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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will list the environmental law infringements by the UK of which she ahs been notified since 1 January by the European Commission; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: A list of all infringements, including environmental, initiated by the European Commission against the UK, since 1 January 2005, can be found at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgb/ droit_com on the European Commission website.
Mr. Austin Mitchell:
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which five management consultancies received the highest value of
21 Jul 2005 : Column 1964W
contracts awarded by her Department in each of the last three years; and what the total value was of the contracts awarded to each. 
|P A Consulting Group||5,281,766.67|
|Logica UK Ltd.||3,781,131.46|
|Cornwell Management Consultants plc||915,374.51|
|P A Consulting Group||6,899,587.19|
|Deloitte M C S Ltd.||2,679,518.23|
|Cornwell Management Consultants plc||2,057,281.94|
|I B M United Kingdom Ltd.||1,505,892.18|
|P A Consulting Group||5,251,231.95|
|Deloitte M C S Ltd.||1,607,051.16|
|Q I Consulting||981,331.39|
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her Department's total spending on management consultants has been in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the total expenditure saved in each of the last three years as a result of implementing recommendations by management consultancies within her Department. 
Jim Knight: The provision of an aggregated response across all business areas in Defra, covering all management consultancy engagements, would be a major administrative exercise which would give rise to disproportionate cost.
Defra engages management consultants across its entire business, with the sole purpose of providing the Department with more effective delivery of the policy aims set by Ministers. The employment of private sector support is not, of itself, intended to provide savings on departmental expenditure, but rather enables progress to be made at a rate commensurate with meeting our strategic goals.
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Consultancy recommendations implemented by the Department ensure that Defra has sufficient capability and capacity to deliver its outcomes. The rationale for reliance on consultancy support is largely based on the need to bring sufficient resources with the appropriate skills to bear on critical programmes. The longer-term question of providing a more skilled and professionalised work force, which may in turn lessen reliance on external support, is of course being addressed as part of wider civil service reform.
Defra's major programmes have benefited from the experience and expertise of management consultants, and the true benefits cannot be measured by a simple assessment of the direct costs incurred, but must include an analysis of the financial savings over the life of the programme, and the wider impact on Defra's customers and society in general.
Defra is committed to maximising the value of its expenditure on management consultants, and has begun a programme to review how all professional services, including consultancy, are managed, and how to work more effectively across Whitehall to deliver savings on the services procured. Defra's new strategic partnership with IBM also offers the potential to rationalise consultancy support, and reduce expenditure on ad hoc call-off contracts.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the acidity levels of the world's oceans, with particular reference to the capacity to sustain ecosystems. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Royal Society published last month a report on ocean acidification as a result of increased concentrations of carbon dioxide. This drew attention to the increased acidity which has already been observed, and predicted that further increases would have serious implications for marine ecosystems.
The Department, jointly with DTI, has already funded some research at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) on the impact of increased levels of carbon dioxide and the consequent acidification on the oceans and marine ecosystems.
Earlier this year Defra, DTI the Norwegian Institute for Water Research and English Nature agreed to oversee a further programme of research with PML to investigate the potential impact of increased seawater acidity on shallow sea ecosystems, biodiversity and the health of key organisms, including their capacity to adapt. This will enable us to better understand and predict the consequences of the Increasing acidity of seawater.
The OSPAR Commission for the protection of the marine environment of the North East Atlantic has begun work on an assessment of the implications of increased carbon dioxide levels. The United Kingdom will be contributing to this work, drawing on the results of the Royal Society study and of the work at PML.
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Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many birds have been affected by the outbreak of Newcastle Disease in Surrey; what assessment she has made of whether the disease was present in the birds when they were imported; what steps are being taken to trace other consignments of birds from the same origin; and what information she has received from the French authorities on (a) the origins of the disease and (b) the reasons it was not detected on the originating premises. 
The State Veterinary Service is tracing and finding details locally of all imports of pheasants in the last two months and movements related to the infected premises, The information will help give an indication of any likely disease spread. UK officials have contacted the French authorities regarding the outbreak and possible link to France, who have immediately began a thorough investigation. There has been a rapid exchange of information concerning the movement of birds between France and the infected premise in England.
The French authorities identified a number of farms that had supplied birds to the infected farm and have undertaken active surveillance and sampling, which has now allowed them to conclude by blood sampling that birds on one farm have been exposed to the Newcastle Disease virus in the Loire Atlantique region of France, which has approximately 20,000 pheasants and 35,000 partridges. Although the source of infection for this farm has yet to be identified and virus isolation results are not yet available, the French authorities have taken decisive action to control the disease.
We are working closely with the French authorities who are keeping us fully informed and who are carrying epidemiological investigations on the suspect farm to determine the source and any spread of the disease.
Mr. Bradshaw: The Government's strategy is to stamp out and eradicate the disease outbreak quickly; to encourage keepers to use greater biosecurity and adopt vaccination; to reduce the impact on trade and the rural economy; and recover the UK status as free from Newcastle Disease as soon as possible.
Defra acted immediately following suspicion of disease, control measures asset out in the Defra Exotic Animal Disease Generic Contingency Plan have formed the basis of the Government's response. Local and national disease control centres have been set up.
Full control measures, as required by EU law, have been taken. Restrictions have been imposed upon the farm where the disease has been confirmed, which includes movement restrictions and biosecurity measures. In addition, a declaratory order has been made declaring an infected area and establishing a surveillance zone of 10 km around the infected premises to impose restrictions to prevent the spread of disease.
The State Veterinary Service is tracing and finding details locally of all imports of pheasants in the last two months and movements related to the infected premises. The information will help give an indication of any likely disease spread.
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