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5 Dec 2002 : Column 948W—continued

Horticulture Research International

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will end the moratorium imposed on Horticulture Research International regarding scientific staff; and if she will make a statement. [84136]

Mr. Morley: Horticulture Research International (HRI) is in a loss-making situation. Following discussions with Defra, HRI agreed to introduce a moratorium on staff recruitment to help contain its operating costs. HRI will fill vacant posts by external recruitment only where such posts are essential to its business and where it has been unable to fill them through internal redeployment.

The Department considers that this is a financially responsible course of action. The moratorium will be reviewed in due course in the light of HRI's financial situation and the decisions which the Department expects to take shortly about the future of the organisation.

Livestock Sales

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her assessment is of the relative number of (a) beef, (b) dairy and (c) sheep sales being concluded (i) through a registered auction mart and (ii) by private farm-to-farm sale in each of the last three years. [84166]

Mr. Morley: The available data are shown in the table. Livestock markets were disrupted by the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001, and the last three years for which data are available are 1998–2000. They include livestock sold for slaughter and farm-to-farm sales through markets. No data are available within my Department for Northern Ireland, for the split between beef and dairy cattle, or for private farm-to-farm sales.

Throughput through livestock auction markets in Great Britain

199819992000
Cattle (including dairy)2,4552,4832,422
Calves523454436
Sheep17,06017,56417,596
Total20,03820,50120,454

Source:

The Livestock Auctioneers' Association.


Meat Imports (South Africa)

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs why the Government did not ban meat imports from South Africa between September 2000 and January 2001. [83895]

Mr. Morley: On 21 September 2000 the European Commission was notified of limited outbreaks of foot and mouth disease in sixteen provinces of Kwa-Zulu Natal. The South African authorities took effective action by imposing their own export ban on meat from the infected areas. At the time the Government was content with this situation as meat from the area could not be exported.

On 17 November the Commission amended Community legislation to formally prohibit the import of fresh meat from the affected areas. This reflected the

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self-imposed South African ban. Prior to this the Commission had not taken any action. Records show that after 21 September 2000 there were no imports of meat from South Africa into the United Kingdom.

On 20 December 2000 the Commission reported that there had been no change in the disease situation. In view of this we reviewed our action and issued a Declaration under Regulation 35 of the Products of Animal Origin (Importer and Export) Regulations 1996 on 5 January 2001 prohibiting all fresh meat of FMD susceptible species from the whole of South Africa unless it was produced before 15 September 2000. A note explaining the situation was sent to trade interests on 8 January, as was a letter to all Border Inspection Posts at ports and airports. Scotland and Northern Ireland took similar action shortly afterwards.

Since then the Government has followed a policy of issuing such a Declaration whenever a suspension of imports is necessary, even in advance of Community action.

Official Travel

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total expenditure of (a) her Department and (b) its agencies was on official travel in 2001–02. [84800]

Alun Michael: Since 1999 the Government has published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. The Government has also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Details of travel undertaken during the period 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002 was published on 24 July 2002 Official Report 1374 75W. The cost of Ministers' visits overseas for 2002–03 will be published as soon as possible after the end of the current financial year. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House.

All travel is undertaken fully in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

Parrett Catchment Project

Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total remuneration is of the Chairman of the Parrett Catchment Project. [84648]

Mr. Morley: The Parrett Catchment Project is an independent body. As advised in my reply to the Member's previous question, no salary is paid by the project to the Chairman. I understand that he is currently entitled to a fee of £150 per day for his work on the project.

Up to June 2001, I am advised that the Chairman received no fees or expenses from the Project.

From June 2001 to the end of June 2002, I understand that 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.

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He has received no payments for fees or expenses since the 1 of July 2002.

Pigswill

Mr Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment she has made of the impact upon business of the ban on pigswill; and what compensation her Department is providing to pigswill producers to compensate them for losses brought about by the ban. [85082]

Mr. Morley: In March 2001 during the Foot and Mouth outbreak, the proposal to ban swill feeding was the subject of a full public consultation and Regulatory Impact Assessment. A copy of the Regulatory Impact Assessment which accompanied the Animal By Products (Amendment) Order 2002 (S.I. 2001 No. 1704) is available in the Library of the House.

The Government does not intend to compensate pig farmers for changes to the feed material available for their livestock following the introduction of the ban on swill feeding. However the Government is providing free business advice to those affected by the ban.

Animal Movement Restrictions

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received concerning the application of the 20-day standstill period where the designated 20 days are exceeded relating to farm to farm sales; and if she will make a statement. [84510]

Mr. Morley: We receive many varied representations about different aspects of the 20-day standstill rule. The current movement rules, including the standstill, apply to animals sold from farm to farm as well as to other types of movements.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received concerning the practicality of the exemption to the 20-day standstill rule granted to farmers in the form of a DEFRA licence for specialised calf rearing units; and if she will make a statement. [84509]

Mr. Morley: We receive many varied representations on all aspects of the 20-day standstill rule. The movement of calves under 30-days-old with full passports does not trigger a 20-day standstill on specialist calf rearing units which have been approved by the Divisional Veterinary Manager. Specialist calf rearing units do not require a licence.

Veterinary Practices

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 21 November 2002, Official Report, column 300W, what measures she is taking to (a) identify veterinary practices and surgeries operating without being registered by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and (b) ensure that (i) non-registered veterinary practices and surgeons and (ii) others are not involved in working with animals. [84821]

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Mr. Morley [holding answer 4 December 2002]: The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is obliged under the Veterinary Surgeons and Veterinary Practitioners Registration Regulations to maintain and publish a register of all veterinary surgeons eligible to practise in the UK. However, under the Regulations, the RCVS only have jurisdiction over individual registered veterinary surgeons. Should the RCVS be informed of, or identify, individuals practising while unregistered it is a matter for the police or local trading standards agencies to prosecute under Section 19 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.

The regulations do not require or give the RCVS powers to compel members to provide practice details, although many do so on a voluntary basis. This information is maintained on a database and is published on the RCVS website under 'Find-a-Vet'. This is annually printed as a publication, Xthe Directory of Veterinary Practices" and is available to the public. The Directory and 'Find-a-Vet' link individual veterinary surgeons to practices and provide comprehensive information on the species they treat and any specialist services they offer.

The RCVS continually monitors various advertising and other information media to identify practices not listed in the Directory. Once identified they are contacted and asked if they wish to be listed.

It is the responsibility of practices to check that prospective employees possess relevant qualifications and in the case of veterinarians that they are registered with the RCVS.


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