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Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her Department's contingency plans for an outbreak of brucellosis. [45840]

Mr. Morley: The emphasis of the Department's approach to controlling outbreaks of brucellosis is the regular statutory testing of both dairy and beef herds to ensure that Great Britain maintains its brucellosis free status.

All dairy herds are tested monthly using the bulk milk tank test. If there is a positive result, blood samples are taken from all cattle in the herd and tested. Blood samples are taken from all adult breeding cattle in 50 per cent. of the national beef herd every year. This far exceeds the requirements of EC Directive 64/432. Under the Brucellosis (England) Order 2000, and equivalent legislation in Scotland and Wales, there is a statutory requirement for farmers to report abortions and premature calvings to the Local Animal Health Office of DEFRA. Investigative tests are then carried out.

To lessen the risk that brucellosis might be imported during the controlled restocking of farms following the foot and mouth disease epidemic, my Department has issued instructions to introduce even tighter surveillance and control for brucellosis under the cattle tracing system. All imported female cattle will be targeted for testing at strategic points. Reports are generated in the event of calving, absence of notified calving when a female reaches 30 months and when no calving has been registered for females over 30 months within 12 months of import. These reports are then followed up and testing carried out accordingly.

If an animal tests positive, it will be slaughtered with compensation and the rest of the herd will be placed under movement restrictions while further confirmatory testing is carried out. A veterinary investigation into the cause of the positive blood test result will be initiated immediately and movements on to and off the affected premises will be traced. It usually takes up to three weeks to confirm whether or not the animal was infected. In the event that brucellosis is confirmed contact herds will be tested. If

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the veterinary investigation reveals that some contact animals are at risk, these will also be slaughtered. This may involve the slaughter of all the affected herd. This strategy worked when one case of imported brucellosis was confirmed in Great Britain in 1993.

Livestock Movements

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the Government plan to remove the restrictions for hauliers on the collection of livestock from more than one farm for transport to market. [46199]

Mr. Morley: Multiple pick-ups are permitted for livestock movements subject to conditions. They are limited to five farms per trip and may only take place at premises which have prior approval to operate as a pick-up site. Further details of the conditions that apply to multiple pick-ups and drop-offs are available at index.htm.

Noxious Smells

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice and guidance she has issued to local authorities concerning the exercise of their powers to control remissions into the atmosphere of noxious smells. [46204]

Mr. Meacher: Local authorities have powers to control smells which are a statutory nuisance under Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. No guidance has been issued to authorities in relation to these powers.

Local authorities also regulate smells as part of their responsibilities under Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to control air pollution from a range of industrial processes (Local Air Pollution Control). The Government issue a series of statutory guidance notes for local authorities on what constitute the Best Available Techniques Not Entailing Excessive Cost for minimising air emissions from a range of industrial processes. Odour is addressed in these guidance notes where appropriate. The notes are all published and are listed on my Department's website lapc/default.htm. A programme to review all the guidance notes is under way, and draft revisions can be found either on the DEFRA website or on the Environment Agency's website ( ?version=1), depending on the stage of progress.

An additional guidance note was issued to local authorities by my Department in January this year reminding them that their responsibilities under Part I of the 1990 Act included the control of air emissions which may not cause a local nuisance.

Foot and Mouth

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if the sheep at Hawnby were tested for the foot and mouth (a) virus and (b) antibody before restocking; and if she will make a statement. [40701]

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Mr. Morley [holding answer 5 March 2002]: All animals used for controlled restocking must come from farms which have been inspected and found free from foot and mouth disease (FMD).

Two of the three farms which restocked the Hawnby premises had on previous occasions tested antibody negative for foot and mouth disease in November 2001 and October 2001. Testing for virus did not take place.

At the time of restocking in 2002, there was no requirement for pre-movement testing to be carried out as all counties had achieved FMD-free status.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs where the Hawnby sheep originally came from; and what steps she is taking to test the original flock for foot and mouth. [40700]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 5 March 2002]: Three farms provided sheep to restock the Hawnby premises. They were in the Bosall, Helmsley and Hawnby areas of North Yorkshire. At the time the Hawnby sheep came under suspicion on 26 February, the source farms were immediately placed under Form D restrictions and a Veterinary Clinical Inspection was carried out on the stock.

No signs of foot and mouth disease were found.

Restrictions remained in place until after the restrictions on the Hawnby flock were lifted following negative results. There was no basis for further testing on the farms of sheep origin.

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the value is of outstanding claims for foot and mouth disease compensation from Scotland. [44367]

Mr. Morley: All claims from Scottish farmers for compensation for compulsorily slaughtered livestock have been paid amounting to £161.5 million. 136 valuations, on which compensation has been paid totalling around £32 million, are the subject of disputes lodged by the farmer. Two disputed claims to the value of £360,599 have been settled.


Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the (a) shire districts, (b) metropolitan districts, (c) unitary authorities and (d) London boroughs which lie, wholly or in part, (i) more than 50 miles from and (ii) more than 90 minutes' journey time from a licensed abattoir or slaughterhouse. [40974]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

The Food Standards Agency does not hold information on the siting of licensed abattoirs in the format requested. However, I have arranged for lists of licensed red and white meat abattoirs, arranged by county and local authority respectively, to be placed in the Library of the House.

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Mr. Lidington: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people were sentenced to imprisonment in (a) 1999–2000, (b) 2000–01 and (c) 2001–02 to date following the completion of VAT criminal prosecutions; what was the sum total of custodial sentences imposed in each year; and if he will make a statement. [12216]

Mr. Boateng [holding answer 6 March 2002]: The number of people sentenced to imprisonment in the year 1999–2000 following the completion of VAT criminal prosecution was 83 and custodial sentences totalling 213 years were imposed.

The number of people sentenced to imprisonment in the year 2000–01 following the completion of VAT criminal prosecutions was 61 and custodial sentences totalling 116 years were imposed.

The figures for the number of people sentenced and the custodial sentences imposed for the current year 2001–02 will not be available before the end of the financial year.

Ms Oona King: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether small businesses which make appropriate arrangements with the VAT Office to spread their VAT payments are liable to a surcharge in addition to their original VAT bill; and whether firms are advised of this surcharge at the time of renegotiation. [44749]

Mr. Boateng: A business which has incurred a surcharge because of a failure to meet VAT obligations, may include that surcharge in any subsequent arrangements made with Customs and Excise to clear their VAT arrears by instalments. Any business which enters into an agreement will remain subject to the default surcharge provisions if subsequent VAT returns or payments of tax due are received late. This is made clear in correspondence issued by customs when they confirm such payment arrangements.

However, following changes announced in the Chancellor's autumn statement when small businesses start to have difficulties in meeting VAT obligations, they are first offered advice and support, rather than incurring automatic surcharges.

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to ensure that VAT on hot take-away food is charged in a uniform way across different types of retail outlets. [45137]

Mr. Boateng: There have been no changes to the VAT treatment of hot take-away food. Customs and Excise plan to issue further advice to confirm that hot take-away food is VAT standard rated, regardless of the type of retail outlet that supplies it.

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