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State Veterinary Service

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the Scotland Office on the devolution of powers and functions of the State Veterinary Service to the control of the Scottish Executive. [46396]

Mr. Morley: There have been no such discussions. Responsibility for animal health is devolved to the Scottish Parliament and the relationship between the State Veterinary Service and Scottish Ministers is outlined in the concordat with the Scottish Executive.

Wind Speeds

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent changes have taken place in respect of recording wind speeds and directions at the horticultural research station at Efford; and if she will make a statement. [45954]

Mr. Morley: Horticulture Research International informs me that it had been providing the Meteorology Office with wind speed measurements using cup-counter anemometers at its Efford site. The Meteorology Office has now discontinued the use of data from low-level counters of the type used by HRI. We understand that this change has been discussed with HRI who have agreed.

New Forest

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many representations have been received regarding the inclusion of (a) Fordingbridge and (b) Milford on Sea within the designated boundary for the proposed New Forest national park. [46265]

Alun Michael: As at 26 March, 46 representations have been received regarding the inclusion of Fordingbridge within the boundary of the proposed New Forest national park and 54 on the inclusion of Milford on Sea.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her procedure and timetable for designating the New Forest as a national park. [46266]

Alun Michael: The New Forest National Park (Designation) Order 2002 was submitted by the Countryside Agency to the Secretary of State in late February and was on deposit for public comment until 25 March. The objections and representations received are being considered and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will decide shortly whether or not to confirm the Order or to call a public inquiry. If the Order were confirmed, it would take about a year to establish a national park authority. If a public inquiry were called, this would start in the autumn. Depending on the length of the inquiry, it could be 2004 before the Order was confirmed and 2005 before a national park authority was set up.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to designate the New Forest as access land within the terms of the provisions of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000; and if she will make a statement. [46264]

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Alun Michael: I understand that the Countryside Agency expects to issue a draft map of open country and registered common land for the south of England, including the New Forest, later this year. Following consultation on the draft map, the agency will issue provisional and then conclusive maps. Part of the New Forest will be land to which there is an existing right of access under section 193 of the Law of Property Act 1925: the new right under the 2000 Act will not apply to such land. The Forestry Commission has already announced its intention in principle to dedicate the national forestry estate under section 16 of the 2000 Act.

Laying Hens

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if egg producers will be permitted to beak trim chickens intended for laying up to a maximum of 10 days of age, where carried out by qualified staff. [45315]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 26 March 2002]: Council Directive 99/74/EC prohibits all mutilation but permits member states to authorise beak trimming provided it is carried out by qualified staff on chickens that are less than 10 days old and intended for laying. It is intended that the directive will be implemented in England without being added to in any way. An implementing SI will shortly be presented to Parliament.

Animal Health

Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government are taking to develop an animal health strategy; and to what extent this strategy is based on (a) the promotion of health and (b) the treatment and prevention of disease. [46636]

Mr. Morley: Work is already in hand to develop some aspects of an animal health strategy. In particular work on a strategy for veterinary surveillance was interrupted by the FMD epidemic, but has now been resumed; a draft strategy for surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in animals was published on 12 February; a programme of work to tackle illegal imports is being developed; plans for the improvement of cattle tracing systems and for identification and tracing of other livestock are being developed; and the Government are already consulting on changes to the rules on animal welfare. The Government have commissioned Royal Society and Lessons Learned inquiries into the FMD epidemic which will inform the animal health strategy when they are available later this year.

The strategy will be developed in conjunction with stakeholders, as it will include the promotion of biosecurity measures which are conducive to good health and the prevention of animal disease.

Treatment of animal disease will generally remain a matter for the individual choice of animal owners and their veterinary surgeons, except where the disease is subject to statutory control.

Water Pollution

Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the level of pesticide residues found in fresh

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water in the UK which comes from (a) agrochemicals used in farming and (b) products used by organic farmers to control insect pests. [46637]

Mr. Morley: The Environment Agency is responsible for monitoring ground and surface waters for pesticides in England and Wales. A summary of the results is published by the agency; the most recent publication is called 'Pesticides 2000'. The 180 different pesticide active substances monitored do not include any insecticides used by organic farmers. Even if these compounds were to be included in the monitoring programme, most are also used in conventional farming and it would be impossible to identify whether a particular finding in water arose from a particular pattern of farming.

Agricultural Employees

Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many agricultural employees there are per hectare on (a) organic and (b) non-organic farmland. [46628]

Mr. Morley: While the Farm Business Survey does collect limited data on organic farmland, the sample size for organic farms is too small to enable reliable comparisons with non-organic farmland to be made.

Organic Food

Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of baby food consumed in the UK was organically produced in (a) 1990, (b) 1995 and (c) 2000. [46620]

Mr. Morley: Information published in the MINTEL report—Baby Food and Drinks—October 2000 is as follows:

UK retail sales of organic baby food as a percentage of total baby food and drink market

YearPercentage
19951.6
19962.3
19972.7
19983.4
19997.5
2000(71)10.6

(71) Estimate


Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of organic food sold in the UK in (a) 1987, (b) 1992, (c) 1997 and (d) 2002 was grown in the UK. [46631]

Mr. Morley: Official figures on the split between organic and non-organic food produced in the UK are not available.

However, the following table based on estimates produced by the Soil Association in their Organic Food and Farming Report 2001, shows the proportion of organic sales that are produced in the UK.

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Percentage of organic sales produced in the UK
Dairy products65
Meat55
Fruit and vegetables15
Cereals(72)20
Eggs90

(72) And baked products.


Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department is taking to (a) collect organic food market and production data and (b) track developments in the organic market. [46641]

Mr. Morley: The forthcoming June Agricultural Census will identify farms with organic production or in conversion to organic status. There are also plans to improve the collection of organic data within the Farm Business Survey. Information from other organisations, including the Soil Association, will continue to be used to monitor developments in the organic sector. Further developments on the collection of organic data by the Department will be considered as part of our statistical planning process, but will need to balance the requirements for the information with the additional burdens imposed on survey respondents.

Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total value was of the organic retail market in the UK in (a) 1987, (b) 1992, (c) 1997 and (d) 2002. [46630]

Mr. Morley: Information is not available for earlier years. It is estimated that the retail value of the UK organic food market was of the order of £100 million in 1993–94, £200 million in 1996–97 and £800 million in 2000–01.


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