asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will review the availability of imported pesticides so that the standards applied by United Kingdom manufacturers under the pesticides safety precautions scheme can be applied to all pesticides used in the United Kingdom.
All pesticides intended for use in the United Kingdom, whether imported or home-produced, are subject to clearance under the pesticides safety precautions scheme — a formal but non-statutory agreement between the Government and the pesticides industry. However, the scheme has not been fully effective in regulating the import of uncleared pesticides, and for this reason the Government have decided to introduce statutory arrangements for ensuring the safe and efficient use of pesticides.
I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, which I believe will be widely welcomed. There is growing concern about the indiscriminate use of pesticides. If a voluntary scheme is to work, it is clearly important that it should work for all pesticides. I hope that my hon. Friend shares that concern.
I shall respond to my hon. Friend's suggestion that there is indiscriminate use of pesticides. Already, our policy to contain use levels to the minimum consistent with efficient food production has enabled us to give priority to developments by ADAS of integrated pest control systems, better application methods, disease resistant crop varieties and better forecasting of pest and disease outbreaks.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the voluntary scheme has been unsuccessful? Will she bring forward proposals in the near future to promote safety, to reduce environmental pollution and to protect the position of United Kingdom manufacturers of pesticides?
We hope that it will be possible to bring forward proposals early in the next Session. I fully understand the viewpoint of firms which believe that uncleared imports have been undermining their position.
Mr. Mark Hughes:
Will the Minister confirm that the regulations will apply to Northern Ireland, because there is some doubt about that? Will she make every effort to ensure that they are introduced before the end of this Session, because there will be every support from the Opposition for their immediate implementation?
I have said already that I believe they will be introduced at the beginning of the next Session. If the hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) will forgive me, I shall confirm or otherwise the application of the regulations to Northern Ireland.