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26 Nov 2002 : Column 238W—continued

Meat Inspection

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what consultations she had with meat producers in the North of Scotland prior to the authorising of meat inspection contracts; [80781]

Ms Blears: I have been asked to reply.

Meat inspection in Scotland is a devolved matter and Ministerial responsibility rests with Scottish Ministers.

Ministerial Visits

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many times she has visited east Lancashire in her official capacity; and what the purpose was of each visit. [82397]

Alun Michael: The Secretary of State was in Lancashire on 20 September 2002 this year to officially open the Millennium Ribble Link on behalf of British Waterways.

Mobile Slaughtermen

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many licensed mobile slaughtermen operate in England and Wales. [80461]

Ms Blears: I have been asked to reply.

I am advised on food safety issues by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The licensing of slaughtermen in Great Britain is carried out by the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS), an Executive Agency of the Food Standards Agency, who took over this task from some 300 local authorities on its establishment in 1995.

No separate licence is issued for mobile slaughtermen.

As at 19 November 2002, there are 7,014 valid slaughtermens' licences in Great Britain.

Oil Seed Rape

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many acres of oil seed rape were grown in England and Wales in 2002. [82733]

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Mr. Morley: Defra is able to provide data for England only. Figures for Wales are a matter for the devolved authority. In England 404 thousand hectares (997 thousand acres) of oil seed rape were grown for harvest in 2002. This includes 79 thousand hectares (195 thousand acres) grown for industrial use on set-aside land.



Parrett Catchment Project

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the salary is of the chairman of the Parrett Catchment Project for 2000–01 and 2001–02; and whether his salary has been agreed for 2003. [83389]

Mr. Morley: The Parrett Catchment Project is an independent body. I am advised that no salary is paid by the project to the chairman. He is currently entitled to a fee of £150 per day for his work on the project.

He received no fees or expenses at all from the project up to June 2001. From June 2001 to the end of June 2002, he was paid £3,000 in fees, a £1,000 honorarium for extra-contractual work on the successful Intereg 3 bid for EU funds, and £724 in expenses. He has received no payments for fees or expenses since 1 July 2002.

Pet Travel Scheme

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many pet owners used the pet travel scheme in the past 12 months. [82370]

Mr. Morley: Figures are not kept on the number of owners using the scheme. Between 1 October 2001 and 30 September 2002, the most recent 12 months for which figures are available, 38,603 dogs and cats entered England under the pet travel scheme.

Prestige Sinking

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what early assessment she has made of the long-term environmental impact of the sinking of the Prestige off the Spanish Atlantic coast. [83003]

Mr. Morley : It is too early to assess the long term impacts of this oil pollution. Much will depend on the fate of the oil still in the holds of the wreck, and wind and sea conditions in the area. The primary responsibility for assessing the impact will rest with the Spanish authorities. Defra's Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science has contacted the scientists working on impactassessment and has offered any technical assistance they may find helpful Our current assessment is that it is extremely unlikely any oil from the Prestigewill reach the British coast.

Public Bodies

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who is serving on the (a) Advisory Committee on New Foods and Processes, (b) Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committee, (c) Apple and Pear Research Council,

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(d) British Potato Council, (e) Consultatative Panel on Badgers and Bovine Tuberculosis, (f) Environment Agency Board, (g) Farm Animal Welfare Council, (h) Food Advisory Committee, (i) Food from Britain, (j) Harbour Commission, (k) Home Grown Cereals Authority, (l) Horticulture Research International, (m) Meat and Livestock Commission, (n) Plant Varieties and Seeds Tribunal, (o) Regional Floods Defence Committee and (p) Sea Fisheries Committee; and what remuneration they receive. [82344]

Alun Michael: Information on (a) The Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes and (h) the Food Advisory Committee is available from the Food Standards Agency, who report to Parliament through Health Ministers.

Responsibility for appointments to Harbour Commissions was transferred to the Department for Transport in October 2001.

The information requested on the remaining bodies has been placed in the Library of the House.

Rural White Paper

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will publish the second progress report on the Rural White Paper. [82786]

Alun Michael: We now publish a quarterly update on implementation of the Rural White Paper. The most recent update reported progress up to 31 August 2002. The next update will report progress as of 31 December 2002 and will be published in January.

The Rural White Paper Implementation plan is available at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/ruralwp/rwpttable/

Science and Regulatory Agencies

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will place copies of the reviews of her Department's science and regulatory agencies in the Library of the House; and if she will make a statement. [81165]

Mr. Morley: We plan to announce the outcome of the Agency Review before the Christmas recess when copies of the report will be placed in the Library of the House.

Seals

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what plans she has to improve reporting and monitoring practices in respect of seals; [80855]

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Mr. Morley [holding answer 20 November 2002]: The Department has no current plans to amend the reporting practices in respect of seals. The status of seal populations in the UK is reported annually by the National Environment Research Council (NERC) based on data produced by the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU), University of St. Andrews. The activities of SMRU include seeking improvements in the methods used to collect information about seals.

The Department does not keep a record of the total number of seals killed deliberately or accidentally by humans each year.

Article 3 of the EU Habitats Directive requires the UK to identify and select special areas of conservation (SAC) for common seals and grey seals that will make a significant contribution to conserving these species in their natural range. Regulations prohibit certain indiscriminate methods of killing seals, including the use of devices capable of killing or stunning, explosives, crossbows, semi-automatic or automatic weapons with a magazine capable of holding more than two rounds of ammunition.

The obligations of Article 8 of the Bern Convention are implemented by the Conservation of Seals Act 1970 and the Conservation of Seals (England) Order 1999.

Under the Wildife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to use a snare to trap any mammal, including seals.

The Department has no plans at present to influence what methods fishermen or fish farmers should use when deterring seals from their nets.

There are currently no plans to review section 9 of the Conservation of Seals Act 1970.


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