|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her estimate is of total expenditure by her Department on (a) focus groups and (b) opinion polls in each year from 199596 to 200304; and if she will make a statement. 
While information is not held in the format requested, centrally-held records show that we have spent in the region of £345,000 on external market research and focus group research since Defra's creation in June 2001.
Mr. Bradshaw: We are currently consulting on a draft Order that will enable us to set up the new compensation scheme. The Order sets out a timescale for payment. We expect to have made the majority of compensation payments by the end of the year.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with the Department for Trade and Industry regarding the exclusion of drinking water from the General Agreement on Trade in Services. 
[holding answer 27 April 2004]: The Department has been fully consulted by the Department for Trade and Industry at all stages of the GATS negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), including the EU draft offer and requests on services.
16 Jun 2004 : Column 952W
The GATS negotiations are conducted on a request and offer basis, in which one WTO Member makes a request and the requested Member considers how to respond. Requests are no more than that. A country to whom a request has been addressed is not obliged to meet the request, whether fully, partially or even at all. Therefore it is entirely up to an individual member as to whether they include drinking water in their GATS offer.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to announce emissions reductions targets for greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: The UK has a target under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions of a basket of six greenhouse gases by 12.5 per cent. below 1990 levels by 200812. The six gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride.
The Government has also set itself a domestic goal of moving towards a 20 per cent. reduction in carbon dioxide emissions below 1990 levels by 2010 and is putting the UK on a path to a 60 per cent. reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
The Government has no current plans to set itself targets to reduce emissions of other greenhouse gases. The UK's domestic goals focus on carbon dioxide, as it is the most important greenhouse gas in the UK, accounting for 85 per cent. of the direct global warming potential of emissions in 2002. Although we have not set a target beyond 200812 for non-CO 2 greenhouse gases, we will continue with our efforts to reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases.
Mr. Bradshaw: The Republic of Ireland Department of Agriculture has not yet published scientific papers on the findings a four-year badger culling trial (the "Four Area" Trial). The trial involves eliminating badgers over large areas to ascertain the effect on the incidence of bovine TB.
Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the geographical incidence of grey squirrels in England; and what data is held by her Department on the spread of populations of grey squirrels since the species' introduction. 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 10 June 2004]: The first documented release of grey squirrels into the UK was in 1876 in Cheshire, with subsequent introduction to sites ranging from Glamorgan to Kent totalling more than 350 individuals. Grey squirrels are now present in every English county and absent only from parts of Cumbria and Northumberland, a small area of the Sefton coast, the Isle of Wight and Poole harbour islands.
Numbers of grey squirrels fluctuate considerably between years. However, the population was estimated at 2.5 million in the 1990s and it is likely to have increased since then as their range has expanded. Through the Tracking Mammals Partnership, funding has been secured from both Joint Nature Conservation Committee and Peoples' Trust for Endangered Species for a scoping study to investigate monitoring strategies for squirrels to address these issues.
Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect of grey squirrels on indigenous flora and fauna; and what recent research studies into the ecological effects of grey squirrels her Department has carried out. 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 10 June 2004]: The impact of the introduced grey squirrel on the native red squirrel is well known. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the spread of the grey has been closely linked with the decline and disappearance of the red squirrel from most of England. Although the two species may co-exist in some areas for many years, it seems that sooner or later the greys will dominate and the reds disappear. The exact mechanism for this replacement is not entirely clear; some recent work confirms the importance of interspecific competition, but a disease, parapox virus, which is harmless to greys but fatal to reds, may also be involved.
Squirrel presence surveys carried out by the Forestry Commission since the 1950s recorded the presence of bark stripping damage to individual tree species in woodlands. During 2000 a survey of private and state owned woodlands within the distribution range of grey squirrels in Great Britain further investigated damage levels by recording damage severity. Current studies are investigating the effect of grey squirrel bark stripping damage to oak in terms of tree growth rates.
The review "Possible effects of grey squirrels on birds and other wildlife", published in British Wildlife in February 2004, reviewed evidence of predation by squirrels on birds' eggs and nestlings, potential competition with birds for nest sites and food and competition with native mammals. Possible effects on woodland structure through their bark stripping activities and as a predator of tree seeds and bulbs were also considered.
Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect of grey squirrels on the geographical incidence of the indigenous red squirrel population in England. 
[holding answer 10 June 2004]: Historical data show red squirrels to have been ubiquitous throughout England until the 1920s. Since
16 Jun 2004 : Column 954W
the grey squirrel was released in the late 19th and early 20th century and their subsequent spread, the red squirrel has suffered a concurrent range contraction.
The red squirrel seems to have made some small gains in the Yorkshire Dales, where it has been able to expand into plantations that are now maturing and producing good crops of the pine cones that it needs.
The continuing expansion of the grey squirrel is to be expected and red squirrel conservation is focused on limiting that expansion in areas where the two species overlap. Some significant progress has been made in developing more effective and targeted ways of defending healthy populations of red squirrels against replacement by the grey squirrel.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will support the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) sponsored project to study the behaviour of whales in the sea off the West Coast of Iceland; and if she will make representations to the Icelandic Government to persuade them to accede to IFAW's request to undertake this research. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The request by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to the Government of Iceland for permission to study the behaviour of whales in the sea off the West Coast of Iceland was made through our embassy at Reykjavik. Our ambassador has since raised the application in contacts at senior level at both the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Prime Minister. The Government of Iceland can be in no doubt of Her Majesty's Government's full support for this request and the aims and objectives of the IFAW sponsored project. We will continue to press for a favourable response.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|