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Dawn Primarolo: Since 1997 the Government have taken firm action to tackle excise fraud. In June 2000, the Government commissioned an investigation into excise duty collection in HM Customs and Excise. The investigation was conducted by Mr. John Roques, former senior partner of Deloitte Touche. His report and the Government's response to it have today been laid before Parliament (as Cm 5239).
Mr. Andrew Smith: An updated and improved National Asset Register has today been laid before Parliament, providing for the first time a comprehensive list and valuation of all assets owned by central Government Departments, their executive agencies and
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sponsored bodies and the devolved Administrations. Copies of the register are available in the Vote Office and the Libraries of both Houses; it can also be accessed on the internet at www.hm-treasury.gov.uk.
The total value of the assets listed in the register was £274 billion at the end of 19992000. The register is a useful tool in the management of these public assets and details changes in asset holdings since 1997. It shows that in 19992000 alone £1.3 billion worth of surplus assets were disposed of, unlocking resources that can be used more productively elsewhere.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the seven banks referred to by the Managing Director of the Financial Services Authority on 8 March in connection with weaknesses in money laundering prevention are fully compliant. 
Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the results of discussions between the Financial Services Authority, the law enforcement agencies and the banks following money laundering allegations in the case of the Abacha family. 
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(16) Healthy life expectancy combines mortality and morbidity into a single index.
(17) Figures for 1997 are based on 199698 mortality data and 1996 and 1998 data from the GHS. The figures for Great Britain and the methodology used to calculate them were published in the ONS journal, "Health Statistics Quarterly 07", August 2000.
Mr. John Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Minister of Health's powers to control and direct the Registrar General in the performance of his duties under the Census Act 1920 were rescinded; who now holds those powers; and what amendments have been made to section 2(2) of the Act to reflect the change of ministerial control. 
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Mr. Morley: Sustainable rural development is one of the key objectives of my new Department. We will be preparing a sustainable development strategy that will look both at the promotion of sustainable food chains within the United Kingdom and promoting sustainability within the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. This will involve the transfer of resources from market support measuresso-called first pillar policiesto the second pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy as the key mechanism for delivering environmental, economic and social policy goals in rural areas and for facilitating restructuring of the agricultural industry.
We have already said that we will be setting up an Independent Commission to advise on how we can assist the development of a sustainable, competitive and diverse farming and food sector within a thriving rural economy which advances environmental health and animal welfare goals. An announcement on this will be made shortly.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many jobs have been lost in Cumbria in the (a) agricultural sector and (b) tourist industry as a result of the foot and mouth outbreak; 
Alun Michael: The Department does not have statistics on job losses in the agricultural sector in Cumbria resulting from foot and mouth disease. We are, however, planning to organise a telephone survey of a sample of farmers who have been directly or indirectly affected by foot and mouth disease. It is proposed that questions relating to the employment effects of the outbreak will be included in this survey.
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. However, the Insolvency Service has identified that about 33 businesses have cited foot and mouth disease as the reason for closure since 12 April and anticipate that this figure will rise. Evidence on labour market impact in most of the areas which are seriously affected suggests that 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,
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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.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps were taken to ensure that farmers were aware (a) of the law surrounding slaughter of animals as a result of foot and mouth disease control and (b) of their rights relating to property prior to the slaughter of their animals; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: The Animal Health Act 1981 provides the powers to require the slaughter of any animals affected with foot and mouth disease, or suspected of being infected. It also sets the rate of compensation. The Department took a number of steps to inform farmers of the policies being pursued to eradicate foot and mouth, including letters, the provision of information via the internet and the establishment of a helpline. Veterinary staff and other DEFRA staff in disease control centres throughout the country are available to provide any explanation required by the owner of an infected premises. Owners of infected premises will have the range of movement and other restrictions explained to them.
Farmers are also made aware of their rights regarding procedures for disputed valuations. Of course, up to the point where the animals are slaughtered, responsibility for the care and welfare of the animals rests with their owner.
Mr. Morley: With conventional foot and mouth disease vaccines which meet international criteria of safety and potency and following the routine, two-dose primary course of vaccination, there should be no likelihood of vaccinated animals becoming clinically infected with a closely related strain within the same virus serotype for approximately 12 months. This is dependent on vaccination being part of an overall control programme, which includes movement restrictions.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish the protocols and guidance notes for the disinfection of milking parlours following foot and mouth disease. 
Mr. Morley: Detailed guidance is currently being drafted in respect of cleansing and the disinfection of milking parlours. It will be distributed widely among all interested parties and a copy will be placed in the Libraries of the House. Information is available on the website in respect of disinfectants and their use generally in cleaning farms following an outbreak of FMD.
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David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what date it is estimated that the last milking parlour on currently infected premises will be disinfected and reinstated ready for use. 
Mr. Morley: Central records of infected premises do not specify whether they have a milking parlour. However, even if this information were available, it would not be possible to predict a date given the many variables involved in the process of disinfecting and reinstating premises infected by foot and mouth.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations have been made to the Government by other countries who have suffered a foot and mouth outbreak. 
Mr. Morley: The Government have received a number of representations from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay both via official and diplomatic channels. All of these countries have recently suffered outbreaks of foot and mouth and the representations primarily concerned the UK's position on imports of meat from those countries.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if she will publish the protocols or guidance for the removal of ash from a foot and mouth disease burn site; 
Mr. Morley: Ash from pyres will normally be buried on site in those cases where the Environment Agency has issued a Groundwater Authorisation that permits this. Where this cannot be done it will be disposed of in licensed landfill sites. A copy of the protocols governing the removal and disposal of ash has been deposited in the Library of the House.
Copies of this document are available from the DEFRA Foot and Mouth Disease Joint Co-ordination Centre, 1a Page St., London SW1P 4PQ (Tel.: 0845 0504141); it will also be published on the DEFRA website as soon as possible.
Mr. Morley: I am guided on this matter by the expert veterinary and scientific advice received, which is that once vaccinated animals are fully protected they should not develop clinical foot and mouth disease. However, the virus can replicate even in animals immune against the development of clinical disease, if they are exposed to infection. A proportion of such animals can become persistently infected while never developing clinical disease. These are so-called "carriers". Virus replication in carrier animals is confined to the oro-pharynx (throat) and occurs only in ruminants (cattle, sheep and goats). Pigs do not become carriers.
Expert scientific advice is that spread from vaccinated carrier animals is an extremely rare event; the amount of virus excreted is many orders of magnitude less than that expected by animals during the acute phase of disease or
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during the sub-clinical incubation period. To minimise the risks further, movement restrictions would be applied to all vaccinated animals for 12 months. Any risk of spread of foot and mouth disease from vaccinated carrier animals is considered to be extremely remote. However, it can be one reason to prohibit the export of animals and animal products from countries which practise vaccination to those which do not and which are free of the disease.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment the Government have made of the risk of infection of foot and mouth via the wild animal population, with particular reference to deer, hedgehogs and rats. 
Mr. Morley: Our current veterinary risk assessment concludes that infected deer could transmit foot and mouth disease to susceptible livestock during the clinical stages of the disease. However the risk of wild deer playing any significant part in the spread of the disease is assessed as very low and feral deer are unlikely to represent a longer term risk. During the current outbreak over 60 deer have been examined for foot and mouth disease with negative results, and we have no evidence of deer playing any part in the spread of disease.
Hedgehogs are susceptible to foot and mouth disease but do not appear to have played any part in the spread of the disease. Rats are not susceptible to foot and mouth disease but may have a role in spreading the disease indirectly. For this reason an intensive programme of rodent control is carried out on infected premises.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the use of real-time video in undertaking veterinary surveillance of animal herds to detect clinical signs of foot and mouth. 
Mr. Morley: No formal assessment has been made but experience has shown that the disease, especially in sheep, may be difficult to detect even by close physical examination by a veterinary inspector. Real-time video is therefore not considered to be a practical proposition.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farmers in (a) Cumbria and (b) England entered their sheep for the welfare disposal scheme when it was fixed at £45 per head; and how many were (i) not collected and (ii) pending collection when the price was dropped to £30 per head. 
Mr. Morley: The Livestock Welfare Disposal Scheme (LWDS) was introduced to provide a means of resolving serious animal welfare problems arising directly from the FMD movement restrictions. Payments made under the scheme are to alleviate welfare problems, and are not a form of compensation. The payment rates were changed on 30 April in the light of evidence that applicants were using the scheme as an alternative market, despite the introduction of various schemes to allow livestock movements from 23 April.
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As LWDS has progressed, an average of 30 per cent. of animals put forward for the scheme are withdrawn by applicants at the point of slaughter as more opportunities to move livestock have become available. Accurate figures of animals "non collected" or "pending collection" from specific counties are not available. A comprehensive breakdown by category of animal of livestock notified under the scheme is not available for the first few weeks of LWDS.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farmers' animals have received (a) pre-22 March stock valuations and (b) standard valuations; and how many animals were involved in each case. 
Mr. Morley: The information is not yet available in the form requested. The Department is currently preparing a database of detailed information on livestock valuations and I will write to the right hon. Member when I am able to provide more information.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farms within a 10-mile radius of Heddon-on-the-Wall have been infected with foot and mouth disease. 
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what statutory powers governed the (a) use of vaccination as an eradication policy and (b) other vaccination options considered by her Department in respect of foot and mouth disease. 
Mr. Morley: Vaccination against foot and mouth disease is covered by the provisions of Council Directive 85/511/EEC, which requires member states to prohibit vaccination. This has been implemented through the Foot- and-Mouth Disease (Control of Vaccination) (England) Regulations 2001.
However, the Directive also provides for limited recourse to emergency vaccination, in accordance with plans which must be authorised by the European Commission, working through the European Union's Standing Veterinary Committee. Any Commission Decision to permit vaccination would be implemented in the UK by Regulations made under the European Communities Act 1972.
During the early stage of the current outbreak, two Commission Decisions were adopted which permitted vaccination in parts of the UK in limited circumstances. In the event, these were not put into effect. The use of vaccination against foot and mouth disease is under continuous review, in the light of changing circumstances and knowledge about the disease outbreak.
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payment of livestock compensation to farmers whose animals have been slaughtered in the foot and mouth crisis; and if she will pay interest from the date of stock loss. 
Mr. Morley: I recognise that there have been delays in payment of compensation to some farmers whose animals have been slaughtered in the foot and mouth outbreak, and that at the peak period of April and May these delays could be extensive. However, delays are reducing and new claims should be paid within three weeks of the receipt of correct documents. Ministers are considering whether the payment of interest on delayed compensation payments would be justified. Standard valuations were introduced on 22 March which could help to reduce the time taken between diagnosis of disease and payment of compensation. However, this facility has only been used by a minority of farmers.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons a 24 hour slaughter policy was not in place in the initial confirmed cases of foot and mouth disease. 
Mr. Morley: Veterinary instructions in place before the start of the outbreak required that animals in which disease was confirmed should be slaughtered with all practical speed and that those animals showing clinical signs should be slaughtered immediately on confirmation. The 24-hour policy was introduced as part of an on-going review of the Government's control policies and provided veterinary staff with a more precise target.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what changes were made to the foot and mouth contingency plan as a result of the updating exercises conducted in November and December 2000. 
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the (a) farmers and (b) farms whose stock was slaughtered out because they were categorised as (i) direct contacts, (ii) contiguous cull, (iii) slaughter on suspicion and (iv) voluntary cull. 
Mr. Morley: Our policy, based on legal advice, is to publish on the DEFRA website details of infected premises as this is essential public information in the fight against foot and mouth disease. For reasons of data protection and confidentiality, we are not releasing information on other affected premises, other than to organisations that require it for the purpose of safeguarding public health and for co-ordination of the rural recovery programmes. Data may otherwise be released with the written consent of the individual concerned.
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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what basis 10 km was decided on as the distance from an infected premises for the ban on animal movement. 
Mr. Morley: EU legislation requires member states to declare an Infected Area at a minimum of a 10 km radius around an Infected Premises (IP), taking account of natural boundaries and any epidemiological factors such as the dispersal of virus by windborne spread. This is based on scientific and veterinary advice and experience in dealing with disease.
Mr. Jon Owen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action the Government are taking to lift the blanket closures of footpaths and bridleways imposed by local authorities under the Foot and Mouth Disease Order 1983; and if she will make a statement. 
Alun Michael: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 21 June 2001, Official Report, column 166, that she had asked me to look urgently at revoking remaining blanket closures of rights of way imposed by local authorities in England. Letters were sent to local authorities the next day explaining the Government's proposals in more detail and inviting them to make representations if they considered they could justify retaining blanket closures beyond 20 July.
I have now considered carefully the representations received. I have agreed that blanket closures may remain in place for the time being in Cumbria and in parts of Devon, Lancashire, Durham, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. I have also allowed Somerset to retain partial blanket closure until 27 July, and agreed with north Yorkshire their proposals for temporarily retaining closures in parts of the county. In granting these exemptions we have recognised the logistical difficulties which revocation would pose for a few authorities, particularly those hardest hit by foot and mouth disease.
With the exception of the authorities mentioned above, all remaining closures under article 35B will be lifted from midnight on Friday 20 July. At midnight the following Friday, 27 July, any remaining closures under article 35A (which allowed authorities to close individual paths outside Infected Areas without ministerial consent) will be revoked.
These actions will ensure that public rights of way are closed only where this is justified. The Department's guidance and veterinary risk assessment issued on 23 May makes it clear that, except within 3 km Protection Zones around infected premises, paths may safely be re-opened. We expect authorities to continue to re-open paths where this can be done safely, in line with the guidance. We shall review the position no later than early September.
Lifting blanket closures does not mean that all paths will be open. Local authorities retain power to close individual paths, though outside Infected Areas this requires the Department's consent. All such closures must be signed at entrances to the path. Authorities should use their power to close paths selectively, in the areas affected by revocation and elsewhere, only where justified on disease control grounds in line with the Department's guidance. Where paths within Protection Zones are
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affected by the lifting of a blanket closure, authorities should arrange for their selective re-closure where appropriate.
People using paths should take sensible precautions to reduce even further any risk of spreading the disease. These are set out in the codes for path users accompanying the guidance to local authorities of 23 May. Authorities should publicise these precautions, particularly the need to stay off farmland if people have recently handled farm animals and to avoid going near, touching or feeding livestock.
The Government's decision to open footpaths to walkers is entirely consistent with our strong advice to farmers to observe tight bio-security and reflects very different risks. The risks of footpath users transmitting the disease are tiny, particularly when compared with those posed by farmers and others who handle livestock.
Foot and mouth disease remains a serious problem in a few areas and we continue to do all that is necessary to contain and eradicate it. But in most of England there is no case for wholesale closures. Keeping footpaths closed hurts the rural economy and prevents people enjoying the countryside. We have received strong representations in favour of our approach from those engaged in tourism and other rural businessesincluding farmers who have diversified their activitiesbecause of the extent to which their income has been devastated by the consequences of the outbreak. Revoking unnecessary closures now means the vast majority of our countryside will be open for the summer holidays and people will know where they can walk, cycle or ride.
David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 4 July 2001, Official Report, columns 18990W, how many foreign vets, from which countries, have assisted the UK during the foot and mouth epidemic; and how many left the UK before receiving payment. 
Mr. Morley [pursuant to the reply, 4 July 2001, c. 18990W]: I am sorry that there was an error in the list of foreign vets and in which country they are from. Spain was included in error on the list of foreign Government vets.
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.
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