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Eurostar: South-west Regional Services

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The consultants report on regional Eurostar services will be published shortly.

Elections: Free Postal Deliveries

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): There are no free postal deliveries for candidates for local government elections. I understand the elections to the Greater London Council were classified as local government elections. Prior to 1973 the election of councillors to the GLC was based on multi-member electoral areas, the largest of which was Croydon in 1970, with an electorate of some 240,000 electing four candidates.

16 Feb 2000 : Column WA156

Sheep Scab Control

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answers by Earl Howe on 18 January 1995 (WA 42) and Lord Lucas on 8 February 1996 (WA 577), what progress is being made with the three research and development projects being funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food into alternative treatments for sheep scab, including immunological and non-chemical control, and what has been the cost of these projects to date.[HL966]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): The Government have funded work since 1996 to explore non-chemical methods as alternative approaches to sheep scab control. This programme is based on findings from earlier published work funded by MAFF at the Royal Veterinary College. The earlier results showed evidence for an immune response in the blood of sheep affected with sheep scab mites. To determine the significance of this finding and to investigate the various biological process involved, funding was provided for a four-year collaborative research programme at £350,000 to £400,000 per annum. The results of these studies in 1999 show that the approach to the immunological control of sheep scab is complex and requires an understanding of a number of key elements if a vaccine is to be developed. A new three-year programme with funding continuing at £350,000 to £400,000 per annum has been approved which will focus on these key elements.

The overall sheep scab research programme since 1996 has included studies on the factors influencing the spread of sheep scab, factors associated with infestation and those involved in the development of clincial disease. A report on the studies dated August 1999 is available from MAFF Chief Scientist's Group. This work has also shown that there may be some potential for the control of sheep scab by the use of a natural fungus that infects the mites. Further work to investigate the potential of this approach is built into the new three-year programme.

The total funding spent on sheep scab research by my department in recent years is as follows:

Financial Year£

Organophospate Sheep Dips: Endotoxins

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any studies were conducted by the Health and Safety Directorate into the effects of

16 Feb 2000 : Column WA157

    bacteriological contamination and of combination with disinfectants in organophospate sheep dips between 1989 and 1993; and, if so, what were the results of these studies.[HL967]

Baroness Hayman: The Health and Safety Executive sponsored a study by the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) in 1993 which considered levels of endotoxins in dipping baths before and after dipping and airborne concentrations of endotoxin to which workers dipping sheep were exposed. This was a pilot study to identify whether further research was needed. The results indicated that there was potential for worker exposure to endotoxin during sheep dipping but the airborne concentrations were lower than those reported in other industries such as wool processing. The report has been publised by the IOM.

Sheep: Withholding Period between Dipping and Shearing

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is now a requirement of the British Wool Marketing Board that sheep owners who send fleeces to British Wool Marketing Board depots must guarantee that their sheep have not been dipped in organophosphate sheep dips within six months of shearing.[HL970]

Baroness Hayman: We understand that the British Wool Marketing Board is supporting recommendations made by the Environment Agency in asking wool producers to observe a three-month withholding period between dipping and shearing in respect of the wool clip for the year 2000. The adequacy of the three-month withholding period will be reviewed during the course of the 2000 marketing year.

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Organophosphate Sheep Dips

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Hayman on 1 February (WA 22), whether the evaluations of the purity of the active ingredients and solvents in organophosphate sheep dips conducted by the Veterinary Products Committee were based on peer-reviewed and published scientific evidence; if so, in which publications the results were published; and, if not, what was the source of the scientific evidence upon which the Veterinary Products Committee made its findings.[HL1003]

Baroness Hayman: No. Evaluations of the purity of the ingredients of veterinary medicinal products are based on information provided by applicants for marketing authorisations.

Old Palace Yard Refurbishment

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Further to his Written Answer on 2 February (WA 45), whether in the light of their expressed support he will approach the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Royal Parks Agency and the Traffic Director for London for a financial contribution to the £2.44 million Old Palace Yard refurbishment project.[HL972]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): No. The House has already considered this matter and decided how it wishes to proceed.

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