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Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the average time taken in the last 12 months was between the lodging of an appeal in Pakistan against the refusal of entry clearance for settlement and the completion of processing by UKvisas. 
Mr. Mullin: Appeals against the refusal of entry clearance for settlement are processed in the UK by the Appeals Processing Centre of the Home Office. The current average time between receipt of an appeal at our high commission in Islamabad and its dispatch to the appeals processing centre is approximately four months.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how long he estimates that it will take for UKvisas to process the backlog of appeals in Pakistan against the refusal of entry clearance for settlement. 
Mr. Mullin: Appeals against the refusal of entry clearance for settlement are processed in the UK by the appeals processing centre of the Home Office. Our high commission in Islamabad estimates that the average time between receipt of an appeal and its despatch to the
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appeals processing centre will be reduced to three months, in line with UK visas best practice guidelines for the processing of appeals, by the end of January.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the earliest date of an appeal in Pakistan against the refusal of entry clearance for settlement which has yet to be processed is. 
Mr. Mullin: The earliest date of an appeal against the refusal of entry clearance for settlement from our high commission in Islamabad awaiting despatch to the appeals processing centre of the Home Office is 15 August 2003.
The United States is a state party to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC). Under Article X of the convention, a state party is permitted to keep and produce quantities of bacteriological agents for peaceful purposes such as in the production of vaccines.
The US has stated that it only produces small quantities of anthrax for research to develop defensive systems to detect deadly spores in the air and to decontaminate areas in the event of a biological attack.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 16 December 2003, Official Report, column 798W, what the nature was of his conversation with the Russian ambassador regarding the Yukos Affair. 
Mr. Rammell: My conversation with the Russian ambassador ranged over a number of issues but I took the opportunity to raise the "Yukos affair". I expressed the importance we attach to the continuation of the successful reform process in Russia, in which the UK has a significant interest.
I stressed that it is important that foreign investor confidence should be maintained and that Russia continues to be seen as offering an environment in which investors can do business, where the law is applied impartially and with respect for due process.
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and (b) horticultural producers on agrochemicals in each of the past six years for which figures are available. 
However the Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) does receive annual figures of overall turnover of all sales of approved pesticides as a part of its calculation of the pesticide levy to help fund the regulatory process. These cover sales of agricultural, horticultural, amateur, forestry and amenity pesticides.
Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with (a) BAE systems and (b) other manufacturers regarding the timetable for implementation of new aircraft technology which would reduce detrimental effects on air quality. 
b. Greener by Designan industry initiated group looking at innovative solutions to aviation environmental problems. It reported in February 2002 and is now entering a phase of work promoting a range of actions, including technological solutions, to reduce emissions.
Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the company commissioned by her Department to conduct the air quality study around Heathrow has previously conducted studies and research for airlines. 
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Mr. Bradshaw: Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants (CERC) has not previously conducted studies or research for airlines. CERC has previously conducted studies involving airport emissions for local authorities and for BAA plc; a Dublin airport study is ongoing.
Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether interim findings from the study on air quality in the Heathrow area commissioned by her Department have been incorporated in discussions on the proposal for a third runway at Heathrow. 
Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the report on air quality around Heathrow from Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants Ltd. will be discussed with the Department for Transport after its publication. 
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make it her policy to use the proposed Animal Welfare Bill to update the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Yes. The Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963 is one of a number of pieces of legislation relating to captive and domestic animals that my department is looking to revise and consolidate under the proposed Animal Welfare Bill.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her assessment is of the effectiveness of Government attempts (a) to improve the welfare standards of horses being transported for slaughter in Europe within the draft EU regulation and (b) to include within it the dispensation for the UK to maintain protection for its horses; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: One of the aims of the draft EU regulation on the welfare of animals during transport is to improve the welfare of horses transported for slaughter in Europe and the Government welcomes and supports those aspects of the draft. We are also developing measures to protect horses that are based on animal welfare, will further improve horse welfare throughout the EU and that do not rely on special dispensation for the UK.
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Mr. Bradshaw: Mycobacterium bovis may be present within a variety of media on open pasture, each influencing the survival of the bacilli. In cow manure M. bovis may survive for up to four months in autumn, five months in winter and two months in spring, dependent on concentration. Greater concentrations promote survival.
When exposed to sunlight at 2434 degrees celsius M. bovis has survived for 511 months in manure at pasture. Survival in samples buried in 1cm deep pits has been up to one year and at 5cm deep up to two years.
M. bovis can be highly concentrated in badger urine and can survive for over a week on open pasture during the winter but very few bacilli survive after four weeks. During the summer survival can reduce to less than three days in badger urine.
M. bovis in badger bronchial pus and sputum can survive for up to 10 weeks on open pasture in winter but less than one week in summer. Survival in badger faeces can be for up to one month during the winter but less than two weeks in summer.
Survival may also be influenced by the presence of other microorganisms in the environment. Fungi, algae, protozoans and many other bacteria compete with M. bovis for nutrients, may have greater growth rates, and may produce natural antibiotics.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many TB reactor cattle were reported to her Department and its predecessors, (a) in each year from 1990 to 2002 and (b) from 1 January to 31 October; how many were subject to culture testing; and how many proved TB positive on culture. 
Table 2 gives provisional data for the number of TB reactors, the number subject to culture, and the number successfully cultured for Mycobacterium bovis in Great Britain for 2003 (till end of October).
|Number of TB Reactors||Number Subject To Culture Testing||TB Positive on Culture|
(1) Data not available
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|January to October 2003|
|Number of TB Reactors||17,589|
|Number Subject To Culture||12,228|
|TB Positive on Culture||2,681|
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many badgers were culled in each reactive area as part of the Independent Science Group study into bovine TB. 
|Triplet||Name of reactivetreatment area||Number of badgers culled|
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has for post movement testing of cattle for exposure to M.bovis; and what assessment she has made of the implications of such testing (a) within four months of movement and (b) by the date of the next due test of the herd from which the animal came. 
Mr. Bradshaw: All farmers have been sent a leaflet "Golden rules for a healthy herd", which advises purchasers to check the disease status of cattle prior to purchase and to consider arranging a private TB test for their herd.
In February 2003, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced a review of our bovine tuberculosis strategy. Early in the new year we will be publishing a consultation document which will represent the outcome of the first stage of that review. The consultation document will include proposals for short term measures for reducing the risk of geographic spread of bovine TB from high to low incidence areas, including consideration of proposals for the pre and/or post movement testing of cattle.
When considering post-movement testing of cattle sold from farm to farm, we have envisaged that, as a general rule, such tests would be administered between 60 and 120 days after movement (i.e. 24 months post movement). This is to ensure that a minimum of 60 days have elapsed since the last test and since any potential exposure to M.bovis on the premises of origin, to avoid problems of de-sensitisation caused by recent testing and to allow for the normal delay in the development of a response to the skin test. Knowledge of whether a pre-movement test had taken place and when, would allow the post movement test to be better targeted.
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Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the recognised minimum time required is from exposure of cattle to M.bovis to an immune response which will show in the skin test used by her Department. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The immune response elicited by Mycobacterium bovis in cattle takes several weeks to develop to a stage where it is detectable. For the single intradermal comparative test used in the UK and Ireland, this period of "unresponsiveness" or latency varies between 30 and 50 days.
To allow for random and natural variation in the latency period of individual animals, the legislation requires repeat testing to be carried out at intervals of at least 60 days from the date of the removal (or isolation) of all the reactors identified at the previous skin test.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what significant variations in incubation period have been observed in herd breakdowns involving several cattle reactors resulting from infection with M.bovis. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Many factors influence the progression of Mycobacterium bovis, infection into detectable disease, including the strain of the bacterium, size of bacterial challenge and route of infection. Other factors include affected animal (species, breed, genotype, age) or the effects of its environment (nutritional status, stress, other infections and environmental bacteria).
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many strains of M.bovis have been found in (a) cattle and (b) badgers in the UK; and what assessment has been made of the virulence of each strain. 
Mr. Bradshaw: M.bovis isolates are routinely typed using a DNA fingerprinting technique called spoligotyping. In Great Britain 30 different spoligotypes have been identified in cattle and in 16 badgers. Of those in cattle, 12 of those account for 99 per cent. of the isolates.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of whether development of lesions in cattle following exposure to M.bovis is the result of (a) a more virulent strain, (b) the level of infective dose and (c) the frequency of the infective dose. 
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average length of herd breakdown was in (a) 200203 and (b) 1998; how many 60 day tests were needed to clear (i) suspect and (ii) infected herds in each year; and what the cost of the tests were. 
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(a) The average duration of TB incidents ending in 2002 was skewed by those herds already restricted when TB testing was suspended during the foot and mouth disease outbreak of 2001. The figures for TB incidents ending in 2002 (the last year for which statistics are available) were as follows: unconfirmed incidents149 days; confirmed incident291 days.
(b) The mean length of unconfirmed new TB incidents (herd breakdowns) ending in 1998 was 114 days, i.e. slightly less than two short interval (60-day) tests. In the same year, the mean length of confirmed new incidents was 208 days.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of badgers which appeared TB free in post-mortem examination were culture positive to M.bovis, in the last year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The last year for which data are available is 1999. These are from Badger Removal Operations and the Road Traffic Accident (RTA) survey that predate the Randomised Badger Culling Trial and associated RTA survey.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of cattle showed no visible lesions in post mortem examination but were culture positive for M.bovis, in the last year for which figures are available. 
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