 inclusive.[HL3002]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The United Kingdom's total net contribution to the European Community budget for the period 1973-74 to 1997-98 was £31,286 million. The Government published their estimate of the UK's net contribution to the EC Budget in 1998-99 in Table 7A of the 1999 Departmental Report of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Departments (Cm 4218).

Scottish Parliament Building

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is now the total estimated cost of procuring the site, preparing it, and constructing the proposed Scottish Parliament buildings at Holyrood; and what was the original estimate; and[HL2808]

    When the proposed buildings for the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood are now expected to be completed and ready for occupation.[HL2809]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): Legal and financial responsibility for the new Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood transferred from Scottish Office Ministers to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body on 1 June 1999. The noble Lord can obtain information on the Holyrood Project from the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament at the following address:


    The Presiding Officer


    The Scottish Parliament


    Parliament Headquarters


    Edinburgh


    EH99 1SP


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