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24 Mar 2003 : Column 4W—continued

Horse Welfare

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with horse welfare groups in the United Kingdom. [104244]

Alun Michael: I have regular contact, directly and through officials, with representatives of horse industry organisations. I have discussed horse welfare issues most recently with the RSPCA and with the British Horse Society which represents horse industry interests on the Rural Affairs Forum for England. In addition our officials have recently met horse welfare groups to discuss the proposed Animal Welfare Bill and the Defra Horse Industry Team has frequent contact with the British Horse Society, the British Horse Industry Confederation and the British Equestrian Federation.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on horse welfare in the United Kingdom. [104245]

Alun Michael: The proposed Animal Welfare Bill provides an opportunity to improve welfare standards for horses. The possible improvements include allowing a prosecution to be brought where an animal is being maintained in a way that will lead to unnecessary suffering, the licensing of livery stables and controls to combat poor tethering.

Illegal Imports

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of her Department's Don't Bring Back More Than You Bargained For campaign. [103754]

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Margaret Beckett: Qualitative research undertaken on behalf of Defra has shown that the Don't Bring Back More Than You Bargained For campaign has raised travellers' awareness of the import rules for food and plants by 10 per cent.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what analysis has been made of products seized under Regulation 24 in (a) 2000–01, (b) 2001–02 and (c) 2002–03, broken down by country of origin of the products seized; and if she will place a copy in the Library. [103756]

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the countries which, since 1997, have been identified as the original source of illegal imports of (a) meat, (b) fish and (c) other food products, by type. [103643]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 19 March 2003]: Data on products seized have been held by the Illegal Animal Product Seizures (ILAPS) database since April 2001. It is analysed on a monthly basis and the results are circulated to the relevant enforcement authorities. These reports are not published documents since they contain sensitive information which is relevant to the targeting of enforcement activity. We shall shortly publish the report on the risk assessment of the import of meat and meat products contaminated with foot and mouth disease virus. That report includes analysis of the overall risk by world region of origin. A copy will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to transfer provision from her Department's budget to that of HM Customs and Excise when Customs takes over responsibility for controls on illegal imports of animal and plant products. [103782]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 18 March 2003]: The Government have allocated £25 million over the three years commencing 2003–04 for work on illegal meat and plant imports. We expect to announce very shortly how much of the available budget will transfer to HM Customs and Excise in 2003–04 to fund their new responsibilities for anti-smuggling controls on animal and plant products.

National Parks

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to introduce congestion charging in national parks. [103910]

Alun Michael: Under the Transport Act 2000 it is for each local traffic authority to consider whether there is a case for introducing charging schemes in its area. Any such proposals require the approval of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received about the designation order for the South Downs National Park. [103918]

Alun Michael: About 5,000 representations have been received in regard to the South Downs National Park Designation Order. These relate to the principle of a National Park, the boundary, and administrative

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arrangements. We are currently considering the responses and I expect to make an announcement on the next steps soon.

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many visitors there were to each of the National Parks in each of the last 10 years. [103919]

Alun Michael: Statistics are not collected annually. The last comprehensive visitor survey of the National Parks was undertaken in 1994. The figures are given in the following table. A new survey is to be undertaken in 2004.

National parkVisitor days
Lake District13,925,000
Peak District12,400,000
Yorkshire Dales8,303,000
North York Moors7,790,000
Dartmoor3,825,000
Northumberland1,408,000
Exmoor1,397,000

Procurement Contracts

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many procurement contracts in her Department have been awarded in the last year; how many such contracts used pre-tender short listing criteria that did not include (a) environmental criteria for the contract and (b) the environmental record of companies; what the total cost in the last year was of such contracts; and if she will make a statement. [104082]

Alun Michael: The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Rural Poverty (Wiltshire)

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of rural poverty in Wiltshire; and if she will make a statement. [104155]

Alun Michael: We do not have data on rural poverty at the county level although local authorities may have undertaken work on poverty in their area. In England as a whole fewer rural households than urban households are below 60 per cent. of average household income which is accepted as a normal poverty indicator.

The average (median) income is approximately £18,000 per annum, so the 60 per cent. level is approximately £10,800. Figure 1 compares urban and rural levels of income-poverty.

Figure 1. Households in income poverty

RuralUrban
Number of households5,918,75615,202,778
Household income less than 60 per cent. of the median1,347,3994,031,904
Total (percentage)23.226.5

Source:

Countryside Agency, (2002) "The state of the countryside 2002", Countryside Agency, Cheltenham.

In 2001, 1 per cent. of rural wards in the South West had an average household income of below £15,000 per year, compared with 7 per cent. of urban wards.


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Figure 2. Average (mean) household income, 2001

Percentage of wards with household income:
Less than £15,000£15,000-£20,000£20,000-£25,000£25,000-£30,000Above £30,000
South West
Rural12739248
Urban74233125
All England
Rural220292722
Urban928261918

Source:

Countryside Agency, (2002), "The state of the countryside 2002: South West", Countryside Agency, Cheltenham


DEFENCE

Media Interviews

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what rules he has made about serving members of the armed forces talking to the media; and what plans he has for revising them. [104563]

Dr. Moonie: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 15 May 2002, Official Report, column 642W. There are no plans to revise the Queen's Regulations covering this issue.

Balance Sheets

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library copies of the balance sheets maintained by his Department's management groupings since 1999–2000. [103989]

Mr. Ingram: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Biological/Chemical Warfare

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether (a) the man-portable chemical agent detector, (b) the light-weight chemical agent detector and (c) the integrated biological protection system will be available for service for war in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [104228]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence gave on 24 February 2003, Official Report, column 138W.


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