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Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action the Government have taken to tackle European foul brood disease; and what estimate she has made of its prevalence in England. [42378]

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Mr. Morley: The Government assist the UK beekeeping sector by funding a range of measures to protect bee health, costing around £1.6 million in 2001–02. In England, the bee health programme costs some £1.3 million annually, and is administered by the National Bee Unit (NBU), part of the Central Science Laboratory.

European foul brood (EFB) is a notifiable disease under the Bee Diseases Control Order 1982. All new suspected cases have to be reported. In 2001, 816 colonies in 350 apiaries in England were found to be infected with EFB. Colonies too heavily infected to respond to treatment are destroyed. Lightly infected colonies are treated with antibiotic by field inspectors of the NBU.

In addition, NBU has been conducting trials for the long-term control of the disease without the need for destruction of bees. The results to date are encouraging. The Department is also funding research under its Horticulture LINK programme to develop a method of biological control of EFB. The NBU also provides regional and national training in good husbandry, disease recognition and control for all beekeepers in England.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what action she is taking (a) to promote British honey and (b) to publicise the safety and quality of the British product; [42382]

Mr. Morley: The promotion of locally produced British honey is a matter for the industry itself. However, honey producers are able to benefit form the trade development and marketing services provided by the regional food groups which the Department supports through Food from Britain. Honey producers may also be eligible for grants under the England Rural Development Programme (ERDP). Two measures are of particular relevance to them. These are the Rural Enterprise Scheme measure on the marketing of quality agricultural products, which provides largely non-capital grants for marketing initiatives, and the Processing and Marketing Grant which provides capital grants for processing and marketing facilities. These grants are run competitively on a regional basis.

The safety and quality of British honey is a matter for the Food Standards Agency.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of honey sold in the UK is imported; and what proportion comes from China. [42381]

Mr. Morley: The table shows UK supply and imports of honey between 1999 and 2001. It also shows the proportion of total UK imports that came from China during this period.


UK supply26,29925,51427,603
Total imports23,18124,10825,279
Total imports as a percentage of UK supply889492
Imports from China10,40011,04410,640
Imports from China as a percentage of total imports454642


HM Customs and Excise and DEFRA Supply Balance Sheets

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Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps her Department has taken in the last five years to destroy honey that has been found to have a significant risk of being contaminated by antibiotics and other dangerous substances; [42380]

Mr. Morley: All consignments of products of animal origin, including honey, currently imported from third countries into the UK are subjected to a documentary check of the veterinary certification and an identity check to match the goods to the certification. A percentage of consignments are also subjected to a physical check, which may include organoleptic checks, temperature checks and laboratory tests for pathogens or contaminants. In the case of honey 50 per cent. of consignments are so checked.

Where import checks reveal that any product of animal origin does not comply with Community import conditions it is rejected or destroyed. Figures relating to products destroyed are not kept centrally.

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate has been sampling honey on sale since 1995. No samples contained residues of antibiotics or other substances which posed a significant risk to consumers. Therefore, no honey was required to be destroyed. All results have been reported in the VMD Annual Report on Residue Surveillance and its quarterly newsletter, MAVIS.

Following a recent European Commission inspection visit to China, which revealed concerns about antibiotic residues, the EU has banned the importation of all animal products from China with effect from 13 March 2002. As a result the FSA carried out tests on a number of samples of Chinese and blended honey on sale in the UK. They found that most contained antibiotic residues, but at a level which scientific experts do not consider poses a risk to public health.


Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures her Department has taken to encourage (a) producers and (b) distributors of not-in-kind refrigerants to tender for contracts for the refurbishment of Government buildings; and what (i) communications and (ii) meetings officials of her Department have had with prospective not-in-kind suppliers. [41183]

Mr. Meacher: The Department's Greening Government website provides advice to both civil servants and suppliers on a whole range of environmental issues including the use of refrigerants. The Green Guide for Buyers for example calls for the specification of systems free of refrigerants that deplete the ozone layer and, where it is safe, cost effective and technically feasible to do so, also free of substances that have a high global warming potential. The website has been widely promoted at conferences and in journals. It's URL is "http://defraweb/ environment/greening/gghome.htm". Our estate managers do not hold meetings with prospective "not-in-kind" suppliers, preferring to leave this to our consultants

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and contractors who possess the necessary expertise. However, policy officials did meet several suppliers of 'not-in-kind' refrigerants during 2001.

Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will indicate what her understanding is of whether sections of Article 1 of EC Regulation 2037/2000 as agreed on 29 June 2000, apply to ozone-depleting substances used in refrigerator door insulation material. [39995]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 18 March 2002]: The UK Government's interpretation of Article 1 of EC Regulation 2037–2000 is that it sets out the scope of the legislation and lists the substances that it controls, as well as making clear that it applies to the production, importation, exportation, placing on the market, use, recovery, recycling and reclamation and destruction of these substances. This includes those used for the blowing of insulating foam for refrigeration equipment and to certain activities relating to products and equipment containing those substances.

Dioxin Formation and Emission

Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what guidance is given to operators of waste incinerators on ways of reducing dioxin formation and emission; [34520]

Mr. Meacher: Design and operational techniques for minimisation of dioxin formation and emission at waste incinerators are detailed in the Integrated Pollution Control Waste Incineration Guidance Note S2 5.01 issued by the Environment Agency in 1996.

Important factors in these techniques include temperature, combustion gas turbulence conditions and the time the waste materials spend in the combustion process.

The Agency is currently updating this guidance note and I understand that an early consultation draft has been placed on the Agency's website.


Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when she will given a substantive answer to the question from the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight, ref. 12919, tabled on 6 November, relating to HF Holidays; [17803]

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Mr. Morley [holding answer 5 February 2002]: My right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Rural Affairs responded on 26 February to the letters of 20 June and 27 July 2001 from HF Holidays and the hon. Member's letter of 15 August 2001.

I apologise for the time taken to respond to these letters.

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