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30 Nov 2005 : Column 501W—continued

Tuberculosis

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list countries from which people applying for a visa to stay in the UK for longer than six months have to provide a certificate proving that they are free from infectious tuberculosis; and what estimate she has made of the incidence of infectious tuberculosis in those countries. [29506]

Caroline Flint [holding answer 17 November 2005]: As part of the Home Office five-year strategy, the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) have started a phased implementation of pre-entry screening in Tanzania, Thailand, Sudan and Bangladesh. United Kingdom entry clearance officers in these countries have begun to advise all applicants applying for UK entry certificates that they need to be screened for infectious pulmonary tuberculosis, and will be required to bring a health certificate issued by IOM with them to the UK in order to get entry clearance. Applicants found to have infectious TB will not be issued with a health certificate until they have completed treatment in line with World Health Organisation guidelines.

Details of the incidence of infectious tuberculosis in the four, and other, countries have been published by the WHO at:

www.who.int/tb/publications/global_report/2005/en/

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the reasons for the rise in the number of cases of tuberculosis in England. [29507]

Caroline Flint [holding answer 17 November 2005]: The chief medical officer's action plan Stopping Tuberculosis in England" (October 2004) recognised that tuberculosis (TB) in England increased by 25 per cent. over the previous 10 years, and is still rising.

There are a number of factors that contribute to the rise in TB. TB is so common in certain parts of the world that people who live there are at a higher risk of catching it. The disease follows patterns of migration, and in England around two-thirds of TB patients are born abroad. Among these people, TB as a disease may not develop until five to 10 years later. Apart from the changing patterns of migration, other factors for increasing rates of TB include increased opportunities for international travel; homelessness in inner cities and increasing alcohol and other substance misuse. Also, HIV infection weakens a person's immunity to TB, although this only accounts for a small proportion, around 3 per cent. of the total.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) implemented a system of continuous enhanced tuberculosis surveillance in England in 1999 in response to the increase in cases of tuberculosis reported through the statutory notification system for infectious diseases, and aimed to better inform understanding of the changing epidemiology of tuberculosis.

Annual tuberculosis surveillance reports are available from the HPA's website at www.hpa.org.uk/infections/topics_az/tb/epidemiology/reports.htm
 
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SOLICITOR-GENERAL

Crime Statistics

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Solicitor-General how many successful prosecutions for (a) violent crime and (b) gun crime there have been in each of the last five years. [22261]

Hazel Blears: I have been asked to reply.

The available information from the Home Office Court Proceedings database is contained in the table. It shows the number of successful prosecutions for violent crime (including all offences of violence against the person, sexual offences and robbery) in England and Wales, 1999 to 2003.

It is not possible to identify the number of offenders found guilty of gun crime as the individual circumstances of the offence are not collected.

Statistics on court proceedings for 2004 will be published in late November.
Offenders(1) found guilty at all courts for violent crime offences,(2) England and Wales, 1999 to 2003

Number
199945,630
200045,104
200146,163
200249,803
200349,694


(1) These data are on the principal offence basis.
(2) Violent crime includes all offences of violence against the person, sexual offences and robbery.


Equitable Life

Dr. Cable: To ask the Solicitor General when the Serious Fraud Office will report back on its examination of Equitable Life, commissioned by his Department in January 2004. [33047]

The Solicitor-General: I am informed that the Serious Fraud Office has taken counsel's opinion but will not complete consideration of the matter until the current civil actions are complete.

Serious Fraud Office

Chris Huhne: To ask the Solicitor General how many people have been proceeded against by the Serious Fraud Office in the 2005–06 financial year; and how many were acquitted by (a) jury and (b) order of the judge. [32465]

The Solicitor-General: During the financial year to date the Serious Fraud Office have secured convictions against nine defendants out of those proceeded against in seven cases whilst two have been acquitted by the verdict of a jury: Two further defendants have had the charges dismissed against them by order of the judge.
 
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ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS

Bees

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to address the increase in the incidence of European foulbrood in bee colonies. [29284]

Jim Knight: Data provided by the National Bee Unit indicate that there has been a slight decline rather than an increase in the incidence of European foul brood disease in England in recent years. This year, 664 colonies were found infected with European foul brood compared to the 1007 cases recorded in 2000.

The effectiveness of measures to control European foul brood is subject to continuous assessment by the National Bee Unit. The unit is currently evaluating the effectiveness of the shook swarm technique for improved control of the disease. If successful, this will eliminate the need for the application of antibiotic by bee health inspectors.

Cattle Passports

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many (a) farmers, (b) cattle owners and (c) cattle keepers have had an application for at least one cattle passport rejected on the grounds of the late return of the form since September 2003; [30585]

(2) how many applications for cattle passports have been made since September 2003; how many of those applications were rejected; and how many were refused on the grounds of the late return of the form in each month; [30586]

(3) in how many cases where applications for cattle passports were refused on the grounds of late return of the form since September 2003 (a) a passport was subsequently issued after an appeal, (b) the animal concerned was slaughtered and (c) the animal concerned died; and if she will make a statement. [30587]

Jim Knight: The Cattle Tracing System database (CTS) does not distinguish between farmers, cattle owners and cattle keepers. It contains details of cattle holdings. Each holding is associated with the name of a cattle keeper but the database does not indicate whether the keeper is also the owner of the cattle. A keeper may have more than one holding.

A passport is withheld when the application is received late. This rule has been strictly enforced since 21 November 2003. Before that date a less rigorous approach was taken. In the period from 28 September 1998 to 20 November 2003, a total of 13,448 passport applications were rejected because they were not received within the legal time limits and the identity and traceability of the animal could not be established.

Between 21 November 2003 and 31 October 2005, 14,995 holdings have had at least one cattle passport refused on the grounds of late application. In this period 5,551,571 passport applications were recorded onto the CTS of which 44,734 applications were refused on the grounds of late return of the form. Monthly figures are shown in the following table.
 
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Passport applicationsRefused passports
21–30 November 200344,982745
December 2003169,9443,122
January 2004175,3114,139
February 2004177,5622,425
March 2004314,5762,527
April 2004383,5123,336
May 2004319,0452,648
June 2004306,6533,519
July 2004222,9891,867
August 2004236,3342,000
September 2004229,6191 ,837
October 2004197,7081,385
November 2004196,1041,255
December 2004151,0081,061
January 2005161,6531,363
February 2005164,4821,264
March 2005281,4721 ,209
April 2005360,4091,199
May 2005340,1461,643
June 2005258,3301,688
July 2005214,4381,198
August 2005227,4531,236
September 2005222,6091,150
October 2005195,232918

During the period 10,504 passports were issued following a successful appeal, after initially being refused because of late application.

Of the animals which have been refused passports during the period 21 November 2003 to 31 October 2005, 11,202 have since been recorded as dead on the Cattle Tracing System database. This figure excludes import applications as the deadline dates are different for these application types.

It is not possible to distinguish between those which have been slaughtered and those which have died of natural causes. The database only records the date and place of death, not the cause of death.

The Department is currently reviewing all the domestic legislation implementing the ED cattle identification requirements, and I have asked officials to ensure that the rules on late passport applications are included. There will be a full public consultation on this review shortly. However, I must emphasise that if any changes to procedures are considered in this context, we will continue to give priority to the maintenance of an accurate and reliable database.


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