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Rat Infestations

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the estimated annual cost was to (a) agriculture and (b) the food industry of damage and losses as the result of rat infestations in the last 10 years. [34066]

Mr. Morley: The data required to estimate such damage and losses are not currently recorded.

Fishing Fleet

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 8 January, 2002 Official Report, column 769W, on the fishing fleet, if she will make a statement on (a) the total estimated discrepancy in kilowatt of power to be rectified on 1 July 2000 as a result of the declarations received from fishing vessels owners on 1 July 2000, (b) the total amount of kilowatt of power outstanding for which owners still have to acquire additional vessel capacity units and (c) the figures resulting from the above in relation to the totals for each of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea areas. [31456]

Mr. Morley: The total engine power discrepancy notified to Fisheries Departments by fishing vessel owners by 1 July 2000 was 50,400kW. As at 31 December 2001 vessel owners had acquired additional vessel capacity units (VCUs) equivalent to approximately 19,800kWs of this discrepancy. This leaves some 30,600kW to be corrected by the purchase of additional VCUs, the deration of engine power or a combination of the two. Vessel owners have until 31 December 2004 to do this. The figures cover the full spectrum of fishing activity. They cannot be broken down by ICES area as British domestic fishing licences authorise fishing in all relevant ICES areas.

Ear-tagging (Sheep)

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the introduction of unique ear-tagging of sheep in improving traceability; and what role the 20 day standstill order has in the overall application of the ear-tagging scheme. [33373]

Mr. Morley: Sheep born or moved from their holding of birth since 1 January 2000 have only been required to bear a flock mark on an eartag or tattoo giving details of that holding of birth. It has not been possible to test the effectiveness of individual or unique identification as this has not been required.

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The 20 day standstill required as part of the current FMD controls is monitored on the basis of batches of sheep moved and not on the identity of individual sheep.


Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on whether Poland has accepted the terms and conditions of the acquis communautaire for fisheries within the negotiations on accession to the European Union. [33385]

Mr. Morley: EU accession negotiations for the Fisheries chapter have been provisionally completed with 10 of the 12 applicant countries. Poland and Malta have yet to conclude negotiations. Both have still to supply the EU with information regarding their preparations for meeting the acquis communautaire and discussion is still underway with the EU on derogations they have requested. It is now expected that the chapter will be concluded in the first half of 2002.

Fishing Gear

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on who is responsible for the initial authorisation of fishing gear to be used outside the Scottish 12 mile limit. [33384]

Mr. Morley: The Scottish Executive is responsible for fisheries management in the Scottish zone of British fisheries limits. This zone extends from the Scottish coast out to the 200 mile limit or to median lines with adjacent countries if that distance is shorter. Fisheries management includes regulation of fishing gear.

Livestock Movements

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the practical implications of the 20 day standstill order for stock breeding livestock farmers wishing to make applications for movement orders; and when she expects to lift the 20 day standstill order on the movement of livestock. [33372]

Mr. Morley: The Interim Regime for Livestock movements, which my noble Friend Lord Whitty announced on 5 February, will retain the 20 day standstill as the default position for movements not specified as exceptions. A significant number of exceptions are now permitted subject to conditions. These relate principally to breeding bulls and pigs, calves, sheep on tack and, as previously, all movements direct to slaughter. These provisions will be kept under review.

IT Contracts

Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what has been the total expenditure of his Department on IT systems and support in each year from May 1997 to date; how many IT contracts have been let in each of those years; of the other main contracting party in each of those contracts, how many have been (a) companies whose registered office is in (i) England and Wales, (ii) Scotland and

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(iii) Northern Ireland, and (b) foreign companies; and what are the names of the companies falling within category (a). [33679]

Mr. Morley: DEFRA came into being in June 2001. Currently there are over 100 centrally managed IT contracts in place and it is expected that the core Department will spend around £61 million on IT systems and support this year, including an element for internal service provision. This sum excludes a contract relating

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to the Radioactive Incident Monitoring Network which I understand will be included in the response by the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions.

To identify the location of registered offices for all main contracting parties would incur disproportionate costs, but a survey of the top 16 contracts, in cost terms (see table), has revealed that the registered office is in England in every case.

Contract details

ContractorRegistered office Description Type of contract Start date
Lason Information Management Ltd.EnglandData capture management servicesService provision agreementAugust 2000
Global CrossingEnglandWide area data networking servicesFrameworkMay 2000
Compuware Ltd.EnglandUniface software licensing and supportSupport agreementApril 2000
International Computers Ltd.EnglandIT supply, maintenance and support servicesFrameworkApril 1999
Sema Group UK Ltd.EnglandApplications development servicesFrameworkApril 1999
Sherwood International Group Ltd.EnglandApplications development servicesFrameworkApril 1999
SAS Software Ltd.EnglandSAS software licencesSupport agreementJanuary 1999
Vodafone Corporate LimitedEnglandMobile communication servicesFramework1998
Computer AssociatesEnglandNetwork licencesSupport agreementMarch 1988
Oracle Corporation UK Ltd.EnglandConsultancy and education servicesService provision agreementMay 1997
Oracle Corporation UK Ltd.EnglandGold software support serviceSupport agreementMay 1997
Fujitsu Siemens Computers Ltd.EnglandUnidata software licensing and supportSupport agreementFebruary 1997
PC World Business DirectEnglandComputer supplies/productsFramework1996
Orion Media Marketing Ltd.EnglandComputer supplies/productsFramework1996
Abacus Direct Marketing and Computer Services Ltd.EnglandProcessor controlled keying servicesService provision agreementJuly 1996
Siemens Communications Ltd.EnglandTelephone systems and servicesFrameworkNovember 1993
British Telecommunications PlcEnglandLeased data circuitsFrameworkMay 1990


Group Lotus (Redundancies)

Mr. Bacon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement concerning the proposed redundancies at Group Lotus in the South Norfolk constituency; and if she will take steps to safeguard the technical research capacity of Group Lotus. [35283]

Mr. Wilson: I regret the announcement made by Group Lotus on 6 February of plans for up to 275 redundancies over the next few months, with the exact numbers to be decided after consultations with staff. However I note that these redundancies represent only 17 per cent. of the total Lotus work force. Recent improvements in manufacturing processes and productivity made by Group Lotus have led to an excess of staff employed in the manufacturing facility and this, together with a short term slowdown in the global market for sports cars, has led to the company's decision.

I am pleased that the highly efficient Lotus car production at Norfolk of the Lotus Elise and Esprit and the GM/Opel roadster will continue at around 5,000 cars per annum. In the long term this continued commitment by Lotus to manufacture high quality niche sports cars will lead to increased sales and profitability. In addition Lotus Engineering, which is largely unaffected, will continue to provide high quality R&D and engineering consultancy services to an increasing number of automotive manufacturing clients. It is estimated that one in 10 of every cars sold in Europe have an engine developed by Lotus.

The UK's automotive design engineering community, of which Lotus is a leading example, is respected internationally for its capability and excellence. Continued success critically depends on staying at the forefront of technological advance. My Department is already helping the sector maintain this world-class position through support for best practice channelled through the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Moreover, direct funding for cutting edge R&D is available through the Foresight Vehicle LINK Programme. Here we are supporting three projects involving Lotus and a number of new Lotus proposals are being considered. The ongoing Foresight Vehicle road-mapping work allows companies such as Lotus to help set the priorities for the next phase of the programme to ensure its continuing relevance to strategic business needs. Furthermore, the Government's draft "Powering Future Vehicles" strategy provides an opportunity for Lotus to help shape thinking over the medium to long term in one of its areas of key competence.

At European level, my Department has actively supported the inclusion of sustainable surface transport technologies in the EC sixth RTD&D Framework Programme, which is scheduled to be launched later this year. There is an indicative budget of about euro 600 million associated with this sub-theme. As with previous Framework Programmes, of which Lotus has been a beneficiary, the Government will establish a number of dedicated National Contact Points to provide information and guidance to prospective participants.

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