|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanisms have been put in place on the resumption of the live animal export trade to ensure the protection of the animals from cruelty. 
12 Feb 2002 : Column 272W
Mr. Morley: The Government will continue to operate a twin track policy to protect the welfare of animals exported from the UK. We ensure that the rules are met while animals are within our jurisdiction and encourage other EU member states to give enforcement the same high priority. We have raised this with the European Commission and hope to see the point reflected in proposals later this year, to update and improve the current EU rules on the welfare of animals during transport.
All consignments of animals intended for export are subject to veterinary inspection in the 24 hours before loading. EU rules on health certification were amended in 2001 to include a mandatory assessment of the fitness of the animals for the journey. Consignors must complete a route plan showing how the intended journey will comply with statutory requirements for provision of feed, water and rest and maximum journey times. The pre-export check must be carried out at the farm of origin or at an approved assembly centre.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures she has taken to increase the amount spent on flood defences in 200304 to the levels necessary to meet her Department's standards of service. 
Mr. Morley: Funding for the Department's programme for investing in flood warning arrangements and flood and coastal defences is increasing from £66 million in 200001 to £114 million in 200304. Funding for future years will be considered in the spending review process.
I have encouraged operating authorities to identify priority sites where flood and coastal erosion risk can be reduced and to submit plans so that available funds will be fully utilised to reduce that risk.
The Department's indicative standards of protection for flood and coastal defence schemes are provided as an aid to operating authorities to help in establishing the range of options to be considered. They do not represent any entitlement to protection or a minimum level to be achieved. The economic criteria for appraising schemes are that (a) the benefits outweigh the costs and (b) the most economically efficient option, commensurate with achieving an appropriate level of protection, is identified.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures she has taken to cap premiums imposed by insurance companies on homeowners in high-risk flood areas. 
Mr. Morley: The Government do not intervene in price-setting by insurance companies. It is for the commercial judgment of individual insurance companies to set premiums according to their assessment of risk. We and the Environment Agency are working with the insurance industry so that companies have full information on the action taken to reduce flood risk so as to allow informed decisions. It remains the mutual aim of the Government and the insurance industry to ensure that affordable flood cover is available as widely as possible.
12 Feb 2002 : Column 273W
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what agricultural shows licences farmers need to apply for; and what are the regulations governing animals at such shows. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 6 February 2002]: Agricultural shows are very important to rural communities and we hope that they will be able to go ahead later this year subject to biosecurity conditions. On 5 February, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Lord Whitty of Camberwell announced details of the rules on animal movements that will operate on an interim basis during 2002. Further information on these new arrangements, including outline rules for movements to and from shows, have been made available in the Library of the House and posted on the DEFRA website at www.defraweb/footandmouth/movements/ mainindex.htm. We hope to publish further details specifically on the conditions that show organisers will need to meet by the end of the month.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many agricultural shows were cancelled as a consequence of the outbreak of foot and mouth; and how many received financial compensation. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 7 February 2002]: The Department does not hold this information but according to the Association of Agricultural and Show Organisations, in excess of 309 shows are normally held each year and that last year, the vast majority of these were cancelled because of foot and mouth disease.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received from sugar beet farmers about the price of the crop in 200102; and what action she has taken as a result. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 6 February 2002]: The basic price for sugar beet is determined by the relevant Common Agricultural Policy regime. This has kept EU white sugar prices at roughly double world levels for many years. Although the United Kingdom pressed for price reductions in last year's negotiations on renewal of the regime, the levels set by the Agriculture Council in Regulation 1260/01 for the period to 2006 remain broadly unchanged from the previous regime.
Sugar beet farmers have made no specific representations about price for 200102, though they have expressed concern about the sterling/euro exchange rate and about certain difficulties in the harvesting and processing of this year's crop.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the 20-day standstill rule has been amended to apply to animals that have been moved onto the farm and are not already on the farm itself. 
12 Feb 2002 : Column 274W
Mr. Morley [holding answer 6 February 2002]: Veterinary advice is that for biosecurity reasons, the 20-day standstill rule should continue to apply to holdings rather than individual animals although this is kept under review.
A number of exceptions to this rule are being permitted under the livestock movement regime being introduced on 11 February. Any future changes will need to ensure the continued segregation of incoming animals from the rest of the livestock in order to maintain biosecurity.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information technology difficulties have been identified in the operations of the Rural Payments Agency. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 7 February 2002]: We have had no insurmountable problems with IT in the run up to and since the formal launch of the RPA in October, though it is true that we have had some of the difficulties that one must expect when bringing two organisations together. In very brief summary these were:
the need to connect systems based on slightly differing technologies, inherited from MAFF and IB, and to connect each group of people to the other's systems and data;
maintaining old technology in the fact of increasing demand at fewer sites;
accommodating action to deal with foot and mouth at the same time as building the new agency.
Also, action is in hand to provide a unified infrastructural service for the RPA which will supersede the tactical solutions we employed in the short term. Apart from the need to develop a new, more resilient platform for RPA's set of existing operational systems, a key objective is to support a major procurement for the strategic replacement of all the operational claims management systems by the end of 2004.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact on farming of the removal of protected zone status for rhizomania. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 7 February 2002]: Removal of protected zone status for rhizomania should have little impact on the development of the disease for the next five to ten years. Most outbreaks that appear in that time will result from infection which is already present in the soil. The development of the disease thereafter will depend on the actions of growers, contractors and processors, in particular in limiting the movement of soil, the principal means by which the disease is spread. Growers with known outbreaks will benefit from the lifting of statutory restrictions on their farms.
12 Feb 2002 : Column 275W
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what headage payments are available to (a) beef, (b) dairy, (c) sheep and (d) other livestock farmers; what is the value of each payment (i) in aggregate and (ii) per head; and what are the conditions upon which payments depend. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 11 January 2002]: The information requested is as follows. For all schemes the conditions upon which payments depend are detailed in the scheme literature which is sent to producers. Copies of this literature will be placed in the Library of the House.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|