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5 Nov 2002 : Column 223Wcontinued
Mr. Morley: The UK Fuel Poverty Strategy, published in November 2001, sets out the approach of the Government and the Devolved Administrations to tackling fuel poverty. It explains that the goal of the Government and the Devolved Administrations is to seek an end to the problem of fuel poverty. In particular they will seek an end to the blight of fuel poverty for vulnerable households by 2010. We are currently consulting on a clarification to the strategy which will set a target for the eradication of fuel poverty in respect of households other than those in the vulnerable categories. The consultation period ends 29 November 2002. We intend to produce an annual report on our progress in implementing the Strategy in the new year.
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Mr. Morley: My Department remains committed to expanding the highly visible mandatory EU energy labelling for appliances and equipment. This also requires the provision of similar consumer information in catalogues and in other product literature which all serve to increase consumer awareness.
We are also encouraging EU-wide voluntary agreements with manufacturers and service providers which aim to set targets for improved products and services and raise awareness of energy efficiency issues. One aspect of this is to provide reliable, public domain consumer environmental information about their products and services via point-of-sale information and searchable product information data- bases.
The Energy Saving Trust, which is funded by my Department, encourages the sustainable use of energy in the domestic and small business sectors. Work includes an Energy Efficiency campaign to encourage domestic consumers to take up energy efficiency measures. The Trust also runs a product endorsement scheme which signposts customers to products that are the mostor among the mostenergy efficient available and aims to increase sales of these products. Products that are accredited under the scheme carry the Energy Efficiency Recommended logo. Decisions about future plans for raising public awareness of energy efficient products and services will be covered in the Energy White Paper, which the Government aims to publish around the turn of the year.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make it her policy to allow local authorities to set targets for the improvement of energy efficiency in stock transferred to registered social landlords. 
Local Authorities are already able to set such targets. The Housing Transfer Guidance 2002 Programme, issued by DTLR in September 2001, expects a local authority to ensure that each transfer proposal agreed with a new landlord delivers the energy efficiency targets that are implicit in the Government's decent homes target (to ensure all social housing is brought up to a decent standard by 2010).
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with HM Treasury on the ways in which economic policies and instruments might be used to assist home energy efficiency. 
Mr. Morley: Defra and HM Treasury have carried out a joint consultation on economic instruments to improve household energy efficiency. The results of thisconsultation will be jointly considered, in the context of the wider process of preparing the Energy White Paper, which the Government aims to publish around the turn of the year. Any decisions on possible tax changes would be a matter for the Chancellor to consider as part of the Budget process.
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Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to develop energy efficiency indicators, targets and monitoring mechanisms for each sector of the economy. 
Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much the United Kingdom spent on assistance to agriculture in the last year for which figures are available; and what assistance was provided from EU sources. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 4 November 2002]: Public expenditure on agriculture in the United Kingdom in the 200001 financial year was #3,042million. The UK received #2,720million from the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy in its 200001 budget year. These figures include payments of market support, which may not have gone directly to farmers, as traders are also eligible.
Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department plans to take on the EU Biofuels Directive; what discussions she has had with those in the agriculture industry on the potential for production and use of non-food crops; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher: Negotiations on the EU biofuels targets Directive are still taking place and are being led by the Department for Transport. It is anticipated that the outcome of the discussions will be a requirement for member states to set indicative targets for the use of biofuels as a transport fuel by July 2005. The Government recognise that liquid biofuels and non-food crops in general have potential for UK agriculture and regular discussions are held with farmers and industry representatives on a wide range of non-food crops issues. The Government-Industry Forum on Non-Food Uses of Crops, which includes representatives from the farming sector, was set up in 2001 to review market opportunities for non-food crops and make recommendations to Government on policy affecting their use. The Forum is looking at several non-food crop applications, including biodiesel and bioethanol.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate her Department has made of the spread of bovine TB to farming areas restocked with cattle following the lifting of movement restrictions imposed after the foot and mouth outbreak last year. 
Mr. Morley: All new incidents of bovine TB in cattle are recorded and subject to epidemiological investigation. The information obtained is added to the epidemiological database of information relating to the incidence of bovine TB in Great Britain.
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Mr. Morley: TB testing is an important element in the control of bovine TB. Reducing the number of overdue TB tests to an acceptable level following the testing backlog built up during the foot and mouth disease outbreak is one of the Department's priorities and an additional #3 million has been made available to the State Veterinary Service in England and Wales this year to help with this.
The uptake of testing is traditionally slower in summer months as cattle are out to pasture. While no specific targets were set for the testing of cattle for bovine TB over the summer Defra issued a press notice encouraging farmers to organise their tests. At the end of September the number of outstanding herd tests stood at just over 14,900 tests (down from 27,000 at the end of last year).
On 9 October Defra announced a package of measures for the control of bovine TB in cattle in England. Part of the package is the imposition of movement restrictions on herds with overdue tests. Movement restrictions are being introduced in stages to reflect the risk of disease attached to overdue tests and taking account of the resources available to test herds.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many new cases have been reported of TB on farms in Gloucestershire in the last 12 months; and if she will make a statement. 
The number of TB incidents reported depends on the number of tests carried out and the nature of the testing regime as well as the underlying prevalence of the disease. Testing resources over the 12 month period October 2001 to September 2002 were concentrated on herds with overdue tests following the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak. These would have had a longer period in which to contract the disease. Those currently tested also contain a higher than usual proportion of high risk herds than were being tested prior to the FMD outbreak. As a consequence it is very difficult to assess whether there has been a greater increase in bovine TB than anticipated and it will remain difficult to interpret the numbers of incidents reported until the backlog of tests following the FMD outbreak has been cleared.
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Mr. Morley [holding answer 4 November 2002]: Bovine TB in cattle is caused by the organism Mycobacterium bovis. Defra is funding a wide-ranging programme of research into how bovine TB is spread. It includes research into the nature of the disease in cattle; what factors in the environment increase the risk to cattle; the spread of the disease between cattle, and between cattle and wildlife; and the role of the badger and other wildlife in disease transmission. Research is still on-going. It is too early to draw conclusions at this stage.
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