11 Dec 2003 : Column 535W
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what visits (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department (i) have made and (ii) plan to make using public funds in connection with the Big Conversation; how many civil servants accompanied each Minister in respect of such visits; what the cost to public funds was of visits by (A) each Minister and (B) civil servants in connection with the Big Conversation; and if he will make a statement. 
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from (a) student representative bodies and (b) the university sector in Scotland on the subject of top-up fees. 
Mrs. McGuire: My right hon. Friend has not received any representations on the subject of variable tuition fees from student representative bodies, but he has had correspondence from three MPs writing on behalf of Scottish universities and individual students.
Mrs. McGuire [holding answer 8 December 2003]: My right hon. Friend has frequent exchanges with the First Minister on a range of relevant issues, including the possible impact in Scotland of the introduction of variable tuition fees in England.
11 Dec 2003 : Column 536W
Mr. Bradshaw: The police have powers to restrict noise from moving vehicles under Regulation 97 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. This regulation makes it an offence to use a motor vehicle on the road in such a manner as to cause any excessive noise that could have been avoided by the exercise of reasonable care on the part of the driver; this includes excessive noise from car stereos. The penalty is a fine of up to £1,000.
|Financial Year||Million litres|
|Financial Year||£ million|
Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which projects have been (a) wholly and (b) partly funded by her Department in St. Helens since 1997; when each project was announced; when it started or was expected to start;
11 Dec 2003 : Column 537W
what funding was provided by (i) Government and (ii) a third party; what third party provided funding; what the target group of the project was; what the projected outcome of the project was; and what the name of the project was. 
11 Dec 2003 : Column 538W
Alun Michael: Information and statistics on the distribution of the Department's funds are not normally held on a parliamentary constituency basis. The following tables show as fully as possible details of projects that have benefited St. Helens since 1997.
|Project funded by Defra||Project 1||Project 2||Project 3||Project 4||Project 5||Project 6|
|Project was announced||2002||2002||1995||1995||2001||1998|
|Funding provided by||Defra||Defra||Defra||Defra||Defra||Defra|
|Target group||General public||General public||General public||General public||General public||General public|
|Funding since 1997 (£)||558.75||477.90||3,000.00||1,500.00||1,000.00||2,000.00|
|Name of the project||Access||Access||Educational access||Educational access||Educational access||Educational access|
|Project funded by Defra||Project 1||Project 2||Project 3||Project 4||Project 5|
|Project started||January 2003||September 2003||September 2003||March 2001||March 2001|
|Funding provided by||Defra||Defra||Defra||Defra||Defra|
|Target group||Farmer||Farmer||Farmer||Land owners||Land owners|
|Funding since 1997 (£)||23,000||16,000||18,000||66,000||150,000|
|Name of the project||Farm diversification||Food processing and marketing||Food processing and marketing||Forestry||Forestry|
|Project funded by Defra||Project 1|
|Project was announced||Unknown|
|Funding provided by||Defra|
|Target group||Poultry processor|
|Funding since 1997 (£)||162,474|
|Name of the project||n/a|
|Project funded by Defra||Project 1||Project 2|
|Project was announced||December 2003||December 2003|
|Project started||April 2004||April 2004|
|Funding provided by||Defra||Defra|
|Target group||General public||General public|
|Funding since 1997 (£)||645,000||350,000|
|Name of the project||n/a||n/a|
The latest information on regional progress in the national headline indicators of sustainable development were published by Defra in the second edition of the 'Regional quality of life counts' report on 21 June 2002. This provides updated regional figures and analysis for 13 of the 15 headline indictors for each of the English Government Office Regions. The Government's third annual report on sustainable development in the UKAchieving a better quality of lifewas published by Defra on 24 February 2003. Both publications are available on the Government's sustainable development website: www.sustainable-development.gov.uk. In addition, a wide range of information about the Department's policies and work is also included in the Defra Publication Scheme which was introduced in November 2002 and is available on the Defra website at www.defra.gov.uk.
Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the incidence of TB in badgers in (a) England, (b) Herefordshire and (c) Worcestershire was in the last six months for which figures are available. 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 1 December 2003]: Data from the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) and the associated current Road Traffic Accident (RTA) survey are not available. The most recent data available are for the period 18 February 1999 to 18 August 1999. These data are sourced from the previous RTA survey and sources other than from badger removal operations, and pre-date the current RTA and RBCT.
The following table shows the number of badger carcases tested for Mycobacterium bovis (the causative organism for bovine tuberculosis) for this period. Data for Hereford and Worcester were collected together, and thus given as a total.
|England||Hereford and Worcester|
|Number of badger carcases tested||771||128|
|Number of badger carcases M.bovis positive||72||19|
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people, since 1998, have been arrested for interfering with Government badger traps; and how many have been prosecuted. 
11 Dec 2003 : Column 539W
Mr. Bradshaw: The arrest and prosecution of anti-trial activists is the responsibility of the relevant police forces in whose areas the Randomised Badger Culling Trial areas are located, and the Crown Prosecution Service. Defra does not receive information on, or maintain records of, such arrests and prosecutions.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what deleterious effects on wildlife arising from the current badger population level have been recorded by her Department and other UK public bodies. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Previous research has shown that there is a negative relationship between badger and hedgehog abundance, i.e. more badgers equals fewer hedgehogs, in rural areas. This is believed to be due to hedgehog predation by badgers and through hedgehogs avoiding areas of higher badger density. However, this is not necessarily a "deleterious effect on wildlife", since predator/prey interactions are a feature of ecosystems. It has been suggested that badgers may impact adversely on some species of ground nesting birds. The interaction between the badgers and other species in the ecosystem is the subject of a study being carried out by the Central Science Laboratory. This study is being conducted in selected areas of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial and the results will not be available until after the fieldwork programme finishes at the end of 2004.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total cost has been of the reactive cull component of the Government's Randomised Badger Culling Trials. 
Mr. Bradshaw: It is not possible to give an accurate cost of the reactive element of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial. The total cost of the trial to the end of March 2004 is forecast to have reached £30.5 million.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many badgers have been killed as part of the Randomised Badger Culling Trials; how many were tested for TB infection; and how many were culture positive for TB. 
Mr. Bradshaw: As at 5 December 2003, 8,276 badgers had been culled in the Randomised Badger Culling Trials. All culled badgers are tested for TB infection. On the advice of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB, data on the prevalence of TB in badgers caught in the trial, along with locations of their capture and the incidence of TB in cattle in trial areas, once triplets are active, are not released. This is to protect the integrity of the trial, and for the security of Defra field staff and farmers co-operating in the work.
Mr. Bradshaw: These are set out in the Second Report of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB. Essentially, over the same time period, the number of cattle herd breakdowns in reactive trial areas are compared with the number of herd breakdowns in the survey only trial areas, taking into account factors such
11 Dec 2003 : Column 540W
as numbers of herds per trial area, timing of tuberculin test and a number of other variables. For analytical purposes, the starting point used for such comparisons, for each triplet, is the end of the initial culling operation in the proactive trial area.
Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will publish the results of the research into the interaction between TB in badgers and TB in cattle. 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 1 December 2003]: The Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISO) intends to publish the results of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial as soon as possible following its predicted conclusion in 2006.
In line with its undertaking to report any significant results that emerge from analyses before the trial's conclusion, the ISO recently reported results that indicated that localised badger culling seemed to increase TB incidence in cattle. These results stem from a comparison between the level of TB incidence in cattle in the reactive culling and the control (no culling) treatment areas. Further information is available from the Defra website http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/tb/index.htm and from a paper the ISO have published in Nature www.nature.com/nature.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what examples there have been of reactive badger culling programmes in England where the work was successful in controlling TB in cattle; and where and when those programmes were carried out. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Since the early 1970s MAFF/Defra has carried out a range of badger control strategies in an attempt to reduce TB incidence in cattle. These were reviewed in the Krebs Report in 1997 where, among other things, it was recommended that a scientific field experiment be set up to test rigorously the effectiveness (and cost-effectiveness) of different badger culling strategies and to provide the evidence on which to base future TB control strategies. The Krebs report recommended a randomised block approach comprising three treatments: reactive culling, proactive culling, and no culling. The Randomised Badger Culling Trial, as recommended by Krebs and designed by the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB, commenced in 1998.
Previous control strategies included Gassing (197582), Clean Ring (198286), Interim (1986 to 1998) and Live Test (199496) further details are available in the Krebs Report Chapter 5 page 76. None of the control strategies has been assessed in a properly designed experiment to establish their efficacy. While removal operations may have had an effect on the prevalence of TB in badgers and on herd breakdowns, other factors may also have influenced these. In the absence of scientific controls, it is not possible to separate out the effects of badger removal from these confounding factors.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the incidence of TB in (a) badgers and (b) cattle in England during (i) 2004 and (ii) 2005. 
11 Dec 2003 : Column 541W
Mr. Bradshaw: It is only possible to make estimates of the incidence of bovine TB in cattle based on previous years. Unfortunately, data for both 2002 and 2001 cannot be easily compared with earlier years. This is because, in 2001, TB testing was largely suspended during the foot and mouth disease outbreak, and in 2002 much of the testing effort was aimed at high-risk herds and those with overdue tests. Nevertheless, early indications suggest that the reduced levels of testing in 2001 have not substantially altered the underlying historical trend of confirmed TB incidents in cattle, which continues to rise at a yearly average rate of about 18 per cent. for new herd incidents.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of the level of funding to laboratories for the examination of bovine samples for M. bovis on the time scale for the testing of samples. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Culture of samples for Mycobacterium bovis (the causative organism for bovine tuberculosis) takes at least six weeks. A backlog of samples built up at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) after the foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2001.
An extra £650,000 funding was made available in 200304 to the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) to tackle the backlog. So far in 2003, the monthly throughput at VLA of bovine samples for culture has been more than three times higher than in 2002. Fresh samples are now being processed as they arrive at VLA and we are further reducing the backlog of frozen samples.
At the end of October 2003 there were 1,781 tissue samples awaiting culture at the VLA (down from 6,329 at the end of March 2003). Nearly all of the outstanding samples (1,712) are from carcases that showed no visible lesions at post-mortem, and thus not causing a delay in lifting movement restrictions from farms.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|