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Animal Welfare

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will implement the recommendation contained in paragraph 200 in the Farm Animal Welfare Council's report Welfare of farmed animals at slaughter or killing", published in 2003. [47603]

Mr. Bradshaw: No.

Beef

Mr. David Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact on the cattle market of a delay in lifting the ban on the export of British beef. [44042]

Mr. Bradshaw: I can confirm that, in 2005, Defra commissioned a report from the Meat and Livestock Commission assessing any risks and the market impact of the lifting of the over-30-month rule.

My officials and I are also closely monitoring the UK market situation as well as the overall EU beef market, since the full re-introduction of post-August 1996 cattle to the food chain on 23 January. In the unlikely event of any substantial and sustained fall in the market price we have the option of pressing the EU Commission's Beef Management Committee for a temporary exceptional market support measure.

Current indications are that the full re-introduction of over-30-month beef from cattle born after 1 August 1996 has passed largely without incident. The impact on market prices will become clearer once they have been collected and published after the first full week of trading.

Bird Keepers

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information her Department holds on the (a) number of bird keepers in the UK and (b) percentage of birds of wild origin they keep. [46298]

Jim Knight: The Department holds information on the number and locations of larger poultry businesses. In addition the Great Britain Poultry Register was established in December 2005 to gather more information about particular species of birds held on commercial premises with 50 or more birds. Owners with less than 50 birds are also encouraged to register on a voluntary basis.

However, we do not hold information on other bird keepers or the number and percentage of wild birds kept in the UK.
 
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Bovine TB

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons her Department has refused Mrs. Kremers of New Park Farm, Ogwell, Devon the option of paying for a second TB test for an animal that tested positive to the initial tuberculin skin test; and by what means Mrs. Kremers can appeal against this decision. [47587]

Mr. Bradshaw: The current skin test for bovine tuberculosis (TB) is an effective test. It is the accepted standard laid down in both national and international legislation for determining the existence of disease in a cattle herd.

The Tuberculosis (England and Wales) Order 1984 requires cattle failing the tuberculin test, and those considered to have been direct contacts exposed to TB, to be compulsorily slaughtered. There is no provision for a second TB test nor is there a mechanism for appeals.

CAP Entitlements (Trading)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether trading of common agricultural policy entitlements is allowable in advance of payments being made by the Rural Payments Agency. [46042]

Jim Knight: Trading can only take place once entitlements have been established. The Rural Payments Agency has launched a pre-registration system for those claimants who intend to trade entitlements once they have received their entitlement notification.

Countryside Stewardship Scheme

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the total level of funding for the countryside stewardship scheme was in the 2004 agreement year; [46968]

(2) how many live agreements providing public access there were in (a) the 2004 agreement year and (b) from the scheme's inception to November 2005; [46969]

(3) how many hectares were in live agreements under the countryside stewardship scheme which provided public access (a) in the agreement year 2004 and (b) from the scheme's inception to November 2005; [46972]

(4) how much funding was provided for live agreements providing public access under the countryside stewardship scheme (a) in the agreement year 2004 and (b) from the scheme's inception to November 2005. [46974]

Jim Knight: I cannot provide the information requested within a reasonable time. I will write to the right hon. Member to provide a detailed answer to his questions when we have the information and will place a copy in the Library of the House and on the DEFRA website.

Departmental Website

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost of maintaining her main departmental website was for the
 
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last year for which figures are available; and how many visitors there were to the site in each of the last 12 months. [46276]

Jim Knight: For our main website, www.defra.gov.uk direct operating costs—staff costs for the central team with lead responsibility for updating and maintaining websites—are estimated to be around £352,000 for the current financial year. Additional costs arise from the activities of staff in business units across the Department, contributing to the content of websites but the cost for this cannot be readily calculated . Website hosting services—as well as a range of IT applications—are provided as part of DEFRA's overall IT service provision and the costs cannot be disaggregated.

The number of visitors per month to the website during 2005 was as follows:
Number
January230,000
February230,000
March270,000
April270,000
May260,000
June240,000
July230,000
August250,000
September260,000
October320,000
November320,000
December270,000

Emissions Trading

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the progress of the national allocation plan for the second phase of the EU emissions trading scheme. [48016]

Mr. Morley: A national allocation plan (NAP) with a final installation level-allocation for Phase II of the EU ETS (2008 to 2012) must be submitted to the European Commission by 31 December 2006. The European Commission recently published its revised guidance for Phase II of the EU ETS, and we are now assessing the impacts of this guidance on the development of our NAP. A draft policy NAP is due to be published this spring.

External Consultants

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much her Department has paid since 2004 to external consultants who had previously been employed by the Department in any capacity within the previous five years. [41205]

Jim Knight: External consultants are not employed by the Department but provide consultancy services under contracts for services. The Department does not hold records centrally of how much it has paid since 2004 to external consultants who had previously been employed by the Department in any capacity within the previous five years, and the information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
 
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Fuel Poverty

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what role her Department is playing in the Government's commitment to eradicate fuel poverty. [47108]

Mr. Morley: Defra plays a leading role in taking forward the Government's commitment to tackle fuel poverty. This is reflected in our PSA target, wording of which is shared with DTI, which endorses the commitment to eradicate fuel poverty, as far as reasonably practicable, in vulnerable households in England by 2010.

Defra is responsible for the Warm Front Scheme, which is the key tool for tackling fuel poverty in the private sector in England. Since its launch in June 2000 it has assisted more than 1 million households with a range of insulation and heating measures and energy efficiency advice. The new phase of the scheme, launched in June 2005, is better equipped to target and assist those most in need in a sustainable way.

Funding for Warm Front was enhanced by the announcement in the pre-Budget report 2005 of an additional £250 million for Warm Front in the period 2005–08.

The Department works closely with colleagues across Government who have an interest in this area including the Departments of Trade and Industry, Work and Pensions and Health, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasury as well as the Devolved Administrations. This ensures that all areas which impact on our ability to tackle fuel poverty—energy efficiency, income and fuel cost—can be fully considered and appropriate action taken.


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