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Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons her Department has not issued a consultation document on its plans for the budget for the support of beekeepers in England. 
It is not our practice to issue consultation documents on expenditure plans. We plan to issue a consultation document on our proposal to
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remove European foul brood from the list of notifiable diseases of bees in the winter of 200607, when further data on the effectiveness of the 'shook swarm' technique will be available.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will publish the new general licence WLF18 for the control of certain species of birds which came into effect on 1 March 2005. 
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the circumstances in which controlling pigeons on growing crops by non-lethal methods wouldbe (a) less effective and (b) less practical than shooting. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Defra have made no such specific assessment. However, in December 2003 the Central Science Laboratory published a report on the 'Review of international research literature regarding the effectiveness of auditory bird scaring techniques and potential alternatives'. A copy of this report can be found at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/noise/birdscaring/birdscaring.pdf
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under what legal authority she transferred the responsibility given to her by S.16 (1A) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to decide whether there is no other satisfactory solution other than killing certain birds, to the authorised persons under the terms of the General Licence WLF18. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Secretary of State has not transferred the responsibility given to her by S.16 (1A) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to decide whether there is no other satisfactory solution other than killing certain birds, to the authorised persons under the terms of the General Licence WLF18.
The wording of three of the licences (prevention of damage/spread of disease, public safety and air safety) was changed to include reference to the authorised person satisfying himself regarding the effectiveness of alternative methods of control. The new condition was included in order to clarify that general licences properly meet our EC obligations by providing for an assessment of alternatives on a case by case basis.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish guidance to persons authorised under general licence WLF 18 on the criteria they should use to assess whether appropriate non-lethal methods of control are ineffective or impracticable. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Defra issued a press release on 9 March 2005 announcing the latest revisions to the general licence condition regarding non-lethal methods of control. There are no plans to publish further guidance.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish advice she has received concerning the legal interpretation of condition 4 of general licence WLF18. 
Mr. Bradshaw: It is necessary for Defra, and other Government Departments, to obtain legal advice in order to formulate policy. Without such comprehensive advice the quality of the Government's decision making would be much reduced since it would not be fully informed and this would be contrary to the public interest.
Disclosure of legal advice has a significant potential to prejudice the Government's ability to defend its legal interestsboth directly, by unfairly exposing its legal position to challenge, and indirectly by diminishing the reliance it can place on the advice having been fully considered and presented without fear or favour. Neither of these scenarios is in the public interest
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether her Department plans to amend its policy on the control of fish-eating wildlife other than cormorants. 
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action her Department is taking to ensure that the granting of licences for the control of cormorants does not lead to the killing of nesting birds. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Licences to shoot cormorants are normally issued between 31 August and 15 April which avoids the main cormorant breeding season (eggs: 20 March to 1 July, unfledged young: 20 April to 1 September). Some licences are extended to 30 April if smolt runs are likely to be affected by cormorant predation.
The presence of a cormorant nesting site close to a proposed licensed site is taken into consideration when assessing the suitability of the site for licensed action; the licence period may be adjusted to avoid taking cormorants which may have dependent young.
English Nature is consulted on all applications for licences to shoot cormorants outside of t he normal" period of 31 August to 15 April. These applications may be refused on the basis of humaneness if nesting cormorants and their young are likely to be affected.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many individuals of each bird species, other than cormorants,
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have been killed as a result of licences granted to control cormorants since the change of policy on cormorant control. 
Licences are granted for the shooting of a specific number of cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) for a specific purpose (usually preventing serious damage to fisheries) and within a specified location and time frame. This is all clearly laid out on the licence. The shooting of any other species not identified on the licence, whether deliberate or by accident, is not authorised by the licence. A condition of a licence to shoot cormorants is to provide six-monthly returns of the number of cormorants shot under licence. Information on the accidental (or otherwise) shooting of other species is not requested.
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