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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 9 May 2006

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Animal Welfare

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list her Department's (a) advisory bodies and (b) committees concerned with animal health and welfare; and if she will make a statement. [67178]

Mr. Bradshaw: DEFRA is the Department with the lead responsibility for animal health and welfare. Partnership working with animal owners, the farming industry and others is at the heart of the approach set out in the Government's Animal Health and Welfare Strategy.

The current advisory bodies and committees are:

Avian Influenza

Albert Owen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the impact on the poultry industry of cases of avian influenza being identified in the UK. [68542]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 8 May 2006]: We are monitoring the effect of these cases closely but it is too early to say what the wider impacts on industry will be. Our present objective is to manage the situation effectively and to minimise adverse impacts by encouraging wide public understanding of the issues and an evidence-based and proportionate response.

At present the disease is confined to three premises. Unless there is a significant spread of disease we do not expect a significant impact on local economies. Trade from the UK to other member states can carry on as
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normal and we are continuing to work with exporters and British embassies regarding imminent exports of poultry to third countries.

Albert Owen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what support has been given to assist the poultry industry in the UK to deal with the effects on sales as a result of avian influenza. [68547]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 8 May 2006]: The Government are working closely with the poultry industry to respond effectively to the challenges posed by avian influenza.

Market impacts of animal disease are a risk carried by the industry. But the Government seek to minimise that risk by encouraging wide public understanding of the issues and an evidence-based and proportionate response. In particular, the Food Standards Agency, the Health Protection Agency, the chief medical officer and the chief veterinary officer have all made clear statements to the effect that avian influenza does not pose a food safety risk for domestic consumers.

Biological Diversity

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 24 April 2006, Official Report, columns 813-4W, on biological diversity, what contribution she expects the UK to make towards each of the recommendations; what her timetable is for thedelivery of such contributions; and if she will make a statement. [66985]

Barry Gardiner: The Government were closely involved in developing many of the initiatives agreed upon at the Eigth Conference of Parties (COP 8) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), including in it's EU presidency role in the latter half of 2006. We will continue to support the EU in forthcoming international negotiations, including on the conservation of marine biodiversity and genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction, and on the development of an international regime on Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources.

Many of the decisions from the conference include a call for regional responses and we expect these to be discussed at the next meeting of the Working Party on International Environmental Issues (Biodiversity) in June.

Once the definitive versions of the Decisions taken at COP 8 are available on the website of the Convention on Biological Diversity, my officials will review with other Departments the devolved Administrations and the Nature Conservation Agencies how to ensure that the decisions taken, including the new programme of work on Island Biodiversity, and the decisions on climate change and biodiversity, invasive alien species, business and biodiversity, forest biological diversity and agricultural biodiversity are reflected in our policies, programmes and research for the United Kingdom. This exercise will be completed over the next six months.

One of the key delivery mechanisms for these policies are the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), required under article 6 of the Convention. The COP decision to review the
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implementation of NBSAPs is opportune in the light of plans already in place within the UK to refresh the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, which is both a delivery mechanism for the CBD and a link from CBD to the devolved country biodiversity strategies.

The decision on business and biodiversity arose from a joint UK Brazil initiative in partnership with the Secretariat of the CBD, Insight Investments and ILJCN—the World Conservation Union. We will be discussing with these and new partners how to take forward the elements of the decision requiring international development.

I will be discussing the integration of biodiversity into official development assistance with the DFID Under-Secretary of State at the next meeting of the Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Biodiversity.

We will continue to work closely with colleagues in Europe and the Secretariat to the CBD to support work on indicators and the development of improved outcome focussed reporting.

Elements of some decisions will be implemented through existing EU measures, for example the recently concluded Regulation on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade which strengthens efforts to promote sustainable forest management. In addition, existing EU legislation, in particular directive 2001/18/EC, already ensures a precautionary! Approach to the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (including Genetically Modified Trees and Genetic Use Restriction Technologies).We will continue to provide additional financial resources to support countries rich in biodiversity in the implementation of the CBD through the UK's substantial contribution to the Global Environment Facility (currently £118 million for 2002-2006, of which approximately 30 per cent. goes to Biodiversity projects) and through the Darwin Initiative.

We will also support capacity building efforts over the inter-sessional period leading up to COP 9 in 2008 through DEFRA’s World Summit on Sustainable Development Implementation Fund and through DEFRA's support for the Convention's Trust Funds. We will be focusing such efforts particularly on Africa and on support for implementation, particularly through national biodiversity strategies and action plans.

Game Rearing Farms

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 16 June 2005, Official Report, column 553W, on game rearing farms, what the reasons are for the difference between the figure for the number of game rearing farms given in that answer and that given in the partial draft regulatory impact assessment on the control of avian influenza. [65430]

Barry Gardiner: Figures provided in the answer of16 June 2005, Official Report, column 553W, represent the industry's own best estimate for the UK as a whole; no specific figures are held. That answer also referred to 200 established game farms, while the partial RIA drew on the Game Conservancy Trust's estimate that there are more than 10,000 holdings where pheasants
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are reared. The use of these different classifications accounts for the difference in the figures quoted.

More recently, DEFRA has established the Great Britain Poultry Register to gather essential information about certain species of birds only held on commercial premises in Great Britain. This is to support rapid communication with poultry keepers and help to manage disease outbreaks by targeting resourceswhere they are needed most. Further informationcan be found on the DEFRA website at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/vetsurveillance/poultry/index.htm

John Pointon and Sons

Charlotte Atkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which body is responsible for regulating the activities of animal rendering plants, with particular reference to John Pointon and Sons, Felthouse Lane, Cheddleton near Leek, Staffordshire. [67580]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 8 May 2006]: If the aggregated net thermal rated input of the appliances on a rendering site exceeds 50 MW, the rendering plant falls under part A(1) of section 1.1 of schedule 1 to the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 (PPC Regulations) and thereby is regulated by the Environment Agency. This is the case with the rendering plant operated by John Pointonand Sons near Leek. Rendering plants with less than50 MW aggregated net thermal rated input falls under part A(2) of section 6.8 of part 1 of schedule 1 of the PPC Regulations and thereby is regulated by the relevant local authority.

The Animal By-Products Regulation (EC) No. 1774/2002 requires all premises on which animal by-products are handled or processed to be officially approved or authorised. In England the implementing Regulations (the Animal By-Products Regulations 2005) prescribe the Secretary of State as a 'competent authority' for the purpose of granting animal by-product approvals. The Secretary of State fulfils this role via the state veterinary service. Approval is only granted or maintained if the competent authority is satisfied that the regulation is complied with.

Natural England

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of hectares of land which would be owned by Natural England; what percentage of this land is dedicated for open air recreation under section 16 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000; and what plans exist for dedicating the remaining land. [69530]

Barry Gardiner: We envisage that the majority of Natural England's land holding will comprise National Nature Reserves (NNRs). NNRs cover approximately 89,800 hectares, of which 62,300 hectares are managed by English Nature, the remainder being managed by Approved Bodies. Of the land managed by English Nature, 19,641 hectares are owned and hence qualify for owner-dedication under section 16 (s16) of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Some
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27,935 ha of all NNRs (whether managed by English Nature or by an Approved Body) are already mapped as access I and under the CRoW Act. No NNRs are currently dedicated under s16 of CRoW, although the first such dedication will follow shortly, prior to the vesting of Natural England. The board of Natural England has not yet considered its policy ons16 dedication.

Poultry Farmers (Subsidies)

Albert Owen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on financial support for poultry farmers in other EU countries; and if he will make a statement. [68543]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 8 May 2006]: A proposal to extend the current provision for exceptional measures in the eggs and poultry market was adopted at the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 25 April. This allows exceptional market support measures to be taken where there is serious market disturbance because of concerns about avian influenza. Member states would need to specifically request any individual measures, and these would need to be 50 per cent. co-financed. The Commission has made clear that measures adopted by member states before 25 April may be considered for co-financing on a case-by-case basis, and that serious market disturbance is defined at EU—not member state—level.

The UK view is that these kind of measures must be directly linked to exceptional circumstances and must not be used to distort the normal competitive nature of the EU market. It is long-standing UK policy that public funds should not be used to underpin changes as a result of normal market evolution.

Voluntary Shops

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what Government support is available to develop voluntary shops in village communities. [67772]

Barry Gardiner [holding answer 3 May 2006]: Village shops are important to rural communities in providing goods and services, as well as crucial social contact. An increasing number of village shops are operating as social enterprises and able to sustain the business through volunteer action and earned income.

For social enterprises generally, local Business Links are a good source of advice and support. The Business Link website includes a selection of useful sources of information and business support. More specifically, DEFRA' s rural enterprise scheme, which is part of the England rural development programme (ERDP), can provide support to social enterprise projects such as community run shops, where they have strong community backing and a business plan which establishes the need for a grant. The current ERDP ends on 31 December 2006 and the rural enterprise scheme will close to new applications on 30 June 2006. DEFRA is currently consulting on priorities for the new rural development programme for England.

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The Government have also assisted local services by extending mandatory rate relief at 50 per cent. to include sole village public houses, petrol stations and village food shops under the village shop scheme. Qualifying premises are entitled to a 50 per cent. reduction in their business rates bills, and local authorities have the discretion to top-up all other non-domestic premises up to 100 per cent. provided the rateable value is £14,000 or less.


1921 Census

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer under what statutory authority the Registrar General retained the 1921 decennial census for England and Wales in his Department between1 January 1959 and 16 January 1985; and if he will make a statement. [67180]

John Healey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell dated 9 May 2006:

Birth Statistics

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what forecast he has made of the number of live births per 1,000 of population in (a) East Sussex and (b) Eastbourne in each of the next five years. [68389]

John Healey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated May 2006:

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Table 1: Projected birth rates in East Sussex and Eastbourne, 2005 to 2010
Births per 1,000 population
Eastbourne East Sussex



















Notes: 1. Based on the 2003-based sub-national population projections, the latest set of projections currently available. 2. These population projections show an increase in the size of the population and increasing ageing of the population. These factors lead to a projected decrease in birth rates per 1,000 population. 3. All detailed numbers on which rates are based are available on the National Statistics website. Source: Office for National Statistics.

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