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5 Nov 2002 : Column 234Wcontinued
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of compensation payments made in the foot and mouth epidemic are estimated to have been in excess of the market value of the animals destroyed; and what steps the Department is taking to recover excessive payments. 
Mr. Morley: Compensation values for animals destroyed in the foot and mouth epidemic were set in accordance with the Animal Health Act 1981 and reflected the market value i.e. the amount the animal destroyed would have fetched at
Valuations were made by a large number of independent professional valuers operating as MAFF/Defra's appointed experts working on site, with the animals in view and with the herd history, recent herd transactions and historical knowledge of market price obtainable for the breed and category of the animal being valued in the relevant geographical area.
150 valuations, about 1 per cent. of the number of valuations, were challenged where it was thought the valuations were excessive. The Department sought further evidence from the valuers on these valuations. This evidence was then scrutinised by the Department's professional adviser before payment was made.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received from the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group about progress towards meeting the objectives of the UK Fuel Poverty Strategy; and how she intends to respond. 
Mr. Morley: The Fuel Poverty Advisory Group was set up, following the publication of the UK Fuel Poverty StrategyNovember 2001, to advise Government on the delivery of its fuel poverty targets. The Group is to report annually to Ministers. The first annual report of the Group is expected around the turn of the year. The representations made will be given due consideration.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations her Department received from local authorities (a) prior to and (b) following the withdrawal of the Home Energy Conservation Bill; and if she will list those authorities. 
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Mr. Morley: The performance figures for local authorities' progress with their HECA strategies compiled by DEFRA have been collected from the data provided by local authorities in their energy conservation reports. This data have not been subjected to a detailed statistical analysis. Nevertheless, in compiling figures and data relating to the overall position in England, instances where data provided by authorities was clearly incorrect or inappropriate have been pursued with the authority concerned, clarified and, where appropriate, and with the agreement of the authority concerned, amended.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions were held between her Department and the hon. Member for Brighton and Kempton (a) prior to and (b) following the withdrawal of the Home Energy Conservation Bill. 
Mr. Morley: There were discussions between Ministers and the hon. Member for Brighton and Kempton at each stage of the Home Energy Conservation Bill. There have been no discussions following the withdrawal of this Bill.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she intends to adopt as Government policy the target of a 20 per cent. improvement in home energy efficiency by 2010; and if she will make a statement. 
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if she intends to offer further financial support to local authorities to assist them in meeting their targets under the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995; 
Mr. Morley: The Government have no plans to provide local authorities with the full funding necessary to meet the targets they have set in their HECA strategies. Non-local authority programmes, such as the Government's Warm Front programme and gas and electricity suppliers' Energy Efficiency Commitment, will deliver the majority of the improvements needed to meet these non-statutory targets. The full cost will therefore not fall to local authorities. Any new obligations the Government placed on authorities would, of course, be funded in full.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment procedures are in place to determine whether (a) shelters, (b) bedsits and (c) houses in multiple occupation are fit for habitation. 
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A residential shelter will normally be regarded as a house in multiple occupation for the purpose of the Housing Act 1985 and a traditional bedsit will normally also form part of a house in multiple occupation.
Section 604 (1) of the Housing Act 1985 provides that a dwelling (including a house in multiple occupation) is fit for human habitation unless the local housing authority is of the opinion it is not reasonably suitable for occupation because it fails to meet one or more basic standards. These include that the dwelling is to be structurally stable, free from damp and serious disrepair; have adequate provisions for lighting, heating, ventilation and supply of water; have adequate facilities for the preparation and cooking of food; have suitably located toilet, bathing and washing facilities and an effective drainage system.
In addition section 352 (1A) of the Housing Act 1985 sets out further standards which may be applied in relation to a house in multiple occupation by a local housing authority in its determination of whether the property is fit for the number of persons or households occupying it. These standards include that the property has satisfactory facilities for preparing and cooking food; an adequate number of toilet, bathing and washing facilities and an adequate means of escape from fire and other fire precautions.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what resources have been provided in the last 12 months to ensure that enforcement officers' searches of suspected illegal meat imports will take place. 
Mr. Morley: Searches for illegal imports of meat and meat products form part of the normal duties of port health authorities and local authorities. However, in this financial year, an extra #1.5 million has been allocated for checks to be conducted by additional enforcement officers at ports and airports. Defra is matching funding with the Food Standards Agency to provide additional training for enforcement officers on import rules.
Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what additional measures have been taken to comply with the new rules and regulations which come into effect from 1 January 2003 regarding illegal import of meat and dairy products; and how much additional funding has been allocated to policing the rules and regulations. 
Mr. Morley: The Products of Animal Origin (Third Country Imports) (England) Regulations 2002 will be amended to bring it into line with the new Commission decision on imports of meat and dairy products for personal consumption. Revised penalty posters are being produced, as well as updated information for travellers and airlines. Guidance to enforcement officers is being revised. Stakeholders are being informed of the changes.
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Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many prosecutions there have been for the illegal importing of meat in each of the last five years for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 4 November 2002]: Figures on prosecutions for the illegal importation of meat are not collected centrally. Responsibility for prosecutions lies with local authorities. We are however aware of one successful prosecution this year, which was brought by Crawley borough council in July. The London Port health authority issued six cautions in October.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to increase the checks made at ports of entry to the United Kingdom of illegally imported meat; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 4 November 2002]: Plans to increase checks at ports of entry to the United Kingdom are at an advanced stage. Additional checks started at two seaports at the beginning of October, are on target to start at a third seaport on 4 November. Two further teams will start work at airports on 11 and 12 November respectively.
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