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23 Mar 2006 : Column 482W—continued

Listed Buildings

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made on the simplification of the system for the listing of buildings; and what resources have been allocated to the listing process for (a) 2005–06 and (b) 2007–08. [60701]

Mr. Lammy: A number of changes have recently been introduced to the listed building system. Since April 2005:

These changes are intended to simplify and streamline the system and make the listing process more open and understandable.

As part of its modernisation programme, English Heritage restructured its staff dealing with listing, scheduling and registration into a new Heritage Protection Department in 2005. In 2005–06 there were 56 full time staff in the Heritage Protection Department on a budget of £2.3 million. Within DCMS a team of 9.5 staff work on administration of listed building applications.

Resources for listing in 2007–08 will be determined in the light of further changes to the listing process and levels of applications.

Social Exclusion

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what funding streams her Department plans to finance in 2006–07 to tackle social exclusion. [56087]

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Tessa Jowell: Virtually every aspect of my Department's work is focussed on maximising participation in all areas of cultural and sporting activity. Particular efforts are devoted to reaching out to people who are socially excluded or for whatever reason may not feel they can participate. This ambition is underpinned by our PSA targets by which we monitor progress.

These targets drive cultural and sports programmes which play a key role in tackling the risks and causes of social exclusion including unemployment, poor educational attainment, poor physical and mental health and crime. For example, 80 per cent. of the £151 million funding for Creative Partnerships is delivered in Neighbourhood Renewal Areas. Next year, over £10 million will be allocated towards funding 3,000 Community Sports Coaches, many of whom work directly with young people to tackle social exclusion. Through the Respect Action Plan, my Department will provide £1 million over three years to develop and expand the Sports Champion mentoring programme through which world class athletes inspire and motivate disaffected young people. I have also directed national lottery distributors to take account of the scope for reducing economic and social deprivation in designing the arts, sports and heritage grant programmes.


Avian Influenza

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment her Department has made of the risk to the UK of avian influenza. [58341]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 16 March 2006]: Highly pathogenic H5N1 has been confirmed in several EU Member States, including cases involving wild ducks and domestic turkeys near Lyon in France. These cases increase the likelihood that H5N1 may be found in the UK.

Precautionary measures are in place and we are keeping the risk under constant review in consultation with independent ornithological and meteorological experts and other stakeholders. We will not hesitate to introduce tighter controls if a change in the risk assessment justifies such action.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons those who report or hand in badgers for the Road Traffic Accident Survey may not be told the result of those tests that are undertaken to determine whether the animal was a vector for bovine tuberculosis. [60403]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Seven Counties Road Traffic Accident Survey finished at the end of 2005. A major reason that results were not provided was to avoid the possibility that a positive badger might be assumed to be associated with a herd breakdown and lead to the illegal killing of badgers.
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Departmental Research Projects

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research projects her Department and its predecessor has commissioned since 1997; and what are the names of the organisations contracted to carry out each piece of work. [60577]

Mr. Bradshaw: A full response to this question could be made only at disproportionate cost. Defra and its predecessor Departments have substantial research programmes. Defra currently spends around £160 million annually on research and at any one time has in the order of 1,500 ongoing projects with a large number of contractors.

However, Defra proactively publishes large amounts of data on its R and D projects through its website ( This includes information on live" projects and those completed over recent years. It is also possible to access separate information on research contractors used through this site.


Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate she has made of the number of farmers who are able to obtain up-to-date best practice information from her Department and other websites via the internet; [60053]

(2) if she will provide financial incentives to farmers to invest in internet access as part of their business planning. [60029]

Jim Knight: The best available estimate of the proportion of farmers with access to the internet in England is approximately two-thirds. However, this is based on information from the 2003 Agricultural Census, and the position is likely to have improved further since then. These farmers will be able to access a range of guidance from Defra and other departments via the Internet.

Defra aims to stimulate the take-up and effective use of ICT by all rural businesses. And we support the Community Broadband Network, for example, which provides mentoring and support to help communities access and make use of broadband services.

Financial help to farmers to support internet access is currently available through Defra's Rural Enterprise Scheme. Further assistance may also be available from the Regional Development Agencies and local Business Link support services.

Farmers may soon be able to offset the cost of internet access under the Whole Farm Approach (WFA). This will lighten the regulatory burden that they face. The WFA will cut the time spent by an average farmer filling in forms. Further financial savings will come from more efficient inspections and the provision of advice.

However, the department continues to use a range of advice channels to communicate best practice and other guidance to farming businesses, including booklets or leaflets.
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Gangmasters (Licensing) Act

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to expand the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 to cover other areas of responsibility; and what discussions she has had with ministerial colleagues on this issue. [60469]

Jim Knight: The Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 covers the supply of labour to undertake agricultural work and, processing and packing of agricultural, fish and shellfish products. It also covers the supply and use of workers to gather shellfish. We have no plans to extend the scope of the Act at this time and there has been no discussion with ministerial colleagues on this.

Regulations that will allow the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to commence processing licence applications were laid before the House on 13 March. These come into effect on 6 April with regulations for shellfish gathering due by October. The Government have also announced its intention to conduct a post implementation review, a year after licensing comes into effect, to ensure the burdens on business are proportionate to the risks involved.

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