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Department/EU Liaison

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many employees there are who (a) monitor and (b) liaise with EU commissioners and parliamentarians in (i) her Department and (ii) the Environment Agency, broken down into those who focus on these issues as their (A) main and (B) partial roles; and if she will make a statement. [64787]

Mr. Morley: The information requested is not held centrally by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much Scottish lamb has been exported to each member country of the European Union in each of the last five years. [65116]

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Mr. Morley: The Overseas Trade Statistics for the UK do not separately identify exports of Scottish lamb. The table gives the volume and value of exports of total UK sheep meat to the rest of the EU in each of the last five years.

'000 tonnes£ million

(5) Data is provisional and subject to amendment.


HM Customs and Excise

Data prepared by Statistics (Commodities and Food) Accounts and Trade, ESD, DEFRA

2001 data is provisional and subject to amendment.

Public Buildings

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how her Department is meeting the objectives of the Better Public Buildings Initiative. [65071]

Mr. Morley: DEFRA has demonstrated commitment to the Better Public Buildings initiative by publishing an Action Plan on the Departmental intranet. The quality of the Department's limited programme of new projects is benchmarked against the objectives and commitments set out within it.

I have personally sponsored two projects, one of which has been entered for the Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award. Another recent project has been commended for its design by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.

DEFRA will keep its Better Public Buildings Action Plan under review and proposes to adopt the Design Quality Indicator System for the measurement of overall design standards.

Animal Welfare

Mr. Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what inspections her officials have made of the motor vessel Kalifeh 1 to assess its suitability for the transport of live farm animals; when inspections were made; what the outcome was of the inspections; and what such inspections her officials will conduct. [65406]

Mr. Morley: The vessel mv Kalifeh 1 has been inspected twice by DEFRA officials to assess its suitability for the transport of live animals:

The vessel was also inspected by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Northern Ireland before it was allowed to transport sheep from Northern Ireland in December 2001.

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All specialist livestock vessels are inspected for their suitability to transport animals prior to the first transport of animals from GB. Additional spot checks are made as appropriate to the continued use of the vessel.

TB Infected Reactors

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the (a) minimum, (b) maximum and (c) average lengths of time it has taken to remove TB infected reactors from each county that has had a breakdown over the last year. [65010]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 27 June 2002]: The data requested are given in the table.

The (a) minimum, (b) maximum and (c) average lengths of time it has taken to remove TB-infected reactors from farms in each county that has had a breakdown, between 21 June 2001 and 20 June 2002

Time(7) (days)
Region(6) and countyNumber of observationsMinimumMaximumAverage
Hereford and Worcester1891(8)18825.9
East Sussex11102613.1
North Yorkshire46158.5
West Glamorgan2259057.5

(6) Geographical boundaries are as used for bovine TB control.

(7) Time between date of reading the tuberculin test and date of slaughter.

(8) These figures represent cases where animals became reactors in the month before the disruption of normal TB control procedures caused by foot and mouth disease.


The TB-infected reactors reported are animals with a reaction to the tuberculin test that were compulsorily slaughtered and had samples submitted to VLA for microbiology. Provided that they (a) had lesions of TB visible at the slaughterhouse, and/or (b) VLA found the TB organism in the sample.

The time reported represents the number of days between reading the skin test and removing an animal from the farm. During this time, animals are valued and arrangements are made for transport, slaughter at an abattoir, etc.

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Village Halls (Disabled Access)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with (a) the Association for Communities in Rural England and (b) rural community councils on the subject of the impact of disability legislation on village halls. [65027]

Alun Michael: I have not been asked for such discussions. I am sure that individual rural community councils and their Association, with which I have regular contact, are well aware of the legislation which was put in place some seven years ago. The direct responsibility will be with the owners of specific facilities which will include independent village hall committees or, in some cases, parish or town councils or local authorities.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on what help is being made available to village hall committees to cope with the implications of new disability legislation. [65026]

Alun Michael: The relevant legislation is not new and it is some seven years since the passage of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Time was allowed for organisations to meet the requirements of the Act.

Since December 1996 it has been unlawful for service providers to treat disabled people less favourably for a reason related to their disability. And from 1 October 1999 service providers have been required to make reasonable adjustments to account for disabled people's needs such as providing extra help or changing the way they provide their services.

From 2004 organisations such as village halls will have to make "reasonable adjustments" to ensure access for disabled people. In any proceedings under the Act, the costs and practicability of any adjustments would be considered in relation to a service provider's ability to pay. The extent to which the adjustment actually improves access to the service and the importance of the service to disabled people would also be taken into account.

A large number of village halls in England already have access and facilities for disabled people although there are older halls that fall short of the requirements of the Act.

There are a number of funds which can assist where appropriate, in addition to the community's own resources, fund raising and any assistance from the parish or town council. Local authorities that can help will include district, county and unitary authorities, depending on the arrangements in a particular locality. The Countryside Agency's Village Hall Loan Fund, administered by Action with Communities in Rural England can provide loans towards improvements for village halls. Loans are available over a period of up to five or eight years but may be longer in special cases where the need for an extended period is substantiated.

The Countryside Agency also can offer assistance to village halls through the community service grants scheme delivered through the Vital Villages programme.

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It can help fund an alteration/extension of a village hall or other community building where this provides a new or extended service to the community.

Other sources of public funding include regional development agencies, the Community Fund and the Sports Council. Many organisations achieve the necessary improvements through a mixture of funds including fund raising, commercial or personal sponsorship, parish council and local authority funding and contributions from other public funds as a result of expanding the activities available if improvements expand the suitability and use of the facilities, for instance for sport, or education or training for young people.

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