|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: 1,053 British citizens did not satisfy the habitual residence test when claiming income support in the three months from 1 August. Figures for housing benefit and council tax benefit refusals are not available. I am informed by the President of the Independent Tribunal Service that the information about appeals from British citizens is not collected centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. The Government do not keep records of the reasons for British citizens leaving the UK.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Like other Social Fund payments, funeral payments are not subject to the annual uprating of income-related benefits. However, we keep the level of all Social Fund payments under review.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): The Government encourage better horticultural marketing through the Marketing Development Scheme and the Processing and Marketing Grant, which are administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, but do not promote one particular type of marketing organisation rather than another.
The Council's major achievement was agreement on ground rules for implementing the GATT Uruguay Round agreement on agriculture. This package, including the Framework Agreement on bananas, will now pass to the Foreign Affairs Council on 19/20 December for formal adoption along with all other GATT implementation texts. This is a very important agreement for Britain in itself. In addition, I am glad to report that my right honourable friend achieved a range of measures designed to meet specific British interests, notably in relation to cereals, bananas, and commitments
The Council also discussed a Commission proposal to revise the agrimonetary regime. In the absence of an opinion from the European Parliament, no formal decision could be taken. But it was established that a qualified majority of the Council existed in favour of a Presidency compromise proposal which the Commission was prepared to support. My right honourable friend voted against this revised proposal because, although it abolished the potentially expensive and inflationary switchover mechanism which my right honourable friend strongly welcomed, it also introduced unduly complex and potentially costly replacement arrangements to protect farmers in strong-currency countries against currency-induced falls in incomes. Denmark also voted against. The Commission tabled a proposal to prolong the present regime until 31 January 1995 pending a European Parliament opinion on the substantive proposal.
The Council held a further discussion of the Commission's proposal on the welfare of animals in transit, but was unable to reach agreement. My right honourable friend will continue to press for strong and effective Community measures. But meanwhile my right honourable friend is introducing improved national measures to help fill the gap resulting from the absence of agreement by the Council.
My right honourable friend voted against a Council Decision to continue the moratorium on Bovine Somatotropin until 31 December 1999 as this was without scientific justification. The Decision was however adopted by qualified majority.
The Agriculture Commissioner, René Steichen, tabled a report supporting the case, for which the UK has long argued, for allowing land entered into environmental set-aside or woodland to be counted, under certain conditions, against the farmer's compulsory market set-aside requirement. The Council committed itself to taking an early decision on this matter.
The Council adopted unanimously proposals providing for continuation of New Zealand butter access to the United Kingdom and for continuation of sheepmeat imports from various third countries under existing Voluntary Restraint Agreements. In both cases, these regulations apply until 30 June 1995, when they
Directives amending the Fresh Meat Hygiene Directive and Milk Hygiene Directive were agreed by qualified majority. On meat hygiene, my right honourable friend abstained, whilst the Dutch and Portuguese delegations opposed. The outcome on milk hygiene was generally highly satisfactory; however, my right honourable friend abstained because there were no provisions to permit the continued double pasteurisation of skimmed milk.
Finally, I am particularly delighted to report that the Council agreed unanimously a new Directive on Minced Meat and Meat Preparations which protects traditional British products, including the British sausage.
Earl Howe: From figures received up to 19 December, only eight of 1,348 market visits conducted since 1 September 1994 have resulted in sheep scab being detected. Of the 181 animals discovered with sheep scab, 78 sheep were withdrawn from sale and treated and 103 were sent for slaughter, as planned.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Viscount Astor): This is a matter for the BBC, taking account of its obligation to treat controversial subjects with due impartiality.
|Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|