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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 4 May 2006


Media Briefing

Norman Baker: To ask the Leader of the House pursuant to his answer of 30 March 2006, Official Report, column 771W, whether paragraph 7.1 prohibits the issuing of embargoed statements to media outlets; and what rules govern the issuing of embargoed statements to the media. [68509]

Mr. Hoon: There is no reference in paragraph 7.1 which prohibits the release of material under embargo. It has been the practice of successive Governments to release specific reports and other documents under timed embargo to assist the media in their coverage.

There are no specific rules governing the issue of embargoed statements to the media, but Departments and their press offices are made aware of the need to observe the importance of Parliament being informed in the first instance.

Ministerial Cars (Fuel Costs)

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Leader of the House what the fuel costs were for ministerial cars used by the Department in each of the last five years. [67126]

Nigel Griffiths: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 27 April 2006, Official Report, column 1226W, by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department for Transport.


Air Quality

Mr. Robathan: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what steps are taken to enforce the air quality management areas regulations inside the House of Commons precincts; and if he will make a statement. [65855]

Nick Harvey: Westminster city council has declared an air quality management area which covers the whole borough. It has produced an air quality action plan which sets out the main measures that Westminster will implement in working towards meeting the objectives. In order to reduce emissions, steps are also being taken to remind those responsible for vehicles using the estate on a regular basis that engines should be turned off when stationary.
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Anthrax (Wales)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with her counterpart in Wales on the incidence of anthrax; and what measures she has taken to prevent spread of the disease to England. [66624]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales has responsibility for the control of the incidence of anthrax in Wales and she is working closely with the Chief Veterinary Officer (UK). Officials in the Department have been in close, direct daily contact with their counterparts in the Welsh Assembly Government. Since the outbreak was confirmed on 22 April, the CVO Wales has convened three telephone conferences, involving partner organisations including representatives from the Environment Agency, relevant local authority, public health officials and the State Veterinary Service who have advised on environmental sampling, public health protection and animal health aspects accordingly.

A movement restriction was placed on the affected premises on 19 April 2006 and will continue until it is considered safe for it to be lifted. Investigations are continuing.

Avian Influenza

Mr. Vara: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are in place for the inoculation of the population in the event of an outbreak of avian influenza in Britain. [65767]

Mr. Bradshaw: The vaccination of poultry offers potential benefits in disease control, but currently available vaccines are too limited to provide a general solution. Crucially, although these vaccines protect against disease, they will not prevent birds from becoming infected and shedding virus, hiding the symptoms of disease.

We remain convinced that early detection, application of rapid and robust control measures, and enhanced biosecurity and surveillance are key to the successful eradication of avian influenza in poultry.

We recognise that there are specific circumstances in which vaccination could play a role. For example, we have ordered 2.3 million doses of vaccine as a contingency reserve for zoo birds. The present situation concerns one dead wild bird and to date there is no evidence of any associated disease in UK commercial poultry.

In these circumstances we do not see any role for vaccination.

Policy for human vaccination is the responsibility of the Department of Health.


Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 17 March 2006, Official Report, column 2506W, on cetacean by-catch, how much Government funding for
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the Cetacean and Turtle Strandings Scheme (a) has been spent in each year since it was established and (b) has been allocated for future years. [67077]

Mr. Bradshaw: Defra (and previously DETR) has funded the Cetacean and Turtle Strandings Scheme since its inception in 1990. From 2005–06 onwards the Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly Government have provided a financial contribution to the scheme.

(a) Funding figures for the current year, along with the previous 10 years are:

(1)Includes SE/WAG contribution.

(b) Defra are currently reviewing requirements for research into cetacean strandings. Until this review is completed, budgets have not been allocated for 2007–08 and future years.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 17 March 2006, Official Report, column 2506W, on cetacean by-catch, what estimate she has made of common dolphin by-catch in the 2005–06 season. [67116]

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Mr. Bradshaw: Estimates of by-catch for the 2005–06 season are not yet available. Results of observer schemes which monitor cetacean by-catch will be used to meet the obligations of Council Regulation (EC) 812/2004, which requires the UK Government to report to the Commission by 1 June 2006 on by-catch monitoring in particular fisheries.


Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many incidents of fly-tipping have (a) been reported and (b) led to a prosecution in (i) South East Essex and (ii)Southend-on-Sea since April 2004. [66878]

Mr. Bradshaw: Defra and the Environment Agency have established a national database on fly-tipping (Flycapture), operational since April 2004.

Flycapture collects data at local authority level only. It is important to note that the following data are probably an underestimate and will increase as authorities get better at collecting and reporting information.

Southend-on-Sea borough council reported 1,736 incidents of fly-tipping between April 2004 and March 2005 (an average of 157.8 per month) and 1,591 incidents between April 2005 and February 2006 (an average of 132.6 per month). Waste collection authorities across the whole of Essex reported 25,083 incidents in 2004–05 (an average of 2,090.3 per month) and 21,741 incidents in 2005–06 (an average of 1,811.8 per month).

Prosecutions data are available only from April 2005 to February 2006. During this period no prosecutions were reported by Southend-on-Sea borough council. Local authorities in Essex took forward 9 prosecutions in this time period.

The following table shows the relevant data broken down by individual local authorities in Essex.
Local authorities in Essex

April 2004 to March 2005
April 2005 to March 2006
Number of returnsNumber of incidentsAverage per monthNumber of returnsNumber of incidentsAverage per monthProsecutions
Basildon District Council1211,639969.9128,586715.51
Braintree District Council112154195.8122,184182.00
Brentwood Borough Council1050250.21238832.31
Castle Point Borough Council834943.61254445.30
Chelmsford Borough Council121,04887.31251743.12
Colchester Borough Council1219516.31214111.80
Epping Forest District Council112,276206.9122,492207.70
Harlow District Council122234186.2122220185.00
Maldon District Council214371.51257648.00
Rochford District Council1241634.71241934.90
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
Tendring District Council1157852.51252343.60
Thurrock Borough Council121571130.9121,320110.05
Uttlesford District Council1024224.21224020.00
Essex Total1225,0832,090.31221,7411,811.89

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