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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to record centrally (a) the number of people employed in border inspection posts and (b) where they are deployed. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 8 November 2001]: The inspection services at the border inspection post (BIP) are the responsibility of the local authority and it is for the appropriate local authority to deploy inspection staff at the BIP in response to the volume and nature of products imported through the BIP. For this reason the exact number of inspectors engaged in checking imports can vary from day to day. Any centrally held figure would therefore be accurate only on the day it was collected. Central Government have no powers to instruct the local authority over the number of inspectors.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures she is taking to draw up a National Contingency Plan in relation to foot and mouth disease. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 1 November 2001]: Contingency plans are held and regularly reviewed by the Regional Operations Directors who have been put in place to deal with the current foot and mouth disease outbreak. The plans are kept under review and up-dated as necessary in the light of the latest disease situation. They are based on the continued adherence to and rigorous enforcement of the existing control strategies, including tight biosecurity, and take the form of working documents that have to be refined in the light of any new developments including up to date epidemiological advice.
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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has recently received from Professor Fred Brown regarding new technologies in the diagnosis of foot and mouth disease. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 19 October 2001]: The Department last had contact with Professor Brown some months ago when he proposed the use of new portable technology, a portable SmartCycler, in the diagnosis of foot and mouth. This equipment has been tested at Pirbright against the laboratory-based testing system and results compared.
Early findings indicate that the tests carried out within the laboratory are more accurate as they are able to identify borderline positive samples. This has been crucial in the fight against this outbreak. The technology test itself is quicker than the laboratory by two hours, but in its current form it is not suitable for large scale testing in the field. This is because there are a number of practical considerations which might lead to contamination of samples which are tested in the field. Further work on the validation of the test, the assay procedures and "real time" comparisons with the laboratory system is being carried out. We are always keen to encourage new technology in this area and willing to co-operate in development and validation whenever we have the facility available and it is practical to do so.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received requesting a public inquiry into the origins of the foot and mouth outbreak and the measures taken to control it. 
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what was the average daily fee and commission paid to (a) valuers, (b) slaughtermen and (c) vets for their work in the slaughter of herds owing to FMD between March and October. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 2 November 2001]: The precise information requested cannot be provided except at disproportionate cost. Information on the fee structure is as follows: (a) valuers are paid 1 per cent. of valuation subject to a daily minimum of £500 and daily maximum of £1,500; (b) slaughtermen are paid at or around a headage rate of £2.50 per bovine and £1.00 per sheep, pig or goat; and (c) temporary veterinary inspectors are engaged at a daily rate of £250.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what standard operating procedures based upon previous outbreaks had been established by MAFF to deal with foot and mouth. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 16 November 2001]: Comprehensive veterinary instructions and procedures have been in existence for some years. These are developed in the light of outbreaks of disease (not only foot and mouth) and are continually reviewed and
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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures she is taking to ensure the effective monitoring of progress by local authorities on the implementation of plans to improve air quality. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 1 November 2001]: Local authorities have a key role to play in improving air quality, and we recognise the importance of monitoring closely the progress that they are making. We have issued guidance to local authorities on preparing air quality action plans, and authorities are required to consult us on all draft plans as they emerge. We will consider these carefully, and offer formal comments as appropriate. Once air quality action plans are in place, we will monitor their effectiveness through our national air quality monitoring network, as well as by overseeing the results of local authorities' own future reviews and assessments of air quality. Where insufficient progress is being made, we have the power under section 85 of the Environment Act 1995 to issue directions to local authorities, requiring them to do more.
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 1 November 2001]: The Government's plans for future reviews of air quality standards and objectives were set out in Chapter 6 ("Next Steps") of the Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, published in January 2000. The Government's air quality standards are based on the advice of the expert panel on air quality standards (EPAQS), and are reviewed as and when necessary in the light of scientific and other developments in the UK and elsewhere. EPAQS's work programme is regularly revised to take account of emerging developments, including new advice from the World Health Organisation and the European Commission.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to widen the membership of the expert panel on air quality standards and to review its remit; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 1 November 2001]: The Government recognise the need to widen the membership of the expert panel on air quality standards (EPAQS). We are, for example, taking urgent steps to recruit at least one lay member onto the panel. EPAQS remit will be revised and updated following discussions at the Air Quality forum (a stakeholder group which advises the Government on air quality policies) earlier this year. A copy of the remit and a list of the current members is available via the Department's website. http://www.defra.gov.uk/
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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to identify the long-term effects of nitrogen dioxide emissions on human health. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 1 November 2001]: The Department of Health has recently issued a call for research proposals which includes a request for a review of the effects of long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide on health. In addition, the World Health Organisation will be reviewing the health effects of nitrogen dioxide in the next couple of years. The Government will assess the implications of these reviews when they have been completed, and will take full account of them in shaping any policy objectives for nitrogen dioxide that are set after that time.
In 1999 the Ministry of Agriculture hosted a seminar which led to the creation of the National Association of Farmers' Markets (NAFM). The NAFM acts as the 'umbrella' body for farmers' markets and plays a key role in protecting and advancing their interests at a national level. We awarded NAFM grant under the Agricultural Development Scheme towards its training, accreditation and marketing programmes. More recently we have provided funding to help NAFM re-launch farmers' markets in the wake of the foot and mouth outbreak.
Earlier this year we co-sponsored the Local Government Association Guide on Farmers' Markets. The Guide is intended to disseminate good practice for local authorities hosting farmers' markets and provides a range of information, help and advice.
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