Mr. Bradshaw: The Government and the Devolved Administrations published their response to the Independent Review of UK Avian Quarantine on19 April. This is available on the Defra website: http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/control/avianquarantine/pov-strategy/index.htm
The Government and the Devolved Administrations either accept, or accept in principle, 29 of the 32 recommendations. However, some of the responses are preliminary, pending further consultation with stakeholders or the completion of further studies. For many of the recommendations, the European Commission would be responsible for taking forward any necessary action. Two of the recommendations require further consideration, and one recommendation regarding pet birds has been rejected. These are detailed in the Government response.
There is currently an EU ban on imports of captive wild birds, which is due to expire on 31 July. A decision on whether to extend the ban will be taken at the EU Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health in June.
The key elements of the Government response are currently being implemented and will be in place before imports resume. In addition, all approved quarantine premises will need to be reassessed against revised standards before they can accept any birds into quarantine.
In April 2005 the European Commission requested the European Food Safety Authority to carry out a review of the animal health and welfare aspects of imports of captive wild birds, which is due to report in October 2006. This will inform EU policy and we await their opinion with interest.
Mr. Bradshaw: Science Advisory Council (SAC) advice on bovine TB was taken into consideration by the Chief Scientific Advisor when formulating his guidance to Ministers on new measures to tackle the disease, announced on 15 December 2005.
Defra provided the SAC with an update on bovine TB activity at a meeting on 12 January 2006.Draft minutes of the meeting are available on the Defra website at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/science/how/advisory06a.htm.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will expand the farm management questionnaire in the Case Control Study 2005 (CCS 2005) to include more farmers and landowners in the survey and to add additional animal health officers as participating bodies. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Data collection for the Case Control Study 2005 (CCS 2005) has been completed. The study was put in place at the request of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG) to gather data on TB risk factors.
Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the (a) operation and (b) profitability of the dairy market; and if he will make a statement. 
Barry Gardiner: The Department has not made an assessment of the operation or profitability of the dairy market. However, the Milk Development Council publishes a report on an annual basis which examines dairy supply chain margins. The last report covering 2004-05 showed that dairy supply chain margins did not change significantly from the year before. Dairy farm income rose slightly as a result of marginally higher farmgate prices and the payment of thedairy premium. Processor margins varied during the period. Retail margins generally continued to increase (a Europe-wide phenomenon).
Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of (a) the pattern of volume output in the milk year and (b) levels of profit derived at each stage of the dairy food chain. 
Barry Gardiner: Final calculations about milk production are still being made, but although it appears that wholesale milk production was lower in 2005-06 than 2004-05, it is too early to tell whether this
is a long term trend or has been caused by weather, restructuring etc. The UK is more often under quota than over it and it must be remembered that quota is a limit on production and not a target.
The Department has not made an assessment of the operation or profitability of the dairy market. However, the Milk Development Council publishes a report on an annual basis which examines dairy supply chain margins. The last report covering 2004-05 showed that dairy supply chain margins did not change significantly from the year before. Dairy farm income rose slightly as a result of marginally higher farmgate prices and the payment of the dairy premium. Processor margins varied during the period. Retail margins generally continued to increase (a Europe-wide phenomenon).
Barry Gardiner: The Government supported the conclusion of the Environment, Rood and Rural Affairs Committee in 2004 that there was no compelling evidence in favour of setting up a regulatory body to oversee the dairy industry. It is difficult to see how a regulator could determine a fair price other than by reference to a market price. A price regulator would almost certainly be incompatible with EU competition law and with the common organisation of the market in milk and milk products.
Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will set out with statistical evidence relating as closely as possible to West Lancashire constituency the effects in West Lancashire of changes to his Department's policies since 1997. 
Barry Gardiner: Since the Department was established in 2001, we have put in place a considerable programme of reforms and improvements. For example, action on sustainable development, climate change and energy, sustainable consumption and production, natural resource protection, sustainable rural communities, and a sustainable farming and food sector. A summary of achievements relating to these policy areas can be found at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/achievements.htm. I am confident that the West Lancashire constituency will have benefited from these.
In particular, the West Lancashire constituency has benefited from funding through the National Waste Minimisation and Recycling Fund as well as the Waste Performance and Efficiency Grant to deliver household
waste recycling levels that are currently well above the national average. Singly, or in partnership with other Lancashire authorities, West Lancashire has received more than £7 million to support progress in this area in the last three years.
Under the Nitrates Directive, around 80 per cent. of the West Lancashire constituency was designated as an Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) in 2002; currently about 55 per cent. of England is designated. Farmers in NVZs are required to follow an action programme aimed at reducing the risk of nitrates loss; for example by limiting the amount of nitrogen applied on the farm during the year and by not applying manure or fertilisers during certain times of the year.
Since 2003, local authority performance on street cleanliness has been measured through best value performance indicator BV199. This assesses the percentage of survey sites in each local authority area with unacceptable levels of litter and detritus. In 2003-04 West Lancashire scored 18.2 per cent. against a national average of21.2 per cent., and in 2004-05 19 per cent. against a national average of 18.1 per cent. These results are for West Lancashire district, comprising the constituencies of West Lancashire and South Ribble. Data are not available at the constituency level.
In March 2005 we announced that Lancashire would be one of eight rural pathfinders in England. The pathfinder initiative is a key part of the Government's Rural Strategy and reflects the Government's commitment to devolve decision making and resources to the local level. The Lancashire rural pathfinder is helping to ensure greater co-ordination of rural delivery programmes, including testing new and innovative methods to bring about improvements in the delivery of services to rural communities and businesses.
Lancashire has also proved to be a fertile ground for our Defra's Project Based Schemes which are generally available to farmers to help them develop new business opportunities and widen the skills they already possess. For example, Farmer Ted's Farm Park, located at Worral House Farm just outside Southport, was opened in 2003 with the help of funding from the Rural Enterprise Scheme. In the first 18 months it received over 38,000 visitors including 480 school trips. The attraction also contributes to the local economy by employing 10 full-time and 30 part-time employees.
The RPA will be releasing details of payments made under the new Single Payment Scheme (SPS) in due course. It will publish an annual figure for payments to each recipient under the SPS drawn from its financial records. The information will be extracted and published on the RPA website later this year.
Indicators of environmental quality for West Lancashire district are given as follows, they are for water quality and waste and recycling. Data for other indicators are available only either at regional and/or national level and not local level, or for individual monitoring sites not within the area local to West Lancashire. For some indicators data for 1997 are not available and the nearest year for which data are available has been given.
|Results from General Quality Assessment monitoring of water quality for river stretches within West Lancashire DC|
|Percentage of total assessed river length which is of:|
|Water quality||Good quality||Fair quality||Poor quality||Bad quality||Total km|
|Nitrate and phosphate concentrations|
|Water quality||Concentration more than 30 mg NO 3 /I||Total km|
|Water quality||Percentage of river length with concentration more than 0.1 mg P/I phosphate||Total km|
|Recycling rate for West Lancashire DCBest Value Performance Indicators (BVPIs)|
|Waste and recycling||Percentage of household waste recycled and composted|
| Note: There have been some change in definitions between in the BVPIs between 1997-98 and 2004-05 but figures should be broadly comparable.|
Water quality data are from the e-Digest of environmental statistics on Defra's website at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/statistics/index.htm. The BVPI data are from the Audit Commission's website at: http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/performance/dataprovision-previous.asp.
Barry Gardiner: In 1997 the average price for agricultural land was £6,448 per hectare. Data for 2005 are not yet available, the most recent figures available are for 2004. In 2004 the average price per hectare for agricultural land was £7,786. Please note that figures for 2004 are provisional estimates and could be subject to change.
The Government have sought to establish the facts about the extent of the alleged trade in domestic cat and dog fur in the UK. We have found no evidence that such fur is being imported into this country in significant volumes. The Government have also been working to establish a scientific test to make it possible to ascertain reliably from what species of animal any given fur sample has come.
We firmly believe that action on this issue should and would best be taken at EU level as a harmonised approach would have greater impact, enhance animal-welfare standards within the EU itself and avoid obstacles to the operation of the single market. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs supported calls for the European Commission to investigate these allegations when the Agriculture and Fisheries Council met in May 2005.
In January 2006, the Commission published its Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals, which proposes action in the course of 2006 to address public concerns on the trading of cat and dog fur and derived products. On 20 February, Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Kyprianou stated at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council that the Commission was planning to publish a proposal on the import of cat and dog fur within the next few months.
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