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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 2 February 2001



Mr. Drew: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the EU's position regarding the control of BSE, with particular reference to the export of processed meat. [146077]

Ms Quin [holding answer 18 January 2001]: Under Commission Regulation 2777/2000 no beef from animals over 30 months old may be sold for human consumption unless it has been tested for BSE with a negative result, and specified risk material has to be removed from all beef going into the food chain.

In addition, the European Community has imposed controls on the export of processed bovine meat from the United Kingdom and from Portugal.

Export from the UK may take place only in accordance with Council Decision 98/256/EC, which sets out emergency measures to protect against BSE. No plants are approved to export processed beef of UK origin. A list of plants approved to export processed beef of foreign origin is available on the MAFF website at http//:www.maff.gov.uk/animalh/int-trade/default.htm.

Commission Decision 98/653/EC (as amended) prohibits the export of processed beef from Portugal.

Farmers' Income

Mr. Breed: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will estimate the number of farmers in the UK with an annual income of (a) £25,000 or less, (b) £25,000 to £50,000, (c) £50,000 to £100,000 and (d) over £100,000. [146152]

Ms Quin [holding answer 22 January 2001]: The data for the precise income bands requested are not readily available but similar information is given in the table.

Distribution of farmers' incomes assessed for tax: 1998-99

United Kingdom
Total income assessed for tax (1)Number of farmers (2)
Less than £20,000265,000
£20,000 to £30,00029,000
£30,000 to £50,00021,000
£50,000 to £100,0008,000
£100,000 and over5,000

(1) Income from sources other than agriculture is also included

(2) Individuals whose self-employment income from agriculture forms the major part of their self-employment income


Inland Revenue, Survey of Personal Incomes

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Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food from which bodies the Government have sought advice on the scientific justification for a ban in the United Kingdom on the use of fishmeal in animal feed. [146404]

Mr. Nick Brown [holding answer 22 January 2001]: The list of organisations and individuals consulted by the Ministry on the implementation of the feed ban, including fishmeal, can be found on the BSE internet site http://www.maff.gov.uk/animalh/bse/index.html.

Laying Hens

Mr. Baker: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans his Department has to fund research into the enriched cage system for laying hens; and if he will make a statement. [148110]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 1 February 2001]: My Department has commissioned research into the enriched cage system for laying hens. We need to be sure that our thinking on the welfare outcome of enriched cages and our position when reviewing Directive 1999/74/EC in 2005 is based on robust science.

New Forest Ponies

Mr. Cox: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what his policy is on the welfare and protection of New Forest ponies. [148325]

Mr. Morley: Policy towards the welfare and protection of New Forest ponies is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department using powers from the Protection of Animals Acts 1911-88. My responsibility is limited to welfare at markets including horse sales, during transport and at slaughter. Within my responsibility, I seek to ensure that the ponies are treated so as to avoid any suffering.

Flood Defences

Mr. Todd: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent representations he has received on the powers of the Environment Agency as they relate to the responsibilities of local authorities for flood defence. [148279]

Mr. Morley: I am aware of the recommendation in paragraph 12 of the Third Report, Session 2000-01, of the Agriculture Committee. While no such representations have been made, the Environment Agency has made me aware of difficulties whereby over 119 local authorities are either unwilling or unable to inspect flood defences and critical ordinary watercourses.

While flood and coastal defence legislation is permissive, the Government do look to local authorities and others to take flood defence responsibilities seriously, recognising the potential threat to human life and the damage and distress that flooding can cause. I therefore agreed with the Local Government Association that such inspections would take place, and the requirement appears in the High Level Targets for the flood and coastal defence operating authorities. These targets took effect from April 2000 and were published alongside an

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elaboration of the Environment Agency general flood defence supervisory duty, which sets out the arrangements for inspection in more detail.

I have asked the Agency for details of the local authorities who will not be undertaking inspections, together with details of the significance of the defences and watercourses in their areas. I shall then consider taking the matter up with the Local Government Association.


Line of Route

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Chairman of the Administration Committee when the Committee will make the results of the summer re-opening of the Line of Route available to the House. [148717]

Mrs. Roe: I am pleased to advise the hon. Member that the Committee has now concluded its review of the summer re-opening and has agreed its Report to the House. The Report, "The Trial Summer Re-opening of the Line of Route" (HC (2000-01) 213) will be published at 11.00 am on Thursday 8 February; copies will be available to hon. Members, from this time, in the Vote Office.


School Teachers' Pay

Dr. Naysmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on school teachers' pay and conditions. [148715]

Mr. Blunkett: The report of the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) on teachers' pay in England and Wales in 2001-02 has been published today and copies placed in the Library. I will now consult with the teacher employers and unions on my proposals in response to the recommendations. The key proposals are set out. I welcome the report which enables the Government to press on with their drive to raise the status and quality of the teaching profession and its attractiveness as a career to good graduates.

The Government propose to accept the STRB's recommendations that with effect from 1 April 2000:

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Salaries are rising significantly. A newly qualified teacher starting in Inner London will earn £20,000, 21 per cent. more than in 1997 and 9 per cent. more than in April last year. A good experienced classroom teacher outside London who has passed the performance threshold will earn almost £27,000, 25 per cent. more than in 1997 and £3,000 (or 12 per cent.) more than in April last year. And the pay structure will contain more flexibility for schools to reward good performers and for schools in challenging circumstances to attract and retain good teachers.

In addition the assessment for Advanced Skills Teachers will be resumed later this spring on the basis that selection standards and procedures should be those that were being used up to July 2000; and that with effect from 1 January 2002, applicants for AST assessment must first have crossed the performance threshold for classroom teachers. ASTs should have a duty to undertake 'outreach' and 'inreach' work and we will consult with interested parties on the detail.

In recognition of the additional Bank Holiday which has been announced for June 2002 to commemorate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee, the 190 days in the school year on which teachers must be available for work and may be required to teach pupils will be reduced by one day in 2001-02. There will be consequential reduction in the overall total of 1,265 hours allocated over 195 days for which the teacher must be available for work.

The criterion for progression above the starting point of the upper pay scale will be substantial and sustained performance and contribution to the school as a teacher. Teachers who move up the upper pay scale should be performing above the level of the threshold. The Department will offer guidance on how the criterion will apply, but decisions will be for governing bodies to take, advised by the head. My Department is planning to provide a substantial amount of funding to support performance awards in England. Funding in Wales is provided by the National Assembly through the revenue support grant.

New awards of the 5th management allowance will be discouraged, pending further examination by the STRB of whether it should be retained in the longer term.

Special Educational Needs Allowance 1 should be awarded on a mandatory basis to teachers in special schools; teachers of children who are hearing-impaired or visually-impaired; and teachers appointed to Special Educational Needs units in mainstream schools. The award of SEN allowance 1 in other mainstream schools should be on a discretionary basis. The award of SEN allowance 2 should continue to be on a discretionary basis, as at present.

As many schools are still working on the development of their leadership group within the new structure, there will continue to be flexibility to adjust heads' Individual School Ranges (ISRs) and salary ranges for other members of the leadership group and Advanced Skills Teachers.

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The STRB has acknowledged concerns about teachers' workload. Teaching is a challenging profession. While I make no apology for the programme we introduced to improve standards--the results of which are now becoming evident--I have already acted to cut external Government bureaucracy by, for example, reducing my Department's mailings to schools; radically simplifying the Standards Fund with an end to bidding and claiming; and increasing the use of ICT. We have also been dealing with the causes of poor morale in the mid-90s by increasing resources substantially for buildings, books and computers.

I agree with the STRB that the way forward lies not in crude limits on the hours teachers spend at work or in the classroom, which would be unworkable and would not go to the core of the problem, but in action to identify clearly the problems of excessive workload and to tackle them. We are taking forward the work the STRB has recommended to identify good practice and stimulate change. In particular, we will review the implementation of my Department's 1998 guidance to schools on cutting bureaucracy, and will continue to follow through the current drive to reduce external paperwork going to schools. The figures I announced last December show that about 40 per cent. fewer documents were sent to primary schools last term, and 66 per cent. fewer to secondary schools.

We will consult with interested parties on the detailed processes, criteria and standards for the "fast track" scheme. This scheme operates in England only; the National Assembly for Wales is considering the position in Wales.

The answer applies to England and Wales in relation to teachers' pay and conditions and the School Teachers' Review Body. References to other issues apply in England only.

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