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Horse Passports

13. Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West) (Con): How many horses have been issued with passports. [2613]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Jim Knight): Based on the data that we have received from English Passport issuing organisations, 580,183 passports have been issued, and a further 24,915 applications are currently being processed. Among those issued include two by the Arab Horse Society for my family's two horses, Merlin and Shadow.

Mr. Swayne: I thank the Minister for that response and for those large numbers. He will appreciate that under his regulations horses have a greater need of passports than we do—they require them even to breed. Given that, how many passports does the hon. Gentleman imagine have yet to be applied for and issued? What is the current level of compliance?

Mr. Knight: We are pleased with the level of compliance. We are pleased also with the welcome that we have had for the horse passport scheme from horse welfare societies such as the International League for the Protection of Horses. Passports are a good thing. They reduce the risks for the continued availability of many commonly used veterinary medicines; they discourage indiscriminate breeding of horses and ponies; and they also discourage theft, because the sale and certain use of horses are now dependent on the passport accompanying the horse.

Fishing Industry

14. Mr. Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD): If she will make a statement on prospects for the fishing industry. [2614]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): The prospects for the fishing industry are good so long as fishing effort is set according to the health of fish stocks. I was pleased that following assiduous lobbying by the hon. Gentleman I was able to persuade the European Fisheries Council to remove the haddock permit scheme, which I know has been warmly welcomed by the hon. Gentleman's constituents.

Mr. Carmichael: I thank the Minister for that answer. I welcome his return to the fishing brief. As we view the
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prospects of taking the presidency of the Fisheries Council, his presence offers us a welcome element of continuity. Will he use his time in the chair of the Fisheries Council to address the wide discrepancy that is now reported among member states in the imposition of penalties for breach of fishing regulations? He will be aware that last week the Commission published a report indicating that penalties range from £189 in Finland to £52,000 in this country, and that there is an EU average of £3,130. If we are to be part of a common policy, surely our fishermen deserve fairer treatment than that.

Mr. Bradshaw: The hon. Gentleman is quite right. I am grateful for his kind remarks about the importance of the forthcoming presidency and the chairmanship of European Council meetings that I will share with my right hon. and hon. Friends across the Government. He is quite right about the importance of a level playing field. The British Government take that extremely seriously, as does the Commission. The new Commissioner, Joe Borg, has introduced an action plan to ensure that the penalties to which the hon. Gentleman referred are much more equal in the common fisheries policy. If we do not have a level playing field on enforcement, it is not a genuinely common fisheries policy at all.

Energy-efficient Housing

15. Mr. Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth, East) (Con): What discussions she has had with the Department of Health on measures to promote access to energy-efficient housing as a national public health priority. [2616]

The Minister for Climate Change and the Environment (Mr. Elliot Morley): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has had no direct discussion with the Department of Health on this matter. However, we fully recognise the health benefits that can come from improving the energy standards of housing, and that is a key factor in the development of our programmes to tackle fuel poverty and improve the energy efficiency of housing.

Mr. Ellwood: That answer is a little disappointing. Surely, this should be a priority. The Government should state exactly what their intentions are and, indeed, lay out a time scale for such programmes.

Mr. Morley: We are reviewing the issue of energy-efficient housing, as I spelt out in my previous answer. Energy efficiency reduces emissions and costs, but there are also health benefits, which we take seriously and which we address through a cross-government approach.

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Business of the House

11.31 am

Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell) (Con): Will the Leader of the House give us the business for next week?

The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon): The business for next week will be as follows:

Monday 13 June—Consideration in Committee of the Finance Bill.

Tuesday 14 June—Second Reading of the National Lottery Bill.

Wednesday 15 June—A debate on European affairs on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Thursday 16 June—Second Reading of the Transport (Wales) Bill, followed by a motion to approve the direction given by the Secretary of State under section 51B (2) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Friday 17 June—The House will not be sitting.

The provisional business for the week after will be as follows:

Monday 20 June—Second Reading of the Violent Crime Reduction Bill.

Tuesday 21 June—Second Reading of the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill.

Wednesday 22 June—Opposition Day [2nd Allotted Day]. There will be a debate on an Opposition motion. Subject to be announced.

Thursday 23 June—Second Reading of the Regulation of Financial Services (Land Transactions) Bill.

Friday 24 June—The House will not be sitting.

I should also like to inform the House that the business in Westminster Hall for the remainder of June will be as follows:

Thursday 16 June—A debate on the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Thursday 23 June—A debate on recent developments in volunteering.

Thursday 30 June—A debate on turning around problem estates.

Chris Grayling: Will the Leader of the House explain why there has not been a statement in the House about the Government's plan to introduce road pricing? You will know, Mr. Speaker, that details of the proposals were leaked to the media last weekend and that the Secretary of State for Transport is making a speech about his plans to the Social Market Foundation tonight, yet we have not heard anything in the House. Does the Leader of the House not believe that there should have been a statement this week, and what does he plan to do to rectify the situation? Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, you will recall giving clear guidance at the beginning of this Parliament that major policy announcements should be made to the House, not to the media and outside groups. In this case, that guidance seems to have been completely ignored. Does the Leader of the House defend that, or does he agree with me that it is time for the House to say that enough is enough. When a Minister behaves in the cavalier way the
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Secretary of State for Transport has behaved this week, it is time for the House to take action to reprimand them—possibly to suspend them.

Will the right hon. Gentleman set aside Government time for a debate in the House on Britain's bid for the 2012 Olympics? Does he agree that in the remaining few weeks before the decision it is important for the House and hon. Members to make their support for the bid quite clear? Will he provide an opportunity for us to do so and express our support for the efforts of Lord Coe, his team and the people of London? Will the right hon. Gentleman provide time as soon as possible for a debate on the implementation of the Licensing Act 2003? He will be aware that the deadlines for registration are fast approaching and that many small clubs, sporting organisations and others are not fully aware of the requirements that they need to fulfil under the Act. Will he make sure that we have the opportunity to raise those issues in the House and do what we can to make those involved aware of the situation?

Finally, will the Leader of the House organise as a matter of urgency a statement on the situation in Zimbabwe? He will have seen—I am sure with the shock and discomfort that I suspect all Members of this House felt—developments in the past few weeks involving clearances and people being rendered homeless. It would be appropriate for the House to have an opportunity to address those issues quickly, and I hope that he will share that view and do something about it.

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