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Regional Government

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the role of

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existing regional assemblies in the Government's soundings exercise on the future of elected regional government; and what (a) guidance he has issued to and (b) requirements he has placed upon regional assemblies to maintain their impartiality in the exercise. [97198]

Mr. Raynsford: On 2 December 2002, the Government issued a soundings paper inviting views, information and evidence on the level of interest in each region in holding a referendum about an elected assembly. This paper was sent to the eight regional chambers, as well as local authorities, MPs, MEPs and others in the English regions outside London.

The soundings paper advises all respondents that the information they provide will be strengthened if they can demonstrate that they have consulted widely. The paper also makes it clear that opinion polls, in order to be considered by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister, must have been conducted in a way likely to generate a fair and representative outcome.

Regional chambers may use Government grant to develop their responses to the soundings exercise. But the funding agreements issued to the chambers or their accountable bodies make clear that Government grant cannot be used for political activities, such as campaigning for elected regional assemblies.

Right to Buy

David Davis: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many tenants have used the Right to Buy scheme to purchase property in each local authority in each year since 1 May 1997. [96717]

Mr. McNulty: The information collected relates to the number of dwellings sold under the Right to Buy legislation.

Tables showing reported information on Right to Buy sales and other council house disposals by each local authority in England, along with national and regional summaries, for each year since 1979–80 are available in the Library of the House.

Sawmill Industrial Estate, Alnwick

Mr. Beith: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he expects to determine the planning application in respect of a supermarket on the Sawmill Industrial Estate, Alnwick. [96495]

Mr. McNulty: My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister received the Inspector's report in respect of a planning application for a supermarket in Alnwick on 7 January 2003. The application is on the Willis Garage site which is adjacent to the Sawmill Industrial Estate. My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister aims to make a decision as soon as possible.

Unfair Terms Regulations

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on how the DTLR publication Independent Tenant Advisers and Stock Transfers-A Good Practice Guide by Barbara Carlisle and Michael Wagstaff deals with the implications of the

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Unfair Terms Regulations 1999 for the independent tenant adviser; and what the cost was of this document. [96567]

Mr. McNulty: Chapter 10 of the Independent Tenant Advisors and Stock Transfers good practice guidance provides guidance on how the Independent Tenant Advisor can work with the local authority to ensure tenants have the information they need about the proposed stock transfer and provide impartial advice on tenancy agreements, rent levels and future rent guarantees. However it does not make specific reference to the Unfair Terms Regulations 1999. The guide was produced as a free publication.

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what action has been taken by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to encourage all sections of the housing industry to comply with the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. [96570]

Mr. McNulty: The Director General of Fair Trading and a number of other regulators are responsible for the enforcement of these regulations. The Office of Fair Trading published guidance on unfair terms in tenancy agreements for the private rented sector in November 2001. All sections of the housing industry are advised to take full account of their guidance and the need to comply with the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations in their contractual arrangements with consumers.


Animal Welfare

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanisms have been put in place to ensure the effective registration of livestock hauliers and the inspection of their operations in relation to the welfare of the livestock. [97125]

Mr. Morley: The Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 1997 (WATO), as amended, requires that any person transporting cattle, sheep, goats, pigs or horses on journeys of over eight hours by road, or by air, rail or sea must be specifically authorised. A specific authorisation is issued only after checks that the applicant is a fit and proper person to transport animals. A total of 947 specific authorisations have been issued in Great Britain to hauliers and other transporters since 1 October 1997. Full information about WATO is available on the internet at:

Compliance by livestock hauliers with WATO is generally monitored by enforcement agents at livestock markets, ports and during roadside vehicle checks. We are currently piloting a new agreement for animal health and welfare with enforcement agencies, which is intended to provide more consistent and improved enforcement.

For export journeys with farmed livestock, route plans showing the route and duration of the journey are checked before and after the journey for compliance with permitted maximum journey times and rest, feed and watering requirements. The European Commission

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are considering improvements to the monitoring of these rules and better communication between member states to ensure rapid reporting of problems.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the reclassification of animals as sentient beings under European law and its implications for the welfare of animals. [97128]

Mr. Morley: In 1997 we successfully negotiated a Protocol to the Treaty of Rome that recognises animals as sentient beings. This requires the European Union and the member states to pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals, in formulating and implementing the Community's agriculture, transport, internal market and research policies.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action the Government are taking to end the use of (a) veal crates and (b) battery cages across Europe. [97131]

Mr. Morley: The Government are committed to improving animal welfare on an EU basis. EU Directive 99/74/EC bans the barren battery cage across Europe from 1 January 2012; Directive 97/2/EC bans veal crates in the EU from 31 December 2006.


Bob Spink : To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many badger groups were relocated at (a) the cost of residents and (b) public expense in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [95944]

Mr. Morley: (a) One; and (b) None.

Bob Spink : To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in what circumstances badgers can be removed from urban areas to prevent (a) danger to the badgers and (b) nuisance to householders; and what controls can be used to prevent badgers digging setts in residential areas. [95945]

Mr. Morley: Under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 it is an offence to take a badger except in certain circumstances. For instance, a person is not guilty of an offence if he takes a badger that has been disabled otherwise than by his action for the purpose of tending the animal. The licensing provisions in the Act enable English Nature to grant a licence, among other things, to take a specified number of badgers for the purpose of conservation of badgers. In addition, the Act enables Defra to grant a licence to take a badger for the purpose, among other things, of preventing serious damage to property.

Defra's Rural Development Service provides practical guidance on preventing problems arising from the presence of badgers in residential areas. Advice may be obtained from the National Wildlife Administration Unit, telephone number 0845 601 4523 (local rate). The RDS publishes a leaflet, "Badger Problems: Advice to Householders", available on request, or via the Department's web site.

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Bovine Tuberculosis

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what impact the 20 day livestock movement restrictions have had upon the control of the spread of bovine TB. [96956]

Mr. Morley: Any limitation on the movement of cattle, such as the 20 day livestock movement restrictions, reduces the opportunity for TB infection to be brought onto herds. However, limiting movement alone is not sufficient as a TB control measure. Defra has advised farmers that they must take responsibility for ensuring they are aware of the TB status of animals brought onto farms, and that they should buy only from herds with up-to-date TB tests.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the prospects for the development of a vaccine for bovine TB. [96957]

Mr. Morley: Over the last twelve months the Vaccine Scoping Study Sub-Committee of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG) has met regularly to consider the feasibility for pursuing a TB vaccination strategy for cattle or wildlife, and to advise on future research requirements. A report to Ministers is expected in the spring.

The ISG has cautioned that a TB vaccine is a potential policy option only in the longer term.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects the Scientific Committee overseeing the Krebs Trials into the spread of bovine TB (a) to complete its field work and (b) to publish its findings. [96958]

Mr. Morley: The Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG) has advised that the work associated with the badger culling trial should be completed and reported during 2006. This is a three to four month extension following the suspension of field operations during the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak. However, the ISG are reviewing the effect of the FMD outbreak on the badger culling trial, and expect to provide further advice to Ministers on the likely completion date in the spring of this year.

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