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British Sugar Corporation

Volume 958: debated on Thursday 16 November 1978

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will publish in the Official Report the shareholding in the British Sugar Corporation of Her Majesty's Government.

The Government have at present 14½ million 50p shares in the British Sugar Corporation Ltd. These represent 24·18 per cent. of the issued share capital.

Date of acquisitionnumber of sharesPercentage of issued capital
1936750,000 (£1)15
19643,625,000 (£1)36·25*
19773,625,000 (£1)24·18†
197814,500,000 (50p)24·18‡
* Includes 2,500,000 shares (25 %) held by the Sugar Board—a statutory body—between 1964 and 1977.
† Share restructuring—rights issue.
‡ Restructuring involving a scrip issue and a halving of the nominal value of the shares.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the contamination of sugar by rat poison at the British Sugar Corporation's plant at York.

I am informed by the British Sugar Corporation that on 7th November traces of grain treated with the anti-coagulent difenacoum and used as mouse bait were found in sugar packeting equipment at the York factory. In the opinion of the corporation, strict precautions at the factory made it impossible for this to have happened accidentally. Packeting was halted, equipment cleaned, and action taken to recover any sugar which might have been contaminated. As a result of this swift action almost all of the sugar which might have been exposed to any risk has been accounted for. Security at the factory has been tightened.Difenacoum is widely used in the food industry as a rodenticide and has been cleared under the pesticide safety precautions scheme. The amount of it involved in this incident was, I understand, 0·5 milligrammes; this quantity would be harmless in human food.