The Advisory Committee

Part of Orders of the Day — Food and Environment Protection Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 6:15 pm on 26th June 1985.

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Photo of Mrs Peggy Fenner Mrs Peggy Fenner , Medway 6:15 pm, 26th June 1985

I am grateful to the hon. Member for his explanation. I hope that he will forgive me if I respond rather predictably by saying that we cannot accept the amendment because it is unnecessary, since clause 15(7), which enables Ministers to establish an advisory committee, makes it absolutely clear that the area of activity of the committee and indeed the reason for its existence are the general purpose of part III of the Bill. That being so, I can assure the House that this Government at least—I venture to say, any Government—would not consider making any appointment to the ACP without having regard to the general purposes of this legislation.

The hon. Member made some astonishing comments about the members of the ACP. Professor Kilpatrick, the chairman, is concerned with living patients, as is Professor Berry, the chairman of the scientific sub-committee, whose expertise also includes carcinogenicity and teratogenicity. I remind him that pathologists are not solely concerned with the dead but are also greatly concerned with diagnosis of ailments in the living.

As for the future, I have already said that we shall be reviewing the structure and composition of the ACP and the sub-committee and panels that assist it in the light of the changes which the legislation will bring. We have already had some preliminary discussions with the committee on the implications of extending the pesticides screening system to cover efficacy and humaneness as well as safety, and we are looking at ways of benefiting from user and supplier experience by giving those groups access to formal advisory panels.

I should, however, make it clear that it is our firm intention to invite the present chairman and members of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides to serve on the statutory committee, and I very much hope that they will agree to do so. This Government and preceding Governments are greatly indebted to the advisory committee and its scientific sub-committee for their meticulous assessment of the risks attached to the use of pesticides and for the sound and unbiased advice that they have given us over many years. That the general public do not always realise just how well they have been protected is a fault of communication on our side, and I am glad to take this opportunity to express our appreciation of the considerable service which the advisory committee provides.