Mr. Hain: The Transport (Wales) Bill will give the Assembly a specific power to provide financial assistance in respect of air services and airport facilities, where these would not otherwise be provided. The Bill received its Second Reading in another place on 1 November.
The Assembly Government are keen to exploit the potential of air transport within Wales. Following an extensive consultation exercise, it proposes to take forward a service from Swansea and Cardiff to Valley on Anglesey. This service would operate two flights a day in each direction. It would provide significant time savings for passengers and improve business links. The Assembly Government will be working with their partners to launch this service in 2006, subject to obtaining the necessary approvals and consents.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many IT projects have been developed for his Department since 2001; and whether he has agreed to make public Gateway Reviews for these projects (a) in full and (b) in part. 
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many abandoned cars (a) were recorded in each local authority in England in 200405 and (b) are predicted for 200506. 
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will compensate poultry keepers who report a possible infection with avian influenza who are then affected by further cases during the time taken by the Department to carry out the necessary tests. 
Mr. Bradshaw: In the event of an avian influenza outbreak, compensation would be payable under Schedule 3 of the Animal Health Act 1981 against the number of healthy birds destroyed at time of slaughter.
Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what financial resources have been made available by her Department to publicise the procedures that should be followed by local authorities who suspect the presence of Avian influenza; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Existing legislation requires that any person including a local authority who suspects the presence of Avian influenza in poultry must report it to the local office of the State Veterinary Service.
No additional funding has been made available to local authorities for this purpose. However, consideration is being given to the way work following an outbreak that local authorities may undertake should be funded.
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Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what contingency planning has been undertaken in West Lancashire to protect against an outbreak of avian influenza, with particular reference to Martin Mere; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Government have significantly enhanced the arrangements for surveillance of wild birds, including the investigation of die-offs and sampling at shoots and wetlands. These arrangements have been agreed as part of coordinated efforts across the European Union.
Martin Mere is a wildfowl and wetlands trust that is fully aware of avian influenza and what to look for. They would notify their local Animal Health Office should they suspect avian influenza or other notifiable disease.
Defra has recently reviewed and updated its contingency plans and, following a period of public consultation, the Exotic Animal Disease Generic Contingency Plan, which includes a section dealing specifically with an outbreak of avian influenza. The plan is regularly tested and was laid before Parliament on 21 July 2005. It is also available on the Defra website. In the event of an outbreak in GB the plan would be invoked immediately.
Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans the Government have (a) to prevent the release of game birds and (b) to ban driven shooting in the event of an outbreak of avian influenza. 
Mr. Bradshaw: There are no plans to treat game bird activity any differently from the remainder of the poultry industry. Restrictions on the movement of poultry in the event of an outbreak are contained within the Diseases of Poultry Order 2003. Game birds fall within the definition of poultry within this Order if they are reared or kept in captivity.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what is the current average period between a bird's death in quarantine and a veterinary investigation taking place into the cause of the bird's death. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Guidelines to the state veterinary service allow a local veterinary inspector (LVI) to hold dead birds in a fridge or freezer for up to 10 days, if they do not suspect the presence of a notifiable disease, prior to sending them for testing.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in how many bird deaths in quarantine which were investigated was a specific cause of death identified in 200405. 
Mr. Bradshaw: All birds dying in quarantine must be tested for the presence of the avian influenza and Newcastle disease viruses. No other tests are routinely performed. An importer, however, may carry out other tests privately.
Since November 2001 there have been four cases of highly pathogenic Newcastle disease and three cases of low pathogenic Newcastle disease (PMV1) in quarantine. There has been one case of avian influenza (H5N1), identified on the 21 October 2005.
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Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what guidance she has issued to workers in (a) the commercial care of birds sector and (b) bird quarantine centres on whether they should attend events where there are large collections of birds; 
Mr. Bradshaw: DEFRA has distributed guidance materials on avian influenza to a range of industry groups-including the British Poultry Council, the British Egg Industry Council and the National Farmers Union-who are helping to distribute this material to their members, who cover the majority of birds. A simple one-page leaflet on biosecurity and surveillance for smaller concerns and backyard keepers has also been produced and has been distributed widely including to all veterinary practices and placed in trade and specialist press targeting the same audience .
DEFRA take very seriously and liaises closely with Department of Health, Health Protection Agency and the Health and Safety executive, who lead in this area. Guidance on worker protection has been issued by an industry and cross departmental working group and is available on the avian influenza pages of the DEFRA website.
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many licensed quarantine sites for birds there are in (a) the Hemel Hempstead constituency and (b) Hertfordshire. 
Mr. Bradshaw: All imported poultry must be accompanied by a health certificate, as laid down in EU legislation. The health certificate contains an official statement confirming that the birds are healthy and the premises and area of origin are free from avian influenza. Poultry is not required to be tested prior to export to the UK.
Where samples are taken from poultry for the purposes of ascertaining if those poultry are infected with the avian influenza virus, the tests carried out in the official laboratory are not charged directly to the owner of the poultry. Similarly, for any poultry that dies within 14 days of arrival the cost of testing for avian influenza would be borne by the Government.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether her Department has identified strains of avian influenza closely
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related to H5N1 already in England; and what assessment she has made of the epidemiological implications of co-infection with H5N1 in a single host. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The last H5 avian influenza virus to be isolated in England was the H5N1 virus responsible for the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in turkeys in Norfolk in 199192. This virus is genetically distinguishable from the H5N1 viruses currently causing the problems in East Asia and the virus isolated recently in quarantine birds in Essex.
The genetic material (RNA) of influenza viruses is segmented into eight distinct genes, which code for 10 proteins. Because this viral RNA is segmented, genetic reassortment can occur in mixed infections with different strains of influenza A viruses. This means that when two viruses infect the same cell, progeny viruses may inherit sets of eight RNA segments made up of combinations of segments from either of the parent viruses. The epidemiological significance of this for humans is that in theory if, for example, an H5N1 virus and a human influenza virus infect the same animal and same cell a reassortant virus could emerge that possessed the virus genes that enabled it to be transmissible in humans, but with the H5 haemagglutinin gene, which would mean that humans had no immunity to this virus. This mechanism is thought to have been the way the H2N2 and the H3N2 pandemic viruses emerged in 1957 and 1968 respectively.
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