HC Deb 19 January 1993 vol 217 cc206-8W
Mr. Ron Davies

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the availability of vaccine against myxomatosis in pet arid commercially farmed rabbits.

Mr. Soames

In April 1992 the only United Kingdom product licence for a myxomatosis vaccine was surrendered by its holder. As a result no further supplies of vaccine were available once existing stocks held by veterinary practitioners were used up. Following informal discussions between the veterinary medicines directorate and vaccine manufacturers, and representations by rabbit keepers to the pharmaceutical industry, an application has recently been received from Intervet (UK) Ltd to licence a replacement vaccine. The data supporting the application are being assessed as rapidly as possible against the standard Medicines Act criteria of safety, quality and efficacy.

Mrs. Browning

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the effect of the abolition of monetary compensatory amounts on inflation in British food prices; and what consideration has been given to phasing in the subsequent green pound devaluation.

Mr. Curry

The 7 per cent. devaluation of the green pound agreed at the Agriculture Council in November and three smaller automatic devaluations resulting from realignments within the exchange rate mechanism (ERM) were followed by a 4.4 per cent. devaluation of the United Kingdom green rate on 1 January 1993, to take it within two points of the prevailing market exchange rate in line with the rules of the new agrimonetary system. These green rate changes effectively phased in the adjustment to the new arrangements under which monetary compensatory amounts (MCAs) were abolished. It is estimated that these green pound devaluations may increase food prices by about 2 per cent. once the effects of the increases in common agricultural policy support prices have worked through.

Under the rules of the new system, green rate devaluations (and revaluations) will take place automatically in order to keep green rates closely aligned with market rates. The market exchange rates of the currencies outside the narrow band of the ERM (currently the pound sterling, the lira, the peseta, the escudo and the drachma) will be monitored during three 10-day reference periods each month. A member state's green rate will be adjusted whenever there is a gap of more than two percentage points between green and market rates during the final reference period in a month. There will also be adjustments when the difference between the monetary gaps for any

Average weekly earnings (adults)1 £ Weekly upper earnings limit (UEL) UEL as a percentage of average earnings Per cent. Number of people3 Million Estimated effect on NI revenues4 £billion
1978 78.60 120.00 152.7
1992 304.60 405.00 133.0 1.7 +0.5
1993 2320.00 420.00 131.3 1.8 +0.7


1 Average weekly full time earnings of all adults. Source: New Earnings Survey.

2 Assumes a rise in average earnings of 5 per cent. rounded to the nearest £.

3 The estimated number of people with earnings above the UEL but below the level which would have applied had the UEL been increased in line with average earnings since 1978–79.

4 The estimated effect on NI revenue had the increases in the UEL since 1978–79 been by the level of earnings rather than prices. Includes effects on both employers' and employees' NICs.

Mr. Dewar

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish figures showing(a) the level of the lower earnings limit for national insurance contributions as a percentage of average earnings in 1978–79, 1992–93 and his projection for 1993–94, (b) the number of additional people who will pay national insurance contributions in 1992–93 and 1993–94 as a result of

two currencies exceeds four points in any of the three reference periods in a month. Finally, more frequent adjustments can be made to green rates when exchange rates are very volatile.