Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to assist poultry farmers to combat any suspected outbreak of avian influenza; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Anyone who keeps poultry has an obligation to report signs of illness in their birds, and must know what to do about an avian influenza notifiable disease: this includes operating adequate biosecurity, and consulting their vet.
My department has distributed guidance material to our partners in the industry who are helping to distribute this material to their members, who cover the great majority of birds. We have also produced a simple one-page leaflet on biosecurity and surveillance for smaller concerns and back-yard keepers. This was posted on our website and sent out to organisations representing the industry to send on to their members.
In addition we have placed adverts in trade and specialist press targeting the same audience to get biosecurity and surveillance messages across. All these pieces of guidance are available on the Defra website.
|Defra expenditure with the National Bee Unit|
Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department (a) has taken and (b) is planning to take to safeguard bee health against the threat of the varroa mite. 
Jim Knight: DEFRA (and MAFF before it) has been helping the beekeeping sector to better equip itself to manage varroa infestations ever since the pest was first discovered in England in 1992. The Department has funded a range of measures delivered by the National Bee Unit, including the provision of a free diagnostic and inspection service to beekeepers and a comprehensive training and advisory programme, as well as R&D.
Although varroa continues to pose challenges to contemporary beekeeping particularly with the development of mite resistance to chemical treatments, it is now endemic in the UK and has been for several years. The Department has issued a consultation document on plans to remove the mite from the list of notifiable diseases in March 2006. However, the National Bee Unit will continue to offer advice to beekeepers about its management and control, as it does now for other serious but non-statutory diseases.
Margaret Beckett: Information on the removal of tree tops and branch wood for use as fuel following conventional timber harvesting operations is not routinely collected. However, the Forestry Commission estimates that less than 2,000 tonnes of this material, from a possible 500,000 tonnes, was removed from woodland and used as fuel in England last year.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 23 November 2005, Official Report, column 2032W, on damages, what the basis was of the (a) personal injury claims and (b) unfair dismissal claim; and if she will make a statement. 
(b) The unfair dismissal and discrimination claim concerned an employee who had failed their probation and lodged a case with the employment tribunal for
6 Dec 2005 : Column 1087W
unfair dismissal and race discrimination. The case was settled via ACAS outside of the employment tribunal without any admission of liability.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research projects commissioned by her Department are being undertaken; and what the publication arrangements are in each case. 
Jim Knight: The Department spends around £160 million each year on research projects covering a wide range of science in support of policy formulation and development. At any one time we have around 1,500 'live' research projects. We publish a large amount of information on completed and ongoing research projects on the department's internet site at:
This information is available free to all. Our searchable system provides a range of information on projects, including title, cost, contractor, duration, description and, once completed, the final report.
6 Dec 2005 : Column 1088W
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with her counterparts in the European Union on the duration of decision 2005/745/EC. 
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what improvements have been made to flood defences in each borough along the River Thames in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: I understand from the Environment Agency that they have undertaken the improvements detailed in the following table. Expenditure on the River Thames is expected to increase significantly during the next five years as many tidal walls and embankments reach the end of their design life and the recommendations from improvement strategies are implemented.
|Greenwich||Thames Barrier and Associated Gates(1)||5,000||5,000||5,000||5,000||5,000|
|Various||Tidal Side Channels and Tributaries(2)||0||2,588||0||1,621||309|
|Tower Hamlets||Tower of London(5)||671|||||||||
|Tower Hamlets||Isle of Dogs: Blackwall Stairs(5)||||125|||||||
|Tower Hamlets||Isle of Dogs: Lockes Wharf(5)||160|||||||||
|Newham||Royal Docks: Orchard Wharf(5)||||||325|||||
|Chiswick||Strand on The Green Frontage(5)||||||||||700|
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