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20 Dec 2005 : Column 2672W—continued


Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many venomous spiders that do not naturally live in the United Kingdom have been found in the United Kingdom in each of the last five years, broken down by type. [37951]

Jim Knight: All spiders have the ability to produce venom with which they immobilise their prey, but not all spiders are considered to be venomous in the sense that they may pose a threat to human health.

No one agency collates all the recorded finds of non-native spiders found in the UK. Specimens are sent to a variety of organisations including local environmental health officers, pest control companies, local and national museums and universities for examination and identification. It is therefore impossible to put an absolute figure on the number of non-native spiders recorded in the UK on an annual basis.

The Central Science Laboratory, an executive agency of DEFRA, provides an invertebrate identification service primarily for plant health quarantine purposes and does receive a limited number of spider specimens each year. During the last five-year period this service saw an average of 26 spiders per annum, almost all collected off plant material with some import connection. Approximately 90 per cent. of these were non-native species. Of these, only one species, the Melbourne trap-door spider (Stanwellia grisea), is considered to be venomous to man. One confirmed, and two unconfirmed, specimens of this species were intercepted on tree ferns imported from Australia in 2004. This spider has very large fangs and can inflict a painful, but not dangerous bite. Since this find, tree ferns have been subject to greater control prior to export from Australia and New Zealand and so live invertebrates such as this are less likely to be encountered on this commodity.

Another traditional means of spiders entering the country in an uncontrolled way has been via bananas, although this is now very rare since not only are banana crops increasingly sprayed with pesticides during growth, but refrigeration kills any travellers who escape that. Similarly, arrival on uncut timber is much reduced, since the amount of 'raw' timber imported has fallen, replaced by processed timber.

Taxi Travel

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been spent by her Department on taxi travel in the 2005–06 financial year; and what proportion of such travel was undertaken in each nation and region of the United Kingdom, including London. [37470]

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Jim Knight: The Department does not hold centrally information on the cost of travel by taxi, this could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Unlawful Activities

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what activities have been made unlawful by legislation introduced by her Department since 1 May 2001; and if she will make a statement. [35980]

Jim Knight: The following Acts created criminal offences in the 2002–03 session of Parliament

Animal Health Act 2002 (c.42)

Created several criminal offences including the offence of deliberately infecting an animal with any one of 15 diseases specified in the Act, including foot-and-mouth disease. The schedule created an offence of failing to comply with a restriction notice preventing the use for breeding of sheep that are of a genotype that is susceptible to transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) and also offences of obstructing an inspector carrying out duties under the Act.

The Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003 (c.33)

Provided powers to make offences by regulation for failures to comply with the scheme to be created.

The Water Act 2003 (c.37)

Made it an offence under Part 1 to fail to comply with a notice served by the Environment Agency requiring work to be carried out on facilities for impounding water or a licence application to be made for unlicensed impounding works.

Where abstraction or impounding takes place without a licence or does not comply with the terms of a licence, the Act made it an offence to fail to comply with an enforcement notice issued by the Environment Agency.

Part 2 created the offence of introducing water to or supplying water from a water undertaker's supply system without being a water undertaker or a licensed supply person. Under Part 3 it is an offence for an owner of manager of a large raised reservoir to fail to prepare a flood plan when required to do so. Part 3 also extended the offence of supplying water unfit for human consumption to apply to persons including employees of the water undertaker and self-employed people involved with the supply of water.

During the 2003–04 session the following Acts created criminal offences:

The Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 (c.11)

Makes it an offence for any person to act as an unlicensed gangmaster and for any other person to enter into arrangements with an unlicensed gangmaster.

The Act also created other offences in relation to forgery of documents.

The Highways (Obstruction by Body Corporate) Act 2004 (c.29)

Extended the offence of obstructing a highway under the Highways Act 1980 so that the directors, managers and other company officers of a guilty
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company may also be found guilty of the obstruction if it was committed with their consent, connivance or attributable to their neglect.

The Hunting Act 2004 (c.37)

Made it an offence under Part 1 to hunt a wild mammal with a dog, except in some circumstances such as where the dog is being used for stalking and flushing-out only, or to participate in, attend or knowingly facilitate a hare-coursing event.

Part 1 also makes it an offence for the owner of a dog to permit it to be used for hunting or hare-coursing or for the owner of land to allow the land to be entered or used for hunting or hare-coursing.

During the 2004–2005 session the following Act created criminal offences:

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (c.16)

Created offences in relation to nuisance parking" which is the selling or repairing of vehicles on a road by persons in business. Part 6 of the Act created offences in relation to breach of dog control orders", which in relation to specified land may exclude dogs from the land, or prohibit the fouling of the land, or require dogs to be kept on leads when on the land or may limit the number of dogs a person may take onto the specified land. In relation to certain premises in an Alarm Notification Area" Part 7 of the Act created offences of failing to nominate a key-holder where an audible intruder alarm is present.

The Act also made many existing offences punishable by a fixed penalty notice.

Upland Farmers

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will ensure that Entry Level Stewardship takes into account the special character of the English uplands in relation to payment options. [38156]

Jim Knight [holding answer 19 December 2005]: The creation of Environmental Stewardship (of which Entry Level Stewardship is a part), involved extensive consultations with stakeholders and other interested groups. Entry Level Stewardship, as the 'whole farm' scheme open to all farmers and land managers, has been designed to cover the vast majority of landscapes and farming systems in England, including those found in upland areas.

The uplands have a specific range of options, such as those relating to moorland and rough grazing which take into account farming systems in those areas. Entry Level Stewardship has a national payment rate of £30per hectare, per year, however land parcels of 15hectares or more in the Less Favoured Area, are eligible for payments of £8 per hectare, per year. This lower payment rate reflects the reduced management input required for these options.

Water Consumption

Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her
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estimate is of the number of litres of (a) sparkling and (b) still water consumed in the United Kingdom in (i)2001 and (ii) 2002. [37638]

Jim Knight: It is estimated that 747 million litres of mineral water were consumed by household members in the UK in the period from April 2001 to March 2002 and 793 million litres in the period from April 2002 to March 2003. These estimates are based upon records of consumer purchases from the Expenditure and Food Survey which doesn't distinguish between still and sparkling mineral water. Figures published by Mintel in its bottled water report of June 2005 indicate that 20 per cent. of bottled water in 2001 was sparkling.

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