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7 Nov 2002 : Column 567Wcontinued
Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many funding commitments were launched by her Department and across the Government following the publication of the Rural White Paper in November 2000, stating which (a) require bidding and (b) are linked to a set funding formula; and what total amount is available for each commitment. 
Alun Michael: There are 260 key commitments contained or referred to in the Rural White Paper, of which 29 have direct funding arrangements. The figures are set out in the table below. Further information on the progress of these schemes is available in our Rural White Paper implementation plan on www.defra.gov.uk
|Funding Commitment||Bidding||Set Funding Formula||Total|
|Community Service Fund*||Y||#15m over 3 years|
|Refurbishing Post Offices||Y||#2m|
|Single Small Schools Fund||Y||#240m over 3 years|
|One stop primary care centres||Y||#100m|
|Social Exclusion Projects||Y||#4.5|
|Police Visibility in rural areas||Y||#60m|
|Housing Corporation programme of affordable housing in settlements under 3000||Y||Figures currently|
|Starter Homes Initiative||Y||#250m|
|Rural Housing Enablers*||Y||#2.8m|
|Promote flexible lettings policies by Local Authorities||Y||#13m|
|Rural Transport Partnership*||Y||19.5m|
|Parish Transport Fund*||Y||#15m|
|Rural Bus Subsidy||Y||#132m|
|Rural Bus Challenge||Y||#20m|
|Community Rail Partnerships*||Y||#0.2m|
|Rail Passenger Partnership||Y||#52m|
|Regeneration of 100 market towns*||Y||#37m|
|Help for small/ medium sized abattoirs*||Y||#20m|
|School Milk Scheme||Y||#1.5m|
|National School Fruit Scheme||Y||#42m|
|Extension of Redundant Buildings Grant scheme||Y||#4m|
|Local Heritage Initiative||Y||#5m|
|National Parks Grants*||Y||#31.5m (200203)|
|Increased funding for AONBs*||Y||#1.1m (200203)|
|National training strategy/ best practice toolkit for Parish and Town Councils*||Y||#2m|
|Help 1000 rural communities prepare plans*||Y||#5m|
* Programmes administered by Defra or one of its agencies
The European Rural Development Programme is an important component in the delivery of the policies set out in the Rural White Paper. This programme commits #1.6 billion in funding over 7 years.
7 Nov 2002 : Column 568W
Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many illegal meat imports were identified by Customs and Excise entering the UK in each of the last 10 years, broken down by category and where they were discovered. 
Since 1 April 2001, HM Customs and Excise have reported a total of 2147 seizures to Defra. Of those, there have been 1473 seizures of meat, 269 of fish, 58 of dairy products, 330 multiple seizures in which more than one type of produce of animal origin was found and 17 other seizures (which included products such as honey).
Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which of the notifiable diseases mentioned in Schedule 2A of the Government's Animal Health Bill 2001 she estimates are able to enter the country by illegally imported bushmeat. 
Mr. Morley: There is no precise definition of the term bushmeat, but this is generally understood to mean the meat of wild animals hunted for food, derived mainly from Central and West African countries.
As part of our Action Plan on illegal imports, we are carrying out a risk assessment to provide information on the likelihood that infected meat will enter the country undetected and infect susceptible livestock. This risk assessment is nearing completion. The risk assessment is focussing initially on the risk posed by Foot and Mouth Disease, though further work will follow on the swine diseases (Classical and African swine fever, swine vesicular disease). It would be possible to use the risk assessment model for other diseases as listed in Schedule 2A, where necessary and appropriate.
Of the diseases listed in Schedule 2A of the Animal Health Bill, Bluetongue and African horse sickness are not transmissible through meat/meat products (they are insect-borne). Other diseases are transmissible via meat, although the risks vary considerably. Generally, the viruses and bacteria present will depend on the species of meat, handling following slaughter, the processing it has undergone (for example, viruses are unlikely to survive the drying or smoking process), whether the product is on the bone, or has large quantities of offal, the temperature at which it has been kept and the length
7 Nov 2002 : Column 569W
of time taken to reach the UK. The risk of infected bushmeat coming into contact with susceptible livestock is another important variable.
Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many prosecutions there have been since January 2000 of persons found to be selling illegally imported meat products. 
Defra is aware that in 2001, HM Customs and Excise prosecuted three people for offences relating to the import of meat covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Two were convicted on CITES offences and one was acquitted, but convicted under a separate Animal Health charge. This year, we are aware of one successful prosecution brought by Crawley Borough Council in July, and six cautions issued by the London Port Health Authority in October. All related to the illegal importation of animal products.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many extra staff have been appointed to detect illegally imported meat at ports of entry to the UK since the outbreak of foot and mouth disease; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 4 November 2002]: An additional #1.5 million has been allocated in this financial year to fund extra checks. Discussions have been held with Local/Port Health Authorities on how best to target the resources. We expect to be able to fund between 18 and 30 extra officers this year. Sixteen officers have already started work or are just about to.
Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer of 11 April 2002, Official Report, column 585W, on illegal meat imports, what progress has been made towards implementing the action plan; and if she will make a statement. 
7 Nov 2002 : Column 570W
Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; if she will list the biosecurity measures, introduced by the Government at UK air and seaports since the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak. 
Mr. Morley: Biosecurity measures are in place at various points in the production chain. For example, leaflets giving advice on biosecurity have been issued to farmers. Due to the increased numbers of animals being imported to replace livestock, surveillance for certain diseases, (for example brucellosis) has been enhanced. The Government has introduced new biosecurity requirements for premises assembling live animals for intra-Community trade. These are in addition to the EU animal health rules covering assembly centres.
The Government's Action Plan on Illegal Imports, published on 28 March set out measures to reduce the risk of animal and plant diseases entering the country. Since publication of the Plan, a number of measures have been put into place specifically at air and seaports. On 22 May, enforcement officers were given additional powers to search commercial consignments and personal baggage for illegal imports. We have increased the number and improved the locations of posters explaining our import controls at the major UK airports. On 19 September, a six month pilot using detector dogs began at Heathrow. In this financial year, an extra #1.5 million has been allocated for checks to be conducted by additional enforcement officers at certain ports and airports. A risk assessment was commissioned to ascertain the amount of illegal imports, the risk that they are infected with a major animal disease, and the probability that the disease could enter the food chain, infecting our livestock and wildlife. The results of this risk assessment are due later this autumn and will help us determine the extent of the problem and the appropriate level of response.
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