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Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will extend the farm business advisory scheme to form D farms; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 9 July 2001]: The farm business advice service is available to all farm businesses in England, including those subject to form D restrictions. However, in many parts of the country the 200102 budget is almost fully committed. Additional funding has been made available to fund delivery of an enhanced form of the farm business advice service to all farmers in England who have had their livestock compulsorily slaughtered under the foot and mouth disease control measures.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list (a) the numbers of vets and (b) the country from which they came who have been assisting with the foot and mouth crisis from February to date. 
Mr. Morley: Foreign veterinary assistance has been provided in two ways. Governments have loaned state veterinarians to the Department. Other foreign veterinary surgeons have also been appointed as temporary veterinary inspectors (TVIs).
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David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations the tourist industry has made to the Government over its handling of the foot and mouth outbreak. 
Alun Michael: The tourist industry is represented on the rural task force by the British Hospitality Association, the British Tourist Authority and the English Tourism Council; ministerial colleagues from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport also attend. Under my chairmanship and, formerly, under that of my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment (Mr. Meacher), the task force has frequently discussed the impact of foot and mouth disease on tourism and how Government policies might help mitigate that impact. I and colleagues have also received extensive correspondence and held numerous meetings with representatives of tourism and other industries from the worst-hit areas.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many jobs have been lost as a result of the foot and mouth outbreak in (a) the agricultural industry and (b) rural businesses. 
Alun Michael: It is too early to make a full assessment of the number of jobs lost as a result of the foot and mouth outbreak, and for many businesses the worst impacts are likely to occur over the autumn and winter period. Evidence on labour market impact suggests that broadly foot and mouth disease has slowed the rate at which unemployment is falling, through an effect on both job losses and recruitment. Local survey evidence suggests that the tourism industry in the worst affected areas has suffered a large loss of trade in the past four months, which is likely to have resulted in a fall in the number of seasonal employees in these areas, besides any business failures and permanent jobs lost.
The Government have introduced a range of measures to help businesses cope with the impact of foot and mouth disease and will continue to assess the scope for further action through the rural task force, chaired by myself.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans the Government have to protect (a) pedigree and (b) hefted sheep against infection by foot and mouth disease. 
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Mr. Morley: The Government are taking every possible action to eradicate the disease and so protect flocks in the future. Also owners of rare breeds of sheep and goats and hefted sheep may apply for exemptions from the cull of contiguous premises, provided they meet certain conditions including meeting high standards of biosecurity and their animals passing serological tests. The industry itself, and all those who work among it, also have a role to play in ensuring maximum biosecurity to stop the spread of the disease.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list (a) the number and (b) country of origin of vets who returned home from MAFF/DEFRA service and had not been paid before their departure from the United Kingdom. 
Mr. Morley: Foreign veterinary assistance has been provided in two ways. Governments have loaned state veterinarians to the Department. Terms and conditions were agreed with the relevant authorities in each country prior to the vets travelling to GB. Their salaries continue to be paid by the authorities in their own country.
Other foreign vets have also been appointed as temporary veterinary inspectors (TVIs). TVIs are paid a daily rate which is claimed retrospectively. The necessary details to allow payment of moneys due is requested at the time of appointment. Information concerning the timing of payments to individuals in relation to their date of departure from GB is not recorded.
Mr. Morley: Our current estimate (as at 9 July) of the direct cost of the outbreak to the Exchequer is around £2.2 billion. Among other things, this includes cost of disinfection and cleansing as well as compensation for compulsory slaughter of affected livestock.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) of the contiguous culls in Worcestershire, how many have occurred around premises believed to be infected with foot and mouth disease, but which subsequently were shown to be negative in laboratory tests; 
Mr. Morley: Information is available only for Hereford and Worcester. Of 66 infected premises, 43 were tested, of which 30 returned negative laboratory results. These 30 cases remain designated as infected premises and are associated with 119 contiguous premises.
An infected premises is one where foot and mouth disease has either been diagnosed by a vet on the farm, supported by convincing clinical evidence, or where disease is found after testing. However, a negative laboratory result does not necessarily mean that the disease was not present and does not change the status of infected premises confirmed on clinical diagnosis.
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Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will make a decision on the holding of a public inquiry into the explosion at the Cleaning Services Group Ltd., Sandhurst, Gloucester; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 9 July 2001]: I fully understand the concerns of local residents about the incident and their calls for a public inquiry. We are considering this issue in the light of the latest progress report into the Environment Agency and Health and Safety Executive's joint investigation of the incidents. An announcement will be made as soon as possible.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received on the risk to tigers in Thailand and the performance of the authorities in that country in enforcing agreements for the survival of the species; what representations Her Majesty's Government have made on this matter; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher: A copy of the Environment Investigation Agency's (EIA) report "Thailand's Tiger Economy" was sent to my Department in June. Since then we have received no representations on the risk to tigers in Thailand and the performance of the authorities in that country; nor have we made representations on this matter.
The UK is committed to supporting tiger conservation worldwide but we cannot intervene directly in the protection afforded to them in other countries. However, we do work closely with other countries to promote tiger conservation through our membership of such organisations as the Global Tiger Forum (an Indian-based consortium of tiger range states and others dedicated to promoting the conservation of tigers in the wild) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). We have contributed over £150,000 to a number of tiger initiatives over the last three years, including £40,000 to help CITES establish a tiger enforcement task force to combat illicit trade in tigers worldwide.
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