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4 Jun 2003 : Column 414W—continued

Food (Terrorism)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of protection against terrorist action in the (a) food production and (b) food distribution industries. [116276]

Mr. Morley: The terrorist threat to the UK, including the threat to the food production and food distribution industries, is monitored regularly by the Government and we and the industry remain vigilant. Advice on any terrorist threat to the UK is the responsibility of the Security Service. The Director General of the Security Service is responsible to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary for this advice, which is provided on a continual basis. Strategic assessments about terrorist threats to the UK are provided to the Government by the Joint Intelligence Committee.

Defra is also heavily engaged in the central Government programme to improve civil contingency planning, especially in areas relating to our departmental responsibilities. Planning is developed and agreed with stakeholders, both in government and industry, including food and agriculture interests, to ensure that the UK's resilience to emergencies of all kinds, including possible terrorist action against the UK food chain, is improved.

Illegal Meat Imports

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with HM Customs and Excise regarding intelligence on illegal meat imports. [116075]

Mr. Morley: Officials from Defra have regular meetings with colleagues in HM Customs and Excise to discuss intelligence matters with regard to illegal imports of animal and plant products.

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We will be jointly analysing available data to look for trends and will be discussing ways in which we can disseminate the information.

Job Losses

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many jobs have been lost in UK agriculture in the last five years. [114885]

Mr. Morley: Figures from the Agricultural and Horticultural Census indicate the labour on agricultural holdings in June each year (including farmers and their spouses if working on holdings). These figures show the net change in the labour force.

Total UK Labour force (thousands)



Includes estimates for minor holdings

Estimates have been made for non-respondents

Figures exclude school children but include trainees employed under an official youth training scheme and paid at Agricultural Wages Board rates or above.

From 1998, all farmers managing holdings for limited companies or other institutions in England and Wales were asked to classify themselves as salaried managers.

(e) June 2001 results assuming England register improvements had not taken place (comparable with June 2000).

(f) June 2001 results including England register improvement (not directly comparable with June 2000).

Livestock Movements

Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the progress of the European Commission's proposals for the transportation of horses and donkeys to slaughter. [115248]

Mr. Morley: The European Commission proposals for changes to the welfare of animals during transport Directive (91/628/EEC), which includes rules on the transport of horses for slaughter, are still awaited.

David Byrne, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, indicated on 4 April that proposals would be announced in the "not too distant future" during a speech to the Veterinary Officers Association of Ireland.

We hope proposals will be released soon and look forward to a major role in negotiations. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has already called for a reduction in the maximum journey times permitted for slaughter animals.

Livestock Traceability

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research her Department has commissioned on the effectiveness of the regulations on livestock traceability; and what plans she has to amend them. [116583]

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Mr. Morley: Defra propose to run a pilot trial to fully test Electronic Identification (EID) and Electronic Data Transfer (EOT) systems within the English sheep industry. The aim is to test the effectiveness of EID/EDT in a live working environment, analysing take up issues on the use of electronic tracing and identifying the benefits. We plan to run the pilot trial from December 2003 to December 2004, with a full report available in February 2005. This trial will help to inform future policies in this area.


Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what controls are in place to govern the use of pesticides on crops; who is responsible for allowing the use of new pesticides; what checks are in place; and if she will make a statement on her most recent assessment of the effectiveness of pesticides. [115134]

Mr. Morley: The use of pesticides on crops is governed by two legislative systems running in parallel. Established agricultural pesticides are regulated by the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 (as amended), made under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985. New pesticides for use on crops are regulated by the Plant Protection Product Regulations 1995 (as amended), which implement EC Directive 91/414/EEC.

All established agricultural pesticides are subject to an on-going EU review programme to ensure that the data supporting their approvals meet modern safety standards. Subject to a satisfactory outcome, they are then regulated, with new pesticides, under the Plant Protection Product Regulations 1995.

The following Government Departments have joint responsibility for allowing the use of new pesticides: the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, the Department of Health, the Health and Safety Executive (for the Department for Work and Pensions), the Food Standards Agency, the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Executive.

The Health and Safety Executive carries out checks on the safe use and storage of agricultural pesticides during inspections of farms and other holdings, as part of their work in assessing compliance in general with health and safety legislation.

The effectiveness of pesticides is considered as an integral part of the approval process and is assessed when an application is made for the marketing and use of a pesticide product.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assistance is available to farmers who do not use pesticides on their crops; and what proposals she has to encourage non-use of (a) pesticides and (b) other chemicals on crops. [115135]

Mr. Morley: The Government's Organic Farming Scheme encourages the expansion of organic production which uses only a limited range of pesticides. Under the Scheme, farmers moving from conventional to organic farming methods receive financial help during the conversion process. From 30 May 2003,

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assistance will also be available under the Scheme for existing organic farmers who comply with certain environmental measures.

It is established Government policy to encourage farmers and growers to reduce the use of conventional pesticides. This policy is supported in a number of ways including the work of the Pesticides Forum, which promotes responsible pesticide use. The Government also support the industry-led Voluntary Initiative, which aims to encourage farmers to adopt practices that reduce impacts on the environment.

It is also Government policy to encourage farmers to minimise their use of other chemical inputs. One of the most important measures we have taken in England is the introduction of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, in which the use of nitrogen fertiliser is limited and controlled.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what European Union funding is available to support farmers to encourage non-use of pesticides on crops; and what recent discussions have taken place with EU representatives regarding organic foods. [115136]

Mr. Morley: The EU co-funds the Countryside Stewardship, Environmentally Sensitive Area and Organic Farming Schemes under the England Rural Development Programme (ERDP). These agri-environment schemes offer a range of management options primarily designed to achieve a range of objectives including protecting and enhancing bio-diversity, wildlife, landscape, historic environment and access. Some of these Schemes do place restrictions on the use of pesticides where it is necessary to achieve these objectives. Agreements are however, not offered solely for the non-use of pesticides.

It is our intention to integrate continuing support for Organic Farmers into the new Entry Level Agri-environment Scheme, due to be launched in 2005. This is currently under development and being discussed with stakeholders now. The proposals will be discussed with the European Commission later this year.

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the operating cost was of the Pesticides Safety Directorate, in each of the last five years. [115802]

Mr. Morley: The operating costs for PSD for the past five years are as follows:

£ millions

Operating costs

(3) Additional costs of £898,000 in 2001–02 associated with the foot and mouth disease are not included in the above figure.

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