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12 Sept 2005 : Column 2309W—continued


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by what date she expects all the IACS-22 forms for the Environmental Stewardship scheme to be processed. [13870]

Jim Knight: The Rural Payments Agency currently has a list of priority IACS 22 cases for the Environmental Stewardship scheme. There are currently some 4,000 on the list and these are estimated to be completed by the end of August.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what regulations protect the welfare of intensively farmed chickens; and if she will make a statement. [14307]

Mr. Bradshaw: The welfare of chickens is protected by the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968, which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary pain or unnecessary distress. More detailed standards are laid down in the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 1870). These regulations include specific requirements on inspections, record keeping, freedom of movement, buildings and equipment and feed and water.

There is also a specific Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Meat Chickens and Breeding Chickens. Flock-keepers are required by law to have access to, and be familiar with this code, which encourages all those who care for chickens to adopt the highest standards of husbandry.

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the effects on cashflow in farms of the time scale for establishing the Entry Level Stewardship scheme. [12107]

Jim Knight [holding answer 14 July 2005]: Environmental Stewardship was launched on 3 March.

It has been an important priority to ensure that farmers could continue to plan their activities over the whole farming year. It is for this reason we remain fully committed to the 1 August start date for Entry Level Stewardship agreements. In the light of current IT and
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land registration delays, the contingency arrangements we have put in place—extension of the closing date for applications and prioritisation of registration requests submitted to the Rural Payments Agency—should help ensure that as many farmers as possible can benefit from the 1 August start date. In addition, moving to monthly start dates after 1 August should ensure that any delays in processing applications thereafter should be kept to a minimum. ELS has been designed so that those entering into agreements will be paid every six months, rather than at the end of every year, thereby improving their cash flow.


Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her assessment is of the effectiveness of the 12-mile pelagic pair trawl prohibition for bass and its impact on cetacean by-catch. [12377]

Mr. Bradshaw: A full report on research conducted by the Sea Mammal Research Unit on behalf of Defra in the 2004–05 UK pair trawl fishery will be published on the Defra website in the autumn. A preliminary analysis suggests that there was a total mortality of 142 common dolphins in the 2004–05 season (compared to 429 in 2003–04 and 114 in 2002–03). The fuller report will include an assessment of factors contributing to the reduction in by-catch this season.

The number of dolphins (includes common, white beaked, white sided and striped), stranded on south-west beaches in 2005 was 68, a decrease from the numbers recorded in 2003 (299) and 2004 (178).

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) which Ministers from the UK attended each EU Fisheries Council meeting from the UK since 1997; [14830]

(2) on what occasions the Scottish Executive Fisheries Minister has requested to lead the UK delegation to a Fisheries Council meeting since 1999. [14831]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Secretary of State and the Fisheries Minister have attended most joint Agriculture and Fisheries Councils and the Fisheries Minister has attended Fisheries Councils. On a few occasions other Defra Ministers have represented the UK at such meetings. Defra Ministers have been supported at various Councils by Ministers from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The Concordat between the Government and the devolved Administrations on co-ordination of European Union policy issues makes it clear that the UK Minister retains overall responsibility for the negotiations and determines how each member of the team can contribute to securing the agreed policy position. The Concordat emphasises the importance in negotiations of working as a UK team.

The UK negotiating position in the discussions is agreed beforehand after full consultation between the Department and the devolved Administrations, which all play a thorough and constructive part in the process of developing the UK's negotiating position for Fisheries Councils.
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Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what studies she has assessed on the effects of warming waters in the central North sea on the movement of cod stocks into the northern North sea. [14907]

Mr. Bradshaw: One of Defra's main areas of fisheries research is linking the abundance of young fish to changes in both parent stock size and environmental conditions. Other work studies the behaviour and movements of individual cod. This research is underpinned by an extensive monitoring system. These studies have allowed us to map changes in centres of concentration of North sea fish populations. The Defra studies are co-ordinated with others in Scotland, and international programmes such as the ICES-GLOBEC cod and climate change programme.

There is evidence of some relatively greater abundance of cod in the north-eastern North sea compared with more southern areas. However this does not mean that cod have moved from the south to the north.

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of environmental factors on levels of cod stocks in the North sea. [14908]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Department's scientists have contributed to the assessments undertaken by ICES Advisory Committee on Fishery Management (ACFM). ACFM advised last year that changes in the North sea environment may have played a role in the reduced productivity of cod, but so too does the depleted state of the parent stock. ACFM advised that if, in addition to the impact of fishing, climate change or other environmental changes have played a role in the reduced productivity of fish stocks, it becomes even more essential that exploitation rates on these stocks be reduced, to sustain the stocks under conditions of lower productivity.

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many contractors have been paid (a) more than £5 million, (b) £1 to £499,999, (c) £500,000 to £999,999, (d) £250,000 to £499,999, (e) £100,000 to £249,999, £50,000 to £99,999, (g) £25,000 to £49,999, (h) £10,000 to £24,999, (i) £5,000 to £9,999 and (j) less than £4,999 for foot and mouth clean-up work. [13613]

Mr. Bradshaw: The information requested is not held centrally in the format required. The information could be collated only at a disproportionate cost.

Illegal Timber

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she supports the European Parliament resolution of 14 July in respect of action on illegal timber imports into the EU. [14230]

Mr. Morley: The European Parliament adopted a resolution on 6 July on implementation of the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) action plan to tackle illegal logging.
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The Government broadly supports the issues raised by the European Parliament, which fit closely with our aims for this dossier during the UK's presidency of the European Union.

We agree that more rapid progress should be made on this dossier, particularly on ensuring that the Commission and member states deliver the review of additional legislative options. We also support the call for the formal negotiation of partnership agreements with timber producing countries to start, that negotiations should take civil society's view points into account and that the implementation of the resulting Partnership agreements is well funded. We have noted the European Parliament's view on the legal base for the draft regulation. However, a change to the current legal base would require the support of the Commission or unanimous agreement to change the legal base by member states, neither of which is forthcoming.

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