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Genetics and Insurance

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the Government will publish their response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee fifth report of Session 2000–01 on Genetics and Insurance. [10120]

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Jacqui Smith: The Government's response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee fifth report on Genetics and Insurance is published today as Cm 5286 and copies have been placed in the Library.

ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS

Waste Incineration

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to reduce the proportion of waste disposed of by incineration over the next five years. [5194]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 19 July 2001]: Our priority is to meet the requirement of the landfill directive to divert biodegradable municipal waste away from landfill by maximising recycling and composting and minimising the need for incineration and landfill. In order to achieve this the Government have set tough statutory targets under best value for local authorities to double the amount of household waste recycled by 2003–04 and treble it by 2005–06, and will set further targets for later years.

Foot and Mouth

David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the last case was of foot and mouth disease in the Longtown area; and when restrictions on farms in that area will be lifted. [5346]

Mr. Morley: The last confirmed case in the Longtown area of foot and mouth was 4 June. Infected Area restrictions were removed from the Longtown area with effect from midnight on 8 October.

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government's latest assessment is of the necessity to use vaccination in efforts to eradicate foot and mouth disease. [7845]

Mr. Morley: The current advice of the Chief Scientific Adviser and Chief Veterinary Officer is that the use of vaccination is not the most appropriate measure to eradicate the disease in present circumstances. The number of new cases continues to decline, and as at 18 October there have been no cases since 30 September. The use of vaccination could be reassessed if the disease trend changed significantly.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many businesses have (a) applied for and (b) received rates relief in relation to the economic impact of foot and mouth disease. [7873]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 15 October 2001]: Full information on the level of take up of hardship rate relief will not be available until local authorities submit their claims next year. However, the latest survey carried out by the Local Government Association shows that, as of 8 October, nearly 6,500 businesses have applied for hardship rate relief with nearly 3,000 of these applications being granted and just over 350 being rejected (data from the 127 local authorities that supplied all sets of information).

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Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if the removal of toxic ash from the Hernscott Hill foot and mouth incineration site in Northumberland has been completed; and what arrangements for monitoring of the site and consultation with local residents have been made. [7446]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 15 October 2001]: All visible ash has been removed from Hernscott Hill, Widdrington. Monitoring arrangements are in hand in co-operation with Castle Morpeth borough council and the private landowner to ensure that should there be any residues these are detected and removed. Regular meetings are held between DEFRA, local authorities and residents to hear residents' concerns and to appraise them in broad terms of activity on the site. The site will be returned to its original state, following agreement between DEFRA and the private landowner.

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the estimated cost to public funds of the foot and mouth disease outbreak is so far. [7730]

Mr. Morley: Expenditure on the foot and mouth disease outbreak by my Department currently stands at some £1.531 billion. Costings are being collected from other Government Departments, and we hope to be in a position to be able to provide such information soon.

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if she will take steps to reduce the time taken to lift the D notice restrictions; [6667]

Mr. Morley: Our primary objective is to eradicate the disease. However, every effort is made to lift the three kilometre zones (the protection zones) as soon as possible after the fieldwork has been completed and negative blood tests have been confirmed.

Where there are a number of infected premises in an area and protection zones overlap then it may be necessary to carry out all the testing required within a particular cluster of protection zones before any Form D restrictions can be lifted.

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations have been made to the Governments of other countries which have suffered a foot and mouth outbreak in the last five years. [7761]

Mr. Morley: UK officials regularly discuss such matters with veterinary experts of other countries at the European Union Standing Veterinary Committee, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Office International Des Epizootics.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the risks concerning the control of foot and mouth disease involved in permitting a resumption of hunting with hounds. [9197]

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Alun Michael [holding answer 22 October 2001]: Hunting with dogs is currently prohibited throughout England and Wales as a precaution against the spread of foot and mouth disease. Hunting with dogs takes a variety of forms, all of which pose different levels of foot and mouth disease risk and which therefore require different risk management measures. A veterinary risk assessment on the possible resumption of hunting in foot and mouth disease free counties has been prepared and is currently being considered by Ministers.

Departmental Responsibilities

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her Department's responsibilities are in relation to land use, planning and management. [7878]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 15 October 2001]: My Department has wide-ranging responsibilities to ensure that land is managed and developed sustainably. The Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions has overall responsibility for policies on planning. DTLR consults DEFRA on environmental and rural aspects of the planning system, including on how these should be reflected in national planning policy guidance.

DEFRA advises on key planning and related issues that involve farming and wider rural economy and environmental interests. DEFRA works with Regional Planning Bodies and other stakeholders on Regional Planning Guidance and local development plan policies. Consultation with DEFRA is governed by the terms of national planning guidance and a statutory right to consultation.

Sheep Strategy

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the Government plan to publish their sheep strategy. [6663]

Mr. Morley: The Government have no plans to publish a separate strategy for the sheep sector at this stage. The independent Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food, announced on 9 August by the Prime Minister, will be advising how we create a sustainable, competitive and diverse farming and food chain.

Supermarkets

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with supermarkets about their relationship with suppliers; and if she will make a statement. [6611]

Mr. Morley: There are regular discussions with the supermarkets on all aspects of the food chain. The issue of relations with suppliers was considered in detail. The issue was considered in detail by the Competition Commission in their report on the supply of groceries from multiple stores. One of the recommendations of that report was that a code of practice should be introduced to put relations between supermarkets and their suppliers on a clearer and more predictable basis. A draft code has been drawn up by the Office of Fair Trading in

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consultation with supermarkets and representatives of suppliers. This is currently being considered by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.


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