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Animal Welfare

8. Mrs. Anne Campbell (Cambridge) (Lab): When she expects to publish the draft Bill on animal welfare. [146376]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): We hope to publish a draft animal welfare Bill in the first half of this year.

Mrs. Campbell : I am pleased to hear that news, but may I tell my hon. Friend about an appalling story that appeared in my local paper just a few months ago? Two young children went into a pet shop and bought a hamster. They then tied the hamster to a firework and ignited the firework, killing the hamster. Does he not agree that it is now urgent that the age at which children can buy pets should be raised to 16, and will he consider including such a provision in the animal welfare Bill?

Mr. Bradshaw: This is certainly one of the issues that will be included in the consideration of our animal welfare Bill. My hon. Friend might already know that this will be the first opportunity for 100 years to make major improvements to our animal welfare legislation. The distressing activity that she has described is covered by existing law, but I recognise that a number of areas need tightening up. I hope that she and other colleagues with an interest in these issues will help us to produce a good piece of legislation that will stand the test of time.

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Transport (Environmental Impacts)

9. Sue Doughty (Guildford) (LD): What recent discussions she has had with the Department for Transport with regard to the environmental impacts of transport. [146377]

The Minister for the Environment (Mr. Elliot Morley): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and other DEFRA Ministers have regular discussions with the ministerial team in the Department for Transport on many matters, including the environmental impacts of transport.

Sue Doughty : I thank the Minister for that answer. Is he aware of the deep concern resulting from DEFRA's failure to provide sufficient sites for hazardous waste when co-location ends in July this year? In a written answer to me on 6 January, there was no indication of any discussions being held with the Department for Transport about the environmental impact of lorries full of toxic waste having to travel many excess miles across the country. Will the Minister discuss this issue with his colleagues at the Department for Transport as a matter of urgency? Will he also apologise to the people who are going to have to put up with those lorries full of toxic waste going past their houses, and for DEFRA's failure in this respect?

Mr. Morley: It is premature to talk about failure when the issue has not yet been put in place. The Government have set up the hazardous waste forum, where there is a dialogue between the Government and the industry on how those issues are being tackled and resolved. I will be meeting industry representatives in the very near future to talk face to face about the practical issues, which we recognise, and the hon. Lady should understand that the regulations that prevent co-disposal in existing sites do not prevent the construction of a separate cell, where hazardous waste can continue to be put on site, but apart from domestic waste. I am surprised that that issue has not emerged in the discussion that is taking place. That is not, in itself, a difficult technical solution, and some potential consequences of these changes have been grossly exaggerated.

Mr. Michael Meacher (Oldham, West and Royton) (Lab): Is it not inconsistent for the Government to pursue demand management for road transport via motorway tolling and congestion charging only for the aviation White Paper to reject demand management in respect of air travel, where the climate change impacts are far greater? What is my hon. Friend doing to ensure that air transport is urgently brought within the Kyoto protocol, that emission caps are allocated to airlines so that they can be progressively reduced via emissions trading over time and that enforceable limits on noise and air pollution are placed on individual airports so that local residents do not bear all the environmental costs?

Mr. Morley: On the latter point, I can assure my right hon. Friend that the White Paper addresses the issue of environmental impact on people who live adjacent to airports and, indeed, flight paths. I accept the main thrust of his argument in that the air transport industry

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cannot continue to expect to be exempt from regulations and controls relating to carbon dioxide and its impact on the environment. We are having discussions with the EU about applying carbon trading to EU flights. He will be aware, of course, that this is a global industry; a global solution is required. We should not rule out any approach when considering the growth in air transport. That growth is a reality—we cannot ignore that either—but we must accept that the industry globally must come within controls that recognise its environmental impact and also the matter of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Mrs. Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con): The Minister says that he has regular discussions with the Department for Transport, but a clear gap in those discussions was identified by the Environmental Audit Committee, which criticised the Government for their failure to undertake a proper environmental impact assessment of their plans for airport expansion. That omission has been compounded by the White Paper, which has spread blight far wider than was necessary. The Department for Transport has said that airport operators will have to pay for the problem of generalised blight, but what assessment has his Department made of the impact on council tax payers where the airport is in local authority control?

Mr. Morley: On the latter point, there are a number of airports under local authority control, many of which were pressing the Government for expansion along the lines set out in the White Paper. Of course there will be costs, which we would expect the airport authorities to deal with. They understand that very well in relation to their expansion plans.

We recognise the potential for impact assessments and DEFRA has been sponsoring a study on the effects of aircraft noise on children in schools, for example, as part of our commitment to a proper evaluation of the potential impact of pollution at all levels, whether it is noise pollution, air pollution or any form of pollution from the airports. We take these things seriously; they are being addressed. Any airport that is subject to an expansion plan would be expected to do the environmental impact assessment.

Horse Passports

10. Mr. David Cameron (Witney) (Con): What estimate she has made of the cost of enforcing new legislation on horse passports; and if she will make a statement. [146378]

The Minister for Rural Affairs and Local Environmental Quality (Alun Michael): The horse passports regulations will be enforced in two ways. Local authority trading standards officers will be responsible for enforcing the requirement to have a passport. The Meat Hygiene Service will be responsible for enforcing the legislation at the slaughterhouse. Enforcement will be subsumed in existing responsibilities and resources.

Mr. Cameron: What will the Department tell people when they see an army of snoopers paid for with council tax to inspect their stables; when they see a law that has

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been condemned as defective by a Committee of the House; and when they see a measure that excludes most wild ponies, which do occasionally—and regrettably—end up in the food chain, while including donkeys and other ponies, virtually none of which do? Why have the Government wasted so much time in introducing such a ridiculous piece of bureaucracy just so that the French can go on eating horsemeat?

Alun Michael: The hon. Gentleman obviously knows very little about the legislation and the reasons for it. It will clearly surprise him to learn that it has strong support in the horse industry.

The advantage of the horse passport system, apart from the identification of horses and the meeting of our obligations under the legislation, is that the industry will be able to go on using the methods that it currently uses, which are extremely valid and would not be used unless the regulations were in place.

Mr. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire) (Con): That was an amazing reply. The National Audit Office has confirmed that the British Cattle Movement Service has lost more than 100,000 cattle, at a cost to the British taxpayer of £15 million a year. Can the Minister name three clear lessons from that fiasco to prove to the House that this latest bureaucratic nightmare will not lose a similar number of horses?

Alun Michael: It was an amazing reply because it was made in response to an amazing question from an Opposition Back Bencher, but the Front Benchers are even better: they do not seem to understand the difference between horses and cattle.

We have introduced a statutory instrument that responds to our discussions with the industry about the most efficient and co-operative way of implementing legislation. It is a good example of the Government working with the horse industry and recognising the contribution that it makes to this country and the economy of rural areas. I must say to the hon. Gentleman that that was never done by his party when it was in government.

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