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Written Answers

Volume 571: debated on Wednesday 24 April 1996

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Written Answers

Wednesday, 24th April 1996.

Israel: Us Policy

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they support the United States of America's policy of funding and building up Israel as a regional nuclear super-power in the Middle East.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Chalker of Wallasey)

Relations between the United States and Israel are a matter for the two countries concerned.

Israel: Proposed Security Agreement With Us

asked Her Majesty's Government:What effect on NATO countries' relations with Middle Eastern countries they consider the proposed United States agreement with Israel will have, especially in view of Israel's wish to be provided under that agreement with advanced US Counter-proliferation systems and with "real-time" input from US surveillance and intelligence satellites and to prevent sales of spy satellites and satellite photographs to Arab countries.

Bilateral arrangements between NATO allies and other countries are a matter for the governments concerned.

Sharm El Sheikh Summit Follow-Up Meeting

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will support Egypt and other countries in requiring that Israel's actions as well as others' are fully examined at the Sharm El Sheikh follow-up meeting on terrorism later this month.

The meeting planned for 22nd April was cancelled. But the United Kingdom will continue to be closely involved in the work following up the Sharm El Sheikh summit.

London Transport: Financial Objectives

asked Her Majesty's Government:What financial objectives they have set for London Transport.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport
(Viscount Goschen)

We have written to Peter Ford, chairman of LT, to set new medium-term financial objectives for LT to achieve in 1998–99. These replace the objectives which came to an end on 31st March 1996. The package of new objectives sets challenging but achievable targets for the continued improvement in LT's financial performance and efficiency. The objectives are set out below.

All figures are at 1995/96 pricesObjective
Costs per train kilometre (1)Not more than £9.45
LUL gross margin (2)At least £285 million
Bus subsidy per kilometre (3)Not more than 6.0 pence
LT Buses gross loss (4)Not more than £20 million
Group services etc. (5) gross lossNot more than £21.5 million
Dial-a-Ride costs per tripNot more than £9.40
Property rental income growthTo be at least as good as the average shown by the IPD index (6) on three year rolling basis


1. Costs per operated train kilometre to exclude depreciation, renewals, restructuring and PFI costs.

2. LUL gross margin before depreciation, renewals, restructuring and PFI costs.

3. Net subsidy per operated bus kilometre before depreciation, renewals, restructuring and PFI costs.

4. LT Buses gross loss before depreciation, renewal, restructuring, and PFI costs.

5. LT Group Services, plus Victoria Coach Station, Unit for Disabled Passengers, PASS and LT Museum.

6. IPD is the Investment Property Databank index.

Medicine Names

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will take steps to reduce the confusion caused to patients by the variety of names given to the same drug.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health
(Baroness Cumberlege)

The "brand name" of a medicine is determined by the manufacturer and is considered for its suitability by the licensing authority before a product is put on the market. Where a "brand name" is used for a medicine, the "generic" or "common" name of the active ingredient must always be shown clearly on all labelling in addition.

Firearms Amnesty

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they can give further details of the forthcoming firearms amnesty.

My right honourable friend the Home Secretary and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland have today announced that a national firearms amnesty will start on 3 June and will run for the rest of that month. It will apply to England and Wales and to Scotland and will enable people to hand in to a police station illegally held weapons without fear of prosecution. It will not, however, give immunity against any offences committed using those weapons. The amnesty will also provide an opportunity for people to hand in unwanted but legally held weapons.Guidance has been issued to the police to ensure that all appropriate arrangements are made to facilitate the surrender of weapons during the period of the amnesty.Publicity material will be made available locally to provide people with information as to how they can hand in weapons.

Uk Regional Trade Balances

asked Her Majesty's Government:What were the United Kingdom's overall regional trade balances during the latest three years for which figures are available with (a) North and South America; (b) Africa; (c) Australasia and the Pacific; (d) Asia; and (e) the European Communities.

The information for the three years to 1994 is published by the Office for National Statistics in table G2A of the Geographical Analysis of the Current Account of the Balance of Payments, which appeared in the October 1995 issue of Economic Trends and is available in the Library of the House.

Agriculture Council, 1St To 3Rd April

asked Her Majesty's Government:What was the outcome of the Agriculture Council held in Luxembourg on.1st to 3rd April.

I refer my noble friend to the Statement given by my noble friend Lord Lindsay to the House on 3rd April 1996 (Official Report, cols. 356–360).

Beef Producers And Slaughterers: Support Measures

asked Her Majesty's Government:What financial support will be provided to UK beef producers and slaughterhouses in the current financial year.

I refer my noble friend to the statement that my noble friend Lord Lindsay repeated on 16th April 1996 (Official Report, col. 597).In addition to the support measures previously announced, particularly for the rendering industry and for the slaughter of young bull calves, the measures set out below have now been implemented. Parliamentary approval for additional provision and for the funding of new services will be sought in Supplementary Estimates for Class III Vote 1 (Intervention Board—Executive Agency: CAP market support and administration) and Class III Vote 2 (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; operational expenditure, agencies and departmental administration). Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £190 million will be met by repayable advances from the Contingencies Fund.1. Supplementary compensation payments on steers and heifers—i.e. older beef cattle whose market value is greater than cull cows.Cost: £80 million on Class III Vote 1. An advance from the Contingencies Fund of the full amount is required.2. Emergency aid to the slaughtering industry, comprising two elements:

  • (i) Immediate payment to slaughterhouses calculated on the basis of bovines slaughtered during 1995/96. Cost: £30 million on Class III Vote 2.
  • (ii) Purchase of unsaleable stocks of beef held by licensed slaughterhouses and cutting premises. Cost: £80 million on Class HI Vote 1.
  • An advance from the Contingencies Fund of the full amount (£110 million) is required.

    3. A scheme to purchase beasts over 30 months old and to dispose of their carcasses safely to prevent beef from these cattle from entering the human food chain.

    Cost: £550 million on Class III Vote 1, 70 per cent. of compensation payments to be funded by the EU.

    Pesticides Safety Directorate: Targets

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What targets have been set for the Pesticides Safety Directorate in 1996–97.

    My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has set the Pesticides Safety Directorate the following targets relating to financial performance, efficiency, the delivery of pesticides approval services and policy advice in 1996–97:

    • To achieve 100 per cent. recovery of costs;
    • To comply with budgetary controls resulting from the Public Expenditure Survey and the Supply Estimates;
    • To achieve an overall efficiency gain of 3 per cent.;
    To meet the targets for delivery of services as follows:

    Application stream notesApplications completedMaximum processing time (working weeks)
    Technical Secretariat1
    Administrative Fast4004
    Experimental Permit3036
    Off label20012

    Application stream notes

    Applications completed

    Maximum processing time (working weeks)

    New Substances


    Sift (EC and UK)1324
    Active Substance
    UK: National Rules854
    EC: UK Rapporteur154

    UK Reviews


    EC Reviews

    UK Rapporteur7
    (Monograph Co-ordination)15


    1 The processing time targets apply to 85 per cent. of applications received except the EC and UK sifts for New Substances, where the figure is 100 per cent.

    2 The quality of the directorate's scientific and policy work will be subject to separate quality audits.

    3 Details of performance in 1995–96 will be set out in the agency's annual report and accounts to be published during July 1996.

    Bse Compensation Payments

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What was the saving to public funds incurred by paying 50 per cent. compensation on BSE-infected cattle before 1990; and what has been the further saving incurred since the reduction of compensation in 1994.

    If compensation had been paid at 100 per cent. prior to February 1990 it is estimated that the Government would have incurred an increase in compensation payments of somewhere in the order of £3.5 million.Farmers receive the market value of their animals slaughtered as BSE suspects, up to a ceiling. The calculation of the maximum compensation rate for BSE suspect animals was changed with effect from 1st April 1994 to better reflect the age structure of the cattle population succumbing to the disease and so match market values more accurately. Had the previous method of calculation been used in the period 1st April 1994 to 31st March 1996 then expenditure on BSE compensation could have been up to £4.25 million higher, depending on the market value of the animals

    Production2nd quarter3rd quarter4th quarter1st quarter2nd quarter3rd quarter4th quarter1st quarter

    killed. There is no evidence that either of these changes has resulted in any under-reporting of BSE suspects.

    Bse: Dr Narang's Test

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will consider using the Narang Test, reported in

    The Times on 29th March, on all British cows to identify cows infected by bovine spongiform encephalopathy so that only those would need to be destroyed.

    We have asked Dr. Narang for details of the urine test he claims to have developed to diagnose BSE in cattle in the field. So far he has failed to provide us with any details of his test for assessment; nor has he published details of it in an independent, peer-reviewed journal, me usual way to verify such tests.

    Bse Cases In The European Union

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether there have been any outbreaks of BSE in the European Community apart from the recent case in France.

    The following number of BSE cases have been notified in the following countries up to 18th April 1996:

    • Republic of Ireland 124
    • France 17
    • Portugal 34 (of which 3 are cases imported from UK)
    • Germany 4 (all cases are imported from UK)
    • Denmark 1 (case imported from UK)
    • Italy 2 (both cases imported from UK)

    Bse Cases By Herd Type

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will provide quarterly figures for the percentage of outbreaks of BSE in the United Kingdom split between pure beef, mixed and pure milk herds for the last two years.

    The following table shows the quarterly figures of BSE cases, by date of confirmation, by production type:

    Bse Cases By Region

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they can provide the most recent quarterly figures for the incidence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United Kingdom and whether the number of cases has declined in the last two years; and

    Region2nd QTR3rd QTR4th QTR1st QTR2nd QTR3rd QTR4th QTR1st QTR
    Mid and West1,5401,1111,0981,247821767642624
    South East823510551602412327327376
    South West2,1981,5441,6111,6081,2441,048850852
    The incidence of BSE continues to decline. The number of suspect cases is now at the lowest level for

    Whether they can provide quarterly figures broken down on a regional and United Kingdom basis for the number of recorded cases of BSE for the last two years.

    The following table shows the number of BSE cases confirmed by region, by date of confirmation for the last two years (April 1994 to March 1996):five years. The total number of cases in 1995 was 40.8 per cent. lower compared with 1994.