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27 Jun 2005 : Column 1189W—continued

Departmental Staff

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many registered (a) nutritionists and (b) dieticians she employs within her Department. [5298]

Jim Knight: There are no registered nutritionists or dieticians employed within DEFRA or its executive agencies.

Endangered Species Regulations

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what responses she received on the draft statutory instrument on Control in Trade of Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 2005; and if she will make a statement; [6744]

(2) whether she intends to increase the maximum sentence for all offences under the Control in Trade of Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 2005 to five years as provided for in section 307 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003; and if she will make a statement; [6745]

(3) when she intends to introduce secondary legislation under section 307 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 increasing the maximum sentence for the illegal trade in endangered species. [6746]

Jim Knight: We have received 53 responses to the consultation on the draft Statutory Instrument. We are considering these responses and plan to publish an amended Statutory Instrument later in the year.
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I have today laid before Parliament the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) (Amendment) Regulations 2005 which increase the maximum penalty for certain offences to five years imprisonment. The regulations will come into force on 21 July.

Equine Passports

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether all equines are required to have a passport. [6193]

Jim Knight: The Horse Passports (England) Regulations 2004 require owners in England of horses, ponies and other equines to obtain a passport for each such animal they own within specified time limits. Similar requirements apply in the rest of the UK.

There are limited exceptions for ponies on Dartmoor and in the New Forest which will only need a passport when they move from these areas. The New Forest Verderers and the Dartmoor Commoners Council are each obliged to maintain a list, which individually identifies all such horses and ponies.

Owners of horses brought into England do not need to apply for a passport if the horse or other equine remains in England for less than 30 days. Again, similar provision applies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland regards horses and other equines brought into those territories.

These measures apply to animals of equine or asinine species, or crossbreeds of those species, but do not apply to zebras.

Flood Defences

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what technologies were used in drawing up the Environment Agency flood maps; and what steps her Department is taking to improve the accuracy of the maps. [6548]

Mr. Morley: Flood risk mapping is an important part of our and the Environment Agency's public awareness strategy, to ensure that flood risk is better understood by all concerned including people living and working in the floodplains and those responsible for development control and emergency planning.

The Environment Agency's Flood Map is the result of years of investment in river and coastal floodplain surveys, hydrological and hydraulic modelling and mapping of land at risk from flooding. The best available technologies, science and leading engineering consultancies have been used for each element of the mapping that was appropriate to the geographical scale under consideration. By combining the mapping into one product the Environment Agency has produced the most comprehensive and accurate publicly available Flood Map for England and Wales.

The Environment Agency, through their flood mapping strategy, is continuing to invest in extending and improving their understanding of flood risk with a planned expenditure on flood mapping of £8.5 million in 2005–06. Three-monthly updates are produced, which incorporate the latest data into the Flood Map. The Flood Map is available on the internet and it is also
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provided directly to planning authorities and the emergency services to help with planning and preparing for future flooding.

Laptop Computers

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many laptop computers have been used by (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) officials in her Department in each year since 1995; how many have been (i) lost and (ii) stolen in that period; what the cost was of the use of laptops in that period; and if she will make a statement. [4127]

Jim Knight: The Department has only been in existence since June 2001. Information covering earlier periods is therefore not available.

The number of laptop computers available for use is:
Financial year
Special advisersn/a2

n/a = Not available

It should be noted that the laptops shown as available for use by Ministers are held by their private offices and are available for use by Ministers, special advisers and staff.

Data for the intervening years could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

The number of laptops (i) lost and (ii) stolen is:
Financial yearLostStolen

To calculate the cost of using laptops there are many elements to consider, such as, purchase cost, peripheral devices, maintenance, depreciation, service provision and electricity used. Each of these costs would be different for each different model of laptop used in the Department. The time required collating this information and to calculate this figure, even if it were available, would result in a disproportionate cost.

Luxembourg Plan

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the likely effects on rural development of the implementation of the Luxembourg Plan. [3870]

Jim Knight: There have been two initiatives on rural development under the Luxembourg Presidency.

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the European Council's discussions on 16–17 June did not reach agreement on the future financing of the EU. The financial amounts available for rural development will depend on the outcome of the negotiations on future
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financing of the EU, and on factors such as the ability of member states to transfer resources from traditional direct subsidies to farmers (so-called Pillar 1") to rural development measures. This is a practice which the UK has followed since 2001; and the UK is pressing to ensure that domestic agri-environment programmes can continue to be funded in this way.

The Luxembourg Presidency did, however, secure political agreement to the draft Rural Development Regulation at Agricultural Council on 20 June (subject to any necessary amendment in the light of future financing decisions). The regulation sets out the framework for EU co-financed rural development expenditure from 2007 to 2013. My Department's assessment was set out in Explanatory Memorandum 11495/04.


David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department made of the working practices of mole-catchers before she agreed to the banning of strychnine hydrochloride as a biocidal agent. [6271]

Mr. Morley: Defra recognised the problems that the withdrawal of strychnine could cause for the control of moles. The Central Science Laboratory was commissioned to undertake a review of the range of mole control methods which exist across the EU. The aim of this review was to produce guidance on the most humane and effective methods of mole control which are currently available.

The report A review of methods used within the European Union to control the European Mole, Talpa Europaea" was published by Defra in February 2004. It concluded that the unavailability of strychnine in the future suggests that landowners and occupiers will have to assess more carefully whether moles should be controlled or left alone in order to avoid initiating measures that are unnecessary or unlikely to reduce damage levels in the long term. If control is necessary, alternative methods are available such as trapping and fumigation.

David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what alternative methods for the destruction of moles her Department advises mole-catchers to use once strychnine hydrochloride is withdrawn. [6272]

Mr. Morley: Once strychnine hydrochloride is withdrawn, if control of moles is considered necessary alternatives are available such as trapping or fumigation.

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