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The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): An evaluation of the performance of the Public Record Office during its first three years as an executive agency was carried out by the Public Record Office in conjunction with my department and a report was completed in June 1996.
The report concluded that the office had benefited considerably from its move to agency status which had led it to re-evaluate and to clarify its aims and objectives within its statutory role and to focus on improving its performance and on meeting the needs of its users. The office has made notable advances in planning and managing its work and resources and has achieved efficiency gains and service improvements in a period in which its workload was increasing and in which it also successfully undertook a major building programme at its Kew site.
Lord Lucas: All suspect BSE cases are subject to an epidemiological investigation at the time the animal is placed under movement restrictions. This includes taking details of all types of feed supplied. BSE cases born after the introduction of the animal feed ban in 1988 are subject to a more detailed examination of the feeding history of the animal.
None of these cats were born after the ban on including specified bovine offal in pet food. Veterinary surgeons notifying a case of feline spongiform encephalopathy are required to provide details of the animal's known medical treatments. The detail provided by the veterinary surgeon would normally include only those treatments prescribed by the veterinary surgeon. Flea collars which do not need to be prescribed by a veterinary surgeon would not therefore be included.
Lord Lucas: A number of apparent breaches of the Bovine Encephalopathy Order 1988 have been investigated but so far no prosecutions have resulted. A record of the number of such alleged breaches is not held centrally, as this legislation is enforced by local authorities.
Since a test for the presence of mammalian protein became available in February of this year, two apparent breaches have come to light. Both of these are probably due to accidental cross-contamination at the feed mill, and investigations are currently proceeding.
The measures introduced on 29th March to ban the incorporation of any meat and bone meal into feed for any farmed animal, and the forthcoming ban on the holding of any meat and bone meal or feed containing it, on farms, at feed merchants and at feed mills from 1st August, should remove the risk of such cross-contamination recurring. The State Veterinary Service will however continue to visit feed mills on a regular basis and take samples for analysis.
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EC logbooks are required to be completed by fishermen catching TAC species operating from vessels of 10 metres or more, but do not have to be provided for catches made by vessels between 10 and 17 metres whose fishing trips last less than 24 hours. The area of catch in Community waters is recorded in terms of ICES statistical rectangles. These are not conterminous with territorial waters or fishing limits.
Lord Lucas: The Commission has yet to submit to the Council the proposal required in 1996 concerning the arrangements for the premia and quotas for tobacco production from the 1988 harvest. The UK contributes to the EC budget as a whole and is forecast to contribute about 15 per cent. in 1996 before our Fontainebleau abatement is taken into account.
Lord Lucas: The Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) has revised its framework document with effect from 1st April 1996. The revised document, a copy of which will be placed in the Library of the House, reflects the changes and developments that have occurred since the directorate's launch as an agency three years ago. The changes will help the agency to build upon its record of success in the coming years.
Lord Lucas: Following the prior options review of the Central Science Laboratory, the Government have decided to seek the views of independent consultants. My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has approached potential consultants and expects to make an appointment shortly.
Lord Lucas: Following the prior options review the Government has decided that all of ADAS's R&D functions are suitable for privatisation. My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food announced on 28th June 1995 that most of ADAS's non R&D functions would be privatised (Hansard, 28th June 1995, col. 696). The ADAS Research Centres will therefore form part of the body to be transferred to the private sector.
My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is now appointing financial advisers to assist us in managing the sale of all the ADAS functions which do not need to be retained in the public sector. The timing of the sale will be decided in the light of their advice.
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