Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 413: debated on Tuesday 21 October 1980

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Written Answers

Departmental And Local Authority Vacant Housing

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many empty houses are owned by area health authorities, the Home Office, Ministry of Defence, county councils and water authorities in England and Wales.

The Home Office owns dwellings used by prison staff and their families; approximately 1,700 of these houses were vacant at the end of July 1980. The Ministry of Defence owns all Service married quarters and civilian staff houses and 22,700 of these were vacant in July 1980. These figures include dwellings vacant by reason of repair, renovation or awaiting occupancy or sale.I would invite the noble Baroness to get in touch with the area health and water authorities and county councils for the numbers of vacant properties in their ownership.

United Kingdom Export Statistics

asked Her Majesty's Government:Which 10 countries received the highest amount of United Kingdom exports last year, and in 1972; and what were the figures in each case.

The information is as follows:

Exports£ million f.o.b.
Federal Republic of Germany609
Irish Republic471
Federal Republic of Germany4,235
Irish Republic2,554
(Source: Overseas Trade Statistics, SITC/R2).

Lomé Convention: Ratification Of Accession Of Zimbabwe

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether representatives of the EEC and Zimbabwe have agreed on the terms of the latter's accession to the Lomé Convention; how far they affect the export of sugar and tobacco; and whether and when Her Majesty's Government will ask Parliament to ratify the agreement.

Final agreement on the terms of Zimbabwe's accession to the Lomé Convention was reached on 8th October. Zimbabwe will be able to export tobacco freely to the Community, subject to the safeguard provisions in the Convention. From 1st July 1982 at the latest Zimbabwe will be able to sell 25,000 tonnes of sugar annually to the Community. Once the accession agreement is signed Her Majesty's Government will set the normal ratification procedures in motion.

Un Conference On Conventional Arms

asked Her Majesty's Government:What decisions were reached at the United Nations Conference at Geneva on the banning or restriction of the use of conventional arms judged to be excessively injurious and whether it is their intention to ask Parliament to ratify the decisions at art early date.

The Conference concluded on 10th October having approved the text of a general convention together with three protocols to prohibit or restrict the use of mines and booby-traps, incendiary weapons, and weapons causing injury by fragments not detectable by X-ray. The first of these protocols is based closely on a British draft tabled at an earlier stage of the conference. The Government welcome the agreement which represents a useful strengthening of humanitarian law in armed conflict. The convention will open for signature in April 1981 and Parliament will be informed in the normal way prior to ratification.

Belize: Independence Negotiations

asked Her Majesty's Government:What conclusions were reached in the negotiations in New York with repre- sentatives of Guatemala on the future of Belize; and what action they now propose to take to provide for the independence of Belize.

The talks with representatives of the Guatemalan Government, at which Belizean Ministers were present, were cordial and constructive. As expected, no final agreement was reached and a further meeting is to be held before long. The Government are now considering how best to take the negotiations forward and to achieve their aim of bringing Belize to early and secure independence with full territorial integrity.

Deer: Removal Of Antlers In Velvet

asked Her Majesty's Government:In view of the advice of the Farm Animal Welfare Council that the harvesting of velvet from live deer should be prohibited, whether they will indicate in what circumstances such harvesting, in the case of any deer in the United Kingdom, is not totally prohibited by the four statutory orders which came into effect during 1980.

These orders prohibit in all circumstances the removal of antlers while in velvet from live farmed deer in Great Britain. Exceptions are made to permit the removal of antlers while in velvet by a veterinary surgeon on veterinary grounds, when an anaesthetic must be used, or where authorised for scientific purposes. An exception is also made for emergency situations where, to save the deer's life or relieve its pain, anyone may remove antlers while in velvet, if necessary without an anaesthetic.

The orders do not prohibit the removal of antlers in velvet from wild deer in Great Britain, although the effect of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Schedule 3 Amendment) Order 1980 is to complete the prohibition on their removal from wild or other deer except by a registered veterinary surgeon, unless in an emergency or where authorised for scientific purposes. Whether the orders prohibit the harvesting of antlers in velvet from deer kept in ornamental parks will depend primarily on whether the deer in those parks fall within the definition of livestock as defined in the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968, as amended by the Welfare of Livestock (Deer) Order 1980. It would be for a court to decide on the application of the definition in individual cases.

Deer in Northern Ireland are affected by only one of these orders, that which requires the removal of the antlers of a live deer while they are in velvet to be carried out only by a veterinary surgeon on veterinary grounds.

The Zuckerman Report On Badgers

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have received the Zuckerman report on the slaughter of badgers and, if so, when it will be published.

Lord Zuckerman's report, Badgers, Cattle and Tuberculosis, has been received and is being studied. The report will be published, probably within the next three weeks.House adjourned at twenty minutes before nine o'clock.