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Homeopathic Remedies (Foot and Mouth)

Mr. Tredinnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research she intends to commission to establish the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies, including borax, in relation to the current outbreak of foot and mouth disease. [1424]

Mr. Morley: Products that are presented for the treatment or prevention of disease in animals, or which have that function must be authorised under the terms of the Marketing Authorisations for Veterinary Medicinal Products Regulations 1994 before they can be legally sold or supplied in the United Kingdom. This ensures that such products are properly assessed and are demonstrated as being safe, of consistent good quality and effective when used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. The manufacturer of any such products may apply for such authorisation. No such application has been made for Borax. The onus for providing evidence that supports the need for research into the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies, including Borax, against foot and mouth disease lies with the manufacturer.

Foot and Mouth (Cheese Production)

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations were received by her Department and by its predecessor Department about the impact of foot and mouth restrictions on the use of unpasteurised milk for specialist cheese production; what the scientific basis was for restricting this use of unpasteurised milk; and what response she has made. [1176]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 28 June 2001]: The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food received a number of representations on the manufacture and

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handling of unpasteurised cheese. My noble Friend the then Minister of State, Baroness Hayman, responded to those representations as the Minister responsible for animal health.

Foot and mouth disease virus can be excreted in milk before animals show clinical signs of the disease. Unpasteurised milk is therefore a potent source of infection, and any milk produced in an Infected Area is required to be heat treated.

Carcase Disposal (Northumberland)

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to compensate individual households and communities adversely affected by the Druridge Bay burning site and the Widdrington carcase disposal site in Northumberland. [1175]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 28 June 2001]: There is no statutory provision for compensation for any inconvenience caused to residents by the disposal of animal carcases.

Departmental Restructuring

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many civil servants were employed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in April 2001; and how many will be employed by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs once departmental restructuring is completed. [1468]

Mr. Morley: In April 2001 the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food employed 11,118 civil servants, including staff in its agencies. It is anticipated that there will be 12,190 employed in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, but this figure will be subject to change once the departmental restructuring is completed.

Nuclear Power

Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what role nuclear power will play in the UK's climate change strategy; and if she will make a statement. [837]

Mr. Meacher: Nuclear power plays a role in helping the UK to meet our climate change targets. The Government believe that existing nuclear power stations should continue to contribute to the electricity supply and to the reduction of emissions, as long as they can do so to the high safety and environmental standards that are currently observed.

Nuclear output is however expected to decline from around 2005 onwards, as the older stations begin to close. Electricity generation is therefore likely to become more carbon-intensive unless other low or zero carbon energy sources can be developed. There are currently no proposals for new nuclear power stations in the UK, largely due to nuclear's inability to compete on cost grounds with other types of generation. Issues related to waste disposal and public acceptability would also need to be resolved before industry put forward any proposals for approval. The Government will shortly be publishing a consultation document on radioactive waste policy.

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Internationally, the industry is addressing disposal issues through its research and development programmes into current and future technology, recognising that they need to be addressed effectively if nuclear power is to remain an option in the future.

The Government announced on 25 June that the performance and innovation unit is undertaking a review of the longer term, strategic issues, including those of climate change, surrounding energy policy within the context of ensuring secure, diverse and sustainable energy supplies at competitive prices.

Livestock Blood Tests

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if livestock owners whose animals are being blood-tested by her Department's vets and officials will be allowed to keep a part of samples taken. [346]

Mr. Morley: No. Samples of blood taken for testing are potentially contaminated with foot and mouth disease virus, which is a specified pathogen controlled under the Specified Animal Pathogens Order 1998 (SAPO). No one may possess a specified animal pathogen or material which contains a specified pathogen unless they are licensed to do so under SAPO and have the necessary facilities to ensure the safe containment of the pathogen concerned in relation to the risk it poses.

Farmers (Internet)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the number of livestock farmers in England who have access to the internet. [1490]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 2 July 2001]: The latest information available was collected in April and May 2000 as part of a research study into "MAFF's Role in E-Business". At that time the level of internet use among livestock farmers in the survey was estimated to be between 40 and 45 per cent. Further details of the survey results are available at maffrole/annexa.htm.

Home Energy Efficiency Scheme

Diana Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many applications there have been for home energy efficiency scheme grants since its inception; and how many were successful. [1801]

Mr. Meacher: The new home energy efficiency scheme (HEES) for England was launched on 1 June 2000.

Applications for grant are mainly made over the telephone. In the period 1 June 2000 to 30 June 2001, 388,410 householders applied, of whom, 313,623 or 80 per cent. were successful.

The separate schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are the responsibility of the respective Parliament or Assemblies.

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Fuel Poverty

Mrs. Brinton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to meet her counterparts in the devolved administrations to discuss the adoption of a common definition of fuel poverty. [1812]

Mr. Meacher: We intend to consider this, and the other issues raised during consultation on the UK Fuel Poverty Strategy, within the Inter-Ministerial Group on Fuel Poverty whose members include representatives from the devolved Administrations.

Mrs. Brinton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the final fuel poverty strategy required by the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000 will be published. [1811]

Mr. Meacher: Our aim is to publish the final version of the UK Fuel Poverty Strategy in the autumn.

State Veterinary Service

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many qualified veterinary surgeons were employed by the state veterinary service in each year since 1979. [1983]

Mr. Morley: The number of veterinary surgeons employed by the state veterinary service at 1 January each year since 1979, is given in the table. The hon. Member may wish to know that since this date the state veterinary service has changed several times. The Central Veterinary Laboratory (CVL), which previously formed part of the state veterinary service, became the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) in April 1990. The CVL figures are incorporated in this return for the years 1 January 1980 to 1 January 1990. From 1990 the figures do not include the CVL. The Veterinary Investigation Service became part of the VLA on 1 October 1995 and is not included in these figures from that date. In 2000, there were 99 veterinarians employed by VLA. Much of the information presented here previously appeared on 27 February 1997, Official Report, columns 323–24W.

Of the 286 full-time equivalent veterinarians employed by the state veterinary service, 220 are employed as field veterinary officers. The work of these officers is supplemented by about 100 Temporary Veterinary Inspectors (TVIs) from the private sector in normal times.

YearNumber of vets

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