Mr. Morley: All consignments of fresh meat imported into the UK from other EU member states must have been produced in accordance with the harmonised community rules laid down in Council Directive 64/433/EEC. Imports from third countries must have been produced to standards at least equivalent to those in the Directive. Among other things, this Directive sets out the licensing, structural and veterinary supervision requirements to be applied in abattoirs, cutting plants and cold stores.
All meat imported into the UK from third countries must enter at designated UK Border Inspection Posts (BIPs) where it is subject to veterinary inspections. All consignments are subject to documentary and identity checks and at least 20 per cent. of consignments undergo physical checks. These ensure import conditions are met and that the products remain in a satisfactory condition during transport. In line with community rules, random spot checks at destination may be carried out on consignments of fresh meat imported into the UK from other EU member states.
New arrangements have been introduced across all enforcement agencies involved to improve the sharing and analysis of information about known or suspected illegal imports. We are building up a database of details which is enabling us to target enforcement action and to make best use of available resources. Our national regulations have also been amended to assist local authorities in seizing suspected illegal imports when they are found at point of sale. The Food Standards Agency is also encouraging local authorities to ensure that checking for illegal imports is part of their routine inspection of food premises.
Alongside this we have introduced improved publicity to ensure that travellers are aware of the restrictions on what may be imported. Posters have been placed at main airports and we have asked UK travel agents and airlines using UK airports to make information about import controls available to travellers. Recognising that it is most effective to inform travellers before they leave for their journey to the UK, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been active via British Embassies abroad, providing information directly to travellers and via travel agents and local media.
We are keeping these measures under review and will make improvements as necessary. In addition, we are looking at a wide range of other options to ensure the rules on imports are enforced effectively and efficiently. These include, for example, the possible use of sniffer dogs and X-ray machines at ports and airports.
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Mr. Morley: I have received a number of representations from auctioneers and the livestock industry. I am keeping the position of livestock markets under review in the light of the developing disease situation.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the prospects for beef exports to (a) Germany, (b) the Netherlands, (c) Italy and (d) France; and how many United Kingdom plants are qualified to export beef. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 15 November 2001]: It is not possible to make a realistic assessment of future prospects because recovery of our beef exports depends on many factors including the number of plants which seek approval to export under the Date-based Export Scheme (DBES); the conditions of DBES; the results of our BSE testing programme; consumer confidence in the countries concerned and currency values. In addition, prospects for beef exports to France depend on the outcome of the Commission's ECJ case which is expected shortly.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the (a) functions performed, (b) numbers of staff employed for each function and (c) proportion of staff coming from the former (i) Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and (ii) Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions for each function, in her Department. 
Mr. Morley: The number of staff employed by function as at 1 October is listed. The figures given include staff employed to deal with foot and mouth disease and those who were in the process of transferring to the Rural Payments Agency, but exclude all other Executive Agencies of the Department. Staff who have joined DEFRA since its creation are included in the percentage for MAFF.
|Agriculture and Food
|Environment, Rural and Regional Services
|Animal Health (including State Veterinary Services)
|European Union and International Policy
|Economics and Statistics
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Mr. Morley: Information about numbers of ministerial appointments to public bodies is included in the Cabinet Office's annual report, "Public Bodies". Copies of this are placed in the Library of the House and the report is published on the Cabinet Office's internet website. The next edition of "Public Bodies", which will include numbers of appointments at 31 March 2001, will be published around the end of the year.
During the period 7 June 2001 to 31 October 2001, my Department made 33 ministerial appointments to public bodies. This figure includes 13 reappointments. The total number of appointments, which are currently within the gift of DEFRA Ministers, is 781.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list, in real terms, for each year since 1979 (a) the total sums of money spent directly by her Department in Scotland and (b) the total sums of money allocated by her Department for spending in Scotland through (i) the Scottish Office, (ii) the Scotland Office and (iii) the Scottish Executive. 
Mr. Cawsey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will implement the European Commission's decision of 16 October 2000 relating to imports of wild caught birds. 
Mr. Morley: Commission Decision 2000/666/EC of 16 October 2000 lays down new harmonised animal health rules for the import of captive birds into the EU from third countries. The decision came into force on 1 November this year. We notified interested parties on 6 June and 6 November this year of the new arrangements we have put in place for the import of captive birds (including birds taken directly from the wild for approved conservation programmes) from both third countries and EU member states.
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has taken of the views of the Royal Society in determining her policy in respect of the rearing of genetically modified fish. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 15 October 2001]: In their report on "The Use of Genetically Modified Animals", published on 21 May 2001, the Royal Society endorsed the recommendation of the Royal Society of Canada for a moratorium on the rearing of GM fish in aquatic net-pens, with approval for commercial production being conditional on the rearing of the fish in land-locked facilities.
The keeping and rearing of GM fish is already tightly controlled. They must be kept in secure containment in land based tanks with suitable precautions to preclude escape. The keeping of GM fish in nets, tanks or cages in the sea or in rivers, lakes or streams would constitute a release to the environment and is prohibited under EU legislation without prior consent from the relevant authority. Any application to keep GM fish in such circumstances would have to be underpinned by a detailed risk assessment and would be considered on a case-by- case basis. Applicants would be required to demonstrate that there would be no adverse effects on human health or the environment arising from the activity. Given these requirements it is difficult to envisage any circumstances in which we would permit such a release.