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To give satisfaction to its customers in the way that outputs are provided taking account of the relevance, timeliness and value for money of outputs and the achievement of ROAME milestones. Quality of Service
Lord Donoughue: The Government compile annual reports on all such incidents and the Government's response to them. These reports are available to enquirers, free of charge. The latest report by MAFF's Food Safety Incident Response Team, entitled Food Protection 1997, has been placed in the Library of the House. It contains details of 230 incidents dealt with in 1997.
Lord Donoughue: Setting farm animal welfare standards is not one of the WTO's responsibilities. It would not therefore be fruitful to propose the setting-up of an equivalent of the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) to advise the WTO. The setting up of FAWC equivalents is an approach that we regularly commend to those of the other EU member states that have not already done this.
Lord Donoughue: There is no agreement within the EU to raise this issue at the WTO Ministerial in May. The purpose of the May Ministerial is to adopt a general declaration paying tribute to the achievements of the multilateral trading system over the last 50 years and, in relation to preparing future WTO negotiations, to do no more than set the procedures in train.
Lord Donoughue: The Government, under their Presidency of the Council of Ministers, have opened up a discussion aimed at formulating an EU strategy on promoting higher global standards of farm animal welfare standards, including in relation to products of animal origin (for example eggs) being imported into the Union. We are pleased to have launched what we consider to be an important and overdue initiative at the EU level.
Lord Donoughue: The Government are committed to informing the public about all food safety matters. Following the changes announced last year, and the new arrangements announced for veterinary drug surveys, we have now agreed to further improvements in the reporting of surveillance results for pesticide residues surveys. To continue to improve openness and information to consumers, the brand names of products tested in future pesticide residue surveillance exercises will, subject to some minor exceptions, be published on a regular basis.
The publication of brand names will require some restructuring of the pesticides surveillance programme to ensure that surveys are representative of particular produce on the market. The new arrangements will, therefore, apply for surveys conducted from 1998 onwards. As with the other programmes there will be certain minor exceptions, such as surveys whose sample are pooled, where publicising brand information would be inappropriate.
Planned surveys for residues of pesticides will continue to be announced in advance, as has been practice for some years. However, the sheer scale of this programme precludes releasing the brands to be sampled in advance.
We are committed to giving consumers the maximum possible information on the presence of pesticide residues in food and will ensure that this is provided with appropriate advice on the public health significance of any results. Of course, we will make every effort to ensure the fairness of any tests and not seek to select one manufacturer or source over another. We believe the new arrangements will allow consumers to make a more informed choice about the food that they buy.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): We are making appropriate arrangements to appoint an independent body to monitor and evaluate the trial.
Baroness Hayman: Throughout the negotiations of the Biocidal Products Directive, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who led negotiations for the United Kingdom, sought to ensure that the cost provisions of the directive were proportionate to risk. The UK was successful in introducing simplified procedures for dealing with low risk products and for handling "frame formulation"--i.e. specifications for groups of similar products. These will help to reduce costs.
The UK was also successful in ensuring that an "escape" clause was written into the directive to minimise the data requirements. This provides that information not necessary owing to the nature of a particular biocidal product or its proposed uses need not be supplied, but without compromising the risk assessment that ensures a high level of protection for humans and the environment. This will further help to reduce costs.
The Finnish authorities are currently producing guidance, under contract to the European Commission, on the application of the data requirements. The HSE is seeking to ensure that the guidance takes full account of the flexibility which the directive provides so that costs are minimised.
HSE is encouraging industry to play its part by lobbying the European Commission and other member states. HSE has discussed with industry the possibility of their forming task forces to share data to help reduce costs. HSE continues to work closely with industry over implementation of the Biocidal Products Directive. All this action taken together will help to ensure costs are kept to a minimum.
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