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28 Feb 2006 : Column 631W—continued


Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, whether her Department's (a) officials and (b) Ministers held discussions directly with the West Sussex (i) education director and (ii) cabinet members about the employment of an unsuitable teacher. [45934]

Ruth Kelly: Officials will often discuss cases with local authorities. This may sometimes include direct discussions with education directors. There have been recent direct discussions between the Department and West Sussex Director of Children's Services. There have been no discussions with cabinet members.

University Degrees

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which 10 universities incurred the (a) greatest and (b) least cost to the state per graduating student in the latest period for which figures are available. [39919]

Bill Rammell: Figures showing funding on higher education per full-time equivalent student were published in the Departmental for Education and Skills Departmental Report 2005 in June 2005, but comparable figures for individual higher education institutions are not calculated by the Department. The derivation of robust and meaningful figures for each institution would involve complex analysis of the data sources, which could be completed only at disproportionate cost.


Bovine TB

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cases of bovine tuberculosis in UK cattle in the last 10 years were attributed to infection from cattle originating from Ireland; and if she will make a statement. [53018]

Margaret Beckett: This information is not held centrally. However, cattle imported from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are tuberculin tested 60 days after import.
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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many staff were employed in her Department's tuberculosis field teams in each of the last three years; and how many she expects to be so employed by the end of 2006; [53014]

(2) what role she plans for her Department's tuberculosis field teams in any future badger cull arising from the current consultation; and if she will make a statement. [53015]

Margaret Beckett: The following table shows the number of staff employed by Defra's Wildlife Unit on 1 January of each year.
Field operationsAdministration

Staff are working to conclude the final surveying element of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT), which has been running for the last seven years.

Decisions about the future of the unit will be taken after the current consultation on a badger culling policy has ended. The cost benefit analysis which supports our consultation shows that state operated culling could lead to higher costs and slower delivery compared with other options. So our intention is to redeploy or release workers who have carried out cage trapping at the end of the RBCT. Remaining staff, who could be used to support any future culling policy, will be retained.

Dog Fouling

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many fixed penalty notices for dog fouling have been given by each local authority in each year since their introduction, listed in descending order. [45655]

Mr. Bradshaw: Data are available for the number of fixed penalty notices issued for dog fouling offences by English local authorities from April 1997 through to March 2005. The table containing this data will be made available in the Library of the House.
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Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the number of people employed in the farming industry in (a) Tamworth constituency, (b) Staffordshire and (c) the West Midlands. [53449]

Jim Knight: The total number of people working on agricultural and horticultural holdings in June 2004 are as follows:
Total employeesTotal
labour force
(a) Tamworth constituency149447
(b) Staffordshire CC2,7679,851
(c) West Midlands16,95846,782

1. Total employees includes full and part time regular workers, salaried managers and casual workers.
2. Total labour force included all employees plus farmers, partners, directors and their spouses if working on the holding.
3. The county of Staffordshire comprises of Staffordshire CC and Stoke- on-Trent.
June Agricultural Survey

Organic Farming

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what publicly-funded assistance is available to a farmer wishing to convert to organic production. [49982]

Mr. Bradshaw: Aid for farmers who wish to convert their land to organic production is available under Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS). This is the organic strand of Environmental Stewardship (ES) and is a "whole farm scheme" open to farmers who manage all or part of their land organically and who are not receiving aid under the Organic Aid Scheme (OAS) or the Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) which are now closed to new applicants.

Acceptance into the scheme is guaranteed providing an applicant meets all of its requirements, including ensuring that their organic land is registered with an Organic Inspection Body (OIB) before applying and that it remains continuously registered with an OIB for the five-year duration of the agreement.

Participants in the scheme are paid a flat rate of £60 per hectare per year for all their OELS eligible land. In addition, land undergoing conversion to organic is eligible for conversion aid top-up payments of:

OELS is administered by the Rural Development Service (RDS). Farmers can contact their local RDS office for advice on applying.

Notifiable Diseases

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) on what occasions in the last 30 years the livestock industry has
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been required to pay for the compulsory testing of animals under the Notifiable Diseases Orders; and if she will make a statement; [53016]

(2) what the legal basis is for requiring the costs of compulsory notifiable disease testing to be met by the owners of livestock not intended for export; and if she will make a statement. [53017]

Margaret Beckett: Government have generally provided the funding for control and eradication of notifiable diseases, and the framework through the State Veterinary Service.

Cost sharing on animal health issues between Government and industry is a key part of the Government's Animal Health and Welfare Strategy however. For example, from 27 March 2006, herd owners will be expected to cover the costs of their local veterinary inspector's time to carry out pre- or post-movement tests in certain circumstances for tuberculosis in cattle. The Government will continue to fund the provision of tuberculin and all routine surveillance testing at a cost of over £40 million per annum.

Pre-movement tests are a private transaction between a farmer and their Local Veterinary Inspector. Since the fee for the tests does not come to Defra, there is no charge involved that requires statutory authority.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the use of illegal snares; and if she will make a statement on the recent incident at Cramlington, Northumberland. [53648]

Jim Knight: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 24 January 2006, Official Report, column 1960W, on the assessment of the use of illegal snares.

Regarding the Cramlington incident, the Government condemn the illegal and/or misuse of snares. However, we do not comment on individual cases. It is for the police to consider if any offence has taken place and to decide if any prosecution should follow.

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