Previous Section Index Home Page

6 Jan 2004 : Column 250W—continued

Bovine TB (Badgers)

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment has been made of whether badgers infected by TB may excrete urine from which viable m. bovis bacilli may be isolated; what the typical quantities per millilitre are; and whether such levels are capable of causing infection in cattle through (a) contamination of feed and (b) other mechanisms. [144445]

Mr. Bradshaw: Some badgers develop TB infection in the kidneys 37 per cent. of infected badgers sampled post mortem between 1971 and 1978 m. bovis was isolated from the kidneys and may excrete m. bovis bacilli in urine. Urine is typically left in trails up to a metre or

6 Jan 2004 : Column 251W

more in length and may be focussed at a latrine or distributed more randomly as the badger forages. Concentrations of up to 300,000 bacilli per ml of badger urine have been reported and experimental nasal inoculation of cattle suggests that, at this concentration of viable microbes, less than 0.03 ml would need to be inhaled by cattle in order to promote slow infection.

Investigations into infection of cattle from feed and other sources contaminated with infected badger urine are lacking. However, risk of infection to cattle by infected badger urine on cattle feed would be a function of the survival of the microbe in the feed (which is dependent on, for example, duration since excretion, moisture content of the environment, exposure to UV rays) the number of microbes consumed by the cattle and the method of consumption (i.e. ingestion or inhalation). I am unaware of measurements of m. bovis survival in cattle feed but the environment inside farm buildings is generally considered to be conducive to longer periods of survival than at pasture, where m. bovis in badger urine has survived for three days in summer and 28 days in winter.

Cattle appear less able to detect badger urine than faeces at pasture away from latrines. In addition, patches contaminated with urine detected by cattle appear to be sniffed more than those contaminated with faeces. Furthermore, some cattle do not select against latrines and freely graze over them. Therefore, potential sources of risk of cattle contact with infected badger urine include the ingestion of contaminated feed from feed stores or in troughs; investigation/grazing at and around latrines; and the investigation/grazing of contaminated pasture.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what controls there are on the movement of wild badgers, for relocation elsewhere, with particular reference to Krebs trapping areas. [144446]

Mr. Bradshaw: Badgers are a protected species and it is an offence to take (or attempt to take) a badger from the wild, including for the purpose of relocation elsewhere (Protection of Badgers Act 1992, s.1(1)). A person guilty of this offence is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for up to six months and/or a fine of up to £5,000.

There are certain exceptions to this offence, two of which are specifically relevant to the issue of relocating badgers. These are the treatment of injured or sick badgers, and relocations licensed by the appropriate statutory conservation agency or agricultural department (English Nature and Defra, respectively, in England).

Under section 6, a person is not guilty of an offence by reason only of:

As a native species, there are no specific restrictions under current law regulating where badgers are released once they have recovered. Normally, once fit enough to

6 Jan 2004 : Column 252W

be released into the wild, the badger will be returned to the location where it was originally found. This approach is recommended on welfare grounds due to their territorial nature, and also to avoid any risk of transmitting disease. However, there are situations in which this course of action may not be feasible (particularly in the case of orphaned cubs).

There is a voluntary code of practice covering the rehabilitation and release of badgers, and this has a precautionary approach aimed at minimising the risk of transmitting bovine tuberculosis (TB). All badgers to be relocated are tested for TB three times. Only animals testing negative to all three tests are released and any animal testing positive is euthanased. The code also requires that all released badgers are permanently marked (by a tattoo or microchip) and registered. The code is available via the internet at: http://www.

Under section 10 of the Act, licences may be issued to permit badgers to be taken from the wild (and relocated if necessary) for a limited range of specified purposes, including scientific investigation, preventing the spread of disease, and preventing serious damage to property.

Relocating badgers is only permitted where there is considered to be a very low risk of transmitting TB, and before any badgers are released at a new location all animals are tested three times for the disease. All badgers testing positive to any of the three tests, or in contact with a badger testing positive, are euthanased.

Badgers are not relocated as part of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (the so-called Kreb's trial), and the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB have advised that are no special arrangements relating to the relocation of badgers in trial areas.

Combined Heat and Power

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what incentive she provides for energy companies to set up combined heat and power initiatives; and what assessment she has made of the benefits for consumers. [142039]

Mr. Bradshaw: Incentives introduced recently to encourage CHP schemes include: exemption of Good Quality CHP electricity from the Climate Change Levy; eligibility of Good Quality CHP for Enhanced Capital Allowances and business rates exemption on plant and machinery. Consumers benefit financially from CHP by saving up to 40 per cent. on fuel bills. There are also environmental benefits through reduced carbon emissions. Energy companies can also use CHP as a measure to meet their Energy Efficiency Commitment targets.

Committee on Radioactive Waste Management

Dr. Jack Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will take steps to ensure that the knowledge and experience of the management of nuclear materials held by people in West Cumbria are represented on the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management; and if she will make a statement. [142447]

6 Jan 2004 : Column 253W

Mr. Morley [holding answer 9 December 2003]: CoRWM members have been appointed upon the basis advertised on 26 March 2003 and in line with procedures laid down by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. This provided a good field of over 400 candidates for membership, from which we have been able to appoint a strong committee.

CoRWM's task will be to oversee a debate and assessment, involving both the public and stakeholder groups, of the way in which the UK's higher activity radioactive wastes should be managed over the long term and to provide UK Government and devolved administration Ministers with recommendations.

CoRWM is an independent body that itself decides how it conducts its work. But it is clearly important that West Cumbria should be strongly represented in the debate which CoRWM will be launching and overseeing. The committee must deliver recommendations that can be seen to have a broad degree of support, and the views of the people of West Cumbria will be particularly significant given their experience and the stake that they have in the safe management of the UK's radioactive waste. CoRWM is required to take into account all views supplied to it in arriving at its recommendations.

Common Agricultural Policy

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the impact of the Common Agricultural Policy reform package of 26 June on tenant farmers in the UK. [143553]

Mr. Bradshaw: No specific assessment has been undertaken of the impact of the CAP reform proposals on tenant farmers. However, we have assessed the impacts of the proposals on farming and other businesses generally in England, including an analysis by farm activity, and a summary of these is included in the Regulatory Impact Assessments which have been lodged in the House Libraries. An additional analysis looking at the impact on distribution of payments of various options for operating the Single Payment Scheme has also been carried out and a copy has been placed in the Library of the House. Our economists are continuing to analyse the potential impact of different methods of making the Single Payment.

For the first time, the bulk of farm subsidy will not be dependent on what or how much farmers produce. As with the previous system, subsidy would be paid to the farmer, whether owner or tenant, will continue to hold the subsidy entitlement. Tenant farmers, along with other farmers, will therefore be free to produce what they judge the market wants and so be better able to cut costs and increase profits. Farmers will also be freed from some of the bureaucracy associated with the subsidy schemes which are being replaced by the new decoupled subsidy.

Mr. Wills: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total cost of the common agricultural policy in the United Kingdom was to (a) consumers and (b) taxpayers; and what the costs were to (i) United Kingdom taxpayers and (ii) consumers, broken down by agricultural

6 Jan 2004 : Column 254W

commodity supported by the common agricultural policy in the most recent year for which figures are available. [144459]

Mr. Bradshaw: The consumer cost of the CAP can be estimated by examining the difference between UK and world prices for agricultural food products. Our latest provisional estimates for 2002 show a cost of the CAP to consumers of around £3.3 billion.

The notional taxpayer contribution to CAP expenditure can also be estimated though, in practice, UK taxpayers contribute to the whole EU budget rather than to specific components. We estimate that, in 2002, this notional cost to UK taxpayers of expenditure under the CAP was around £3.5 billion.

The following table shows an approximate breakdown of consumer support between agricultural commodities. These estimates have, in the main, been compiled using the methodology utilised by the OECD to produce their estimates of the Consumer Support Estimate. It should be noted that the aggregate estimates will be more robust than estimates for the individual commodities. It is particularly difficult to determine the appropriate gap between UK and world prices for products whose specification varies, such as fruit and vegetables, or pigs, eggs and poultry.

£ million

Sugar beet130
Beef and veal770
Pigs, eggs and poultry700
Fruit and vegetables290

UK taxpayers contribute to the entire EU budget rather than to specific programmes. Whilst it is possible to provide an illustrative estimate of the notional contribution to the FEOGA budget, it is not feasible to do so by commodity. However, the following table sets out the share of FEOGA spending by sector.

CAP categoriesShare of expenditure (percentage)
Arable crops43
Oils, fats and protein plants6
Fruit and vegetables4
Milk products5
Meat, eggs and poultry18
Various markets3
Other operations3
Rural development10

Next Section Index Home Page