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30 Jan 2006 : Column 8W—continued

Pesticides

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action her Department is taking to help stop foreign farm workers from being exposed to dangerous pesticides. [44979]

Mr. Morley: UK pesticide and health and safety legislation provide a high degree of protection to all those, irrespective of their origin, whose work in the UK requires them to handle or use pesticides. Specific guidance is given in the Statutory Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products.

In addition a number of other schemes have been established to protect the health and safety of migrant workers. These include the recently revised Seasonal Workers' Scheme (SAWS) operated by the Home Office and the establishment of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) and its supporting legislation. The GLA will look specifically at health and safety issues as part of their inspection of labour providers and any breaches of Health and Safety legislation will be referred to the relevant body.

National Poultry Register

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government are taking to ensure that poultry owners register their flocks on the national poultry register. [43552]


 
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Mr. Bradshaw: The Government are working closely with a wide range of interested parties to promote the GB poultry register and to make poultry keepers aware of the requirements of the Avian Influenza (Preventive Measures) (No 2) Regulations 2005. Over 40,000 leaflets have been distributed to poultry keepers and advertisements have been placed in a number of poultry and countryside magazines. DEFRA has also distributed posters to veterinary surgeries, MPs, livestock markets and auctioneers, and to Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) staff. In addition, state veterinary service colleagues, in the course of their day to day duties, are reminding poultry keepers of their obligation to register.

As we approach the 28 February deadline, we will consider what further action needs to be taken; for example, proactive visits to premises to remind poultry keepers of their obligations.

Pre-movement Testing

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the veterinary profession on its capacity to undertake large-scale pre-movement testing. [45841]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 26 January 2006: The Department has had a number of discussions with various stakeholders on this issue. The veterinary profession was represented on the independently chaired Pre-Movement Testing Stakeholder Group and the issue of veterinary capacity was given careful consideration. Pre-movement testing will be introduced in two phases as a result of recommendations made by the Group.

Defra officials also met with the British Veterinary Association (BVA) twice during the development of policy on pre-movement testing. The BVA did not express any concern about veterinary capacity to deliver pre-movement testing.

Reusable Products

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether it is her policy to promote reusable products over single-use disposable products. [40971]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Government has no such policy overall, but the reuse of suitable products is strongly encouraged.

The Environment Agency has carried out work to compare the lifecycle impacts of disposable and reusable nappies.

Tail Docking

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the inclusion of a ban on dog tail docking in the Animal Welfare Bill. [44961]

Mr. Bradshaw: The law currently permits the docking of dogs' tails by veterinary surgeons. Although the Government is inclined to support the status quo, we
 
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appreciate there are genuine views held on both sides of the debate and believe that the status of tail docking should be for Parliament to decide.

The views expressed during the Second Reading and in the Standing Committee considering the Animal Welfare Bill were strongly in favour of a complete ban on the docking of dogs' tails, while some members argued for an exemption for working dogs. As a result, we are currently considering how best we can provide all MPs with the opportunity to express a view as the Bill proceeds through the House.

TRACES

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the EU-wide computer system, TRACES, records (a) which species are imported, (b) the country of origin of imported species, (c) whether imported animals and birds are captive-bred or wild-caught and (d) the level of mortality among imported animals and birds. [45985]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 26 January 2006]: TRACES records which species are imported and the country they are imported from. It does not distinguish between captive-bred or wild-caught birds, nor does it show the level of mortality among imported animals and birds.

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether information gathered by the EU-wide computer system, TRACES, is available to the public in the UK. [45986]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 26 January 2006]: The information gathered by TRACES is only directly available to Member States' Competent Authorities and Official Veterinarians. Registered traders have the option of using the system to request export certification.

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she is making to other EU member states about the merits of an improved system to monitor imports of animals and their products into the European Union. [45987]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 26 January 2006]: In 2004 a computerised system to record imports of animals and animal products into the European Union, known as TRACES, was introduced by the European Commission. Officials from DEFRA are closely involved in the continued development of the system. The UK is represented at meetings with the Commission and other member states to discuss issues associated with the effective operation of the system.

Waste Paper

Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her Department's policy is on minimising waste paper within the Department. [46683]

Mr. Bradshaw: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 24 January 2006, Official Report, column 1954W.
 
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Wild Bird Imports

Ms Angela C. Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with the European Commission on its progress in reviewing policy on importing wild birds into the European Union. [45226]

Mr. Bradshaw: All imports of live birds and their products, from countries which have notified Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), have been banned. In addition, the EU has agreed a temporary ban, now extended to 31 May 2006, on the imports of all wild birds from any other countries. Additional restrictions on captive pet birds coming in with their owners have also been imposed.

The Government are considering the conclusions of the Dimmock report (the Independent Review of Avian Quarantine) which said that imports of captive birds should be permitted as a ban might divert imports to illegal, un-quarantined, channels which would pose a greater risk. Discussions are continuing with stakeholders and the European Commission to find a longer-term solution to the problems associated with the importation of wild birds.

SOLICITOR-GENERAL

Prosecutions (Northern Ireland)

David Simpson: To ask the Solicitor-General how many prosecutions in Northern Ireland have been abandoned for national security reasons in each of the last 30 years, broken down by charge. [46463]

The Solicitor-General: National security is only one of a number of factors that may have contributed to a decision to discontinue a prosecution in the public interest. To provide this information would require the individual examination of the file of every case discontinued in the public interest. The information requested is not centrally recorded and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


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