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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 7 June 2006

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Bovine TB

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research he has collated on illegal culling of badgers. [74327]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 5 June 2006]: The Department has not collated any research on the illegal culling of badgers. However, as part of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial, any evidence of suspected unlawful activity against badgers was reported to the police. Further information is available on the Defra website:

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what price difference there is between the Dutch Lelystad tuberculin and the Weybridge VLAs tuberculin. [74329]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 5 June 2006]: It is not possible to make a meaningful comparison of the costs of materials supplied to Government by Government Agencies and those supplied by commercial operators.

In relation to tuberculin supplies, strict quality and licensing conditions must be adhered to and contracts must follow procurement guidelines, which ensure amongst other things, value for money.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many bovine tuberculosis tests on average are administered to a cow in the course of its lifetime; and what proportion of cows he estimates are never tested in their lifetime. [74435]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 5 June 2006]: The frequency of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) herd testing is determined by EU legislation but this does not establish the frequency of tests on individual cattle. In Great Britain, cattle herds are tested every one, two, three or four years depending on how widespread bTB is in their respective regions; these frequencies are reviewed on an annual basis. The percentage of herds and parishes being tested annually has increased over the last few years; currently, about 25 per cent. of herds are tested annually and another 14 per cent. are tested every two years. In 2005, approximately 43,500 herd tests were carried out on 4.85 million cattle.

An analysis of bTB testing coverage in the GB cattle population has been carried out by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency and published in the Proceedings of the Society for Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine 2006(1). The findings from this
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preliminary work showed that 71 per cent. to 85 per cent. of the cattle included in the study appeared not to have been bTB tested during their lifetimes. However, it should be noted that the study included cattle which had lived through the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak when bTB testing was severely disrupted.

Many of the animals not being tested do not present a disease control risk. For example, some animals in low risk herds are slaughtered prior to a herd test becoming due. However, we accept that a small percentage of animals missing a bTB test may present a disease risk. Defra is supporting further work in this area.

Recent policy changes should have a positive effect on the percentage of animals being tested during their lifetimes, such as the introduction of zero tolerance for overdue herd tests and pre-movement testing for animals moving out of high risk herds.

In addition to live skin testing of cattle, the bTB surveillance programme is supplemented by statutory inspection of cattle carcases at slaughterhouses by the Meat Hygiene Service.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to publish the results of the tests using the Lelystad tuberculin on cattle. [74537]

Mr. Bradshaw: The use of Lelystad tuberculin is being closely monitored by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency. They are providing regular reports to my officials and I will announce any significant findings.

Teacher Training

Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions his Department has had with the Training and Development Agency on ensuring that all teachers have the required skills to provide high quality field courses. [73811]

Jim Knight: I have been asked to reply.

Both the existing and proposed standards for teachers have been the subject of considerable discussion between the Department and the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA). Both sets of standards require teachers to demonstrate their skills with reference to out of school contexts.

The Department has co-funded a research project with the Countryside Agency and the Field Studies Council into the extent and nature of training in education outside the classroom (including field studies) in initial teacher training provision. We consulted TDA as part of our preparations for the project.


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Transport

Civil Service Secondments

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the arrangements are for paying officials from the Department who are on secondment in the private sector. [73483]

Gillian Merron [holding answer 5 June 2006]: The standard arrangements are for officials to be paid from a centrally held secondment budget, with the Department invoicing the external organisation for recovery of costs.

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many officials from his Department and its predecessor have been seconded to the Confederation for Passenger Transport since 2001. [73484]

Gillian Merron [holding answer 5 June 2006]: There has been one secondment to the Confederation of Passenger Transport since the Department for Transport was formed in May 2002.

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average length of secondment for civil service staff from his Department was in the last 5 years. [73486]

Gillian Merron [holding answer 5 June 2006]: The average length of secondment in the last 5 years has been just over 26 months.

EasyJet

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what investigations his Department has made into the air worthiness of the EasyJet aircraft scheduled to fly from Belfast International to London at 9.25 pm on Saturday 27 May. [75510]

Gillian Merron: The Civil Aviation Authority is responsible for the day-to-day safety oversight of UK-registered aircraft.

The Authority has received no report of any problem with the airworthiness of the relevant aircraft under its Mandatory Occurrence Reporting scheme and has therefore not launched any investigation.

Road Traffic Regulations

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the operation of section (a) 54 and (b) 62 of the Road Traffic (Offenders) Act 1988; what recent representations he has received about the operation of this Act; if he will place in the Library copies of such representations; and if he has any plans to (i) amend and (ii) repeal this Act. [69145]

Mr. Coaker: I have been asked to reply.

I have received no recent representations about this Act, which there are no plans to repeal.

The Government do not however propose to introduce a Graduated Fixed Penalty and Deposit Scheme. This would amend Part III of the Act, in which the sections referred to are located and which deals with the fixed penalty system for motoring
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offences. The proposals are contained in the Road Safety Bill, currently before Parliament.

The new Scheme would allow for a graduated system of fixed penalties for traffic and roadworthiness offences, so that the level of penalty would vary according to the level of offence severity and number of offences committed. There would also be new arrangements for enforcement examiners of the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency to issue fixed penalty notices.

There would also be a provision for the taking of deposits, similar to arrangements in many other EU countries. This would require drivers without satisfactory proof of an address in the UK to make an immediate payment at the roadside at the time the offence is committed. The deposit would be returned if the driver was subsequently found innocent by the Courts.

Defence

Aircraft

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to sign the production contract for the Hawk Mk128. [74764]

Mr. Ingram: Development of the Hawk 128 aircraft is progressing under a design and development contract. Negotiations are continuing with BAES on a production contract.

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what defensive measures military helicopters carry in operational areas. [70239]

Mr. Ingram: Military helicopters are equipped with a variety of defensive measures, appropriate to the level of threat presented by each operation. These may include missile approach warning systems in combination with directional or non-directional infra red counter measure jammers and/or mixtures of dispensable counter measures. It would not be appropriate to identify the specific measures employed currently in operational areas as this could prejudice the security of the UK's armed forces.

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost has been since 2003 of (a) purchasing and (b) refurbishing Puma helicopters from South Africa. [75079]

Mr. Ingram: Since 2003 spending on the Puma helicopters from South Africa has been as follows:

Armed Forces (Foreign Citizens)

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what provision is made for citizens of overseas countries serving in HM armed forces to renew in the UK their visas or leave to remain rather than being required to return to their country of origin to do so; and if he will make a statement. [72548]


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Mr. Byrne: I have been asked to reply.

This question has been passed to me as the Minister responsible for Immigration. Foreign and Commonwealth citizens serving in Her Majesty’s forces do not require leave to enter or leave to remain in the United Kingdom. Upon enlistment in Her Majesty’s forces, foreign and Commonwealth nationals become exempt from immigration control by virtue of section 8(4) of the Immigration Act 1971. This exemption from immigration control applies throughout their service and only ceases upon their discharge from Her Majesty’s forces.

Atomic Weapons Establishment

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the budget for the Atomic Weapons Establishment was in each of the last 20 years. [74425]

Des Browne: The following table represents annual expenditure at the Atomic Weapons Establishment during the period of contractorisation (that is, from 1 April 1993 onwards). Costs prior to 1993 were not collected on the same basis and the detail of these, which would be necessary in order to analyse the financial data and establish verifiable comparisons, could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Atomic Weapons Establishment annual expenditure (as at 31 March 2006, 2005-06 prices)
£ million

1993-94

299

1994-95

383

1995-96

387

1996-97

340

1997-98

367

1998-99

336

1999-2000

331

2000-01

311

2001-02

291

2002-03

278

2003-04

300

2004-05

363

2005-06 (Provisional)

493


Body Armour

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence who the manufacturer is of body armour used by UK forces in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan. [74969]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence has contracts with the following companies for the supply of body armour components used by the UK forces in Iraq and Afghanistan: NP Aerospace Limited, Seyntex NV, Aegis Engineering Limited and CQC Limited.

Defence Sector Employment

Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many defence sector jobs there were in Dunfermline and West Fife in each year since 1997. [73478]


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Mr. Ingram [holding answer 25 May 2006]: The information is not held in the format requested. Information on Civilian staff is only held for Scotland as a whole and is given in Table 1. Data on military staff are broken down by local authority area, hence data are held for Fife but not specifically for Dunfermline and West Fife. The data available are provided in Table 2. Data for those employed in Defence-related industries are provided by the employers themselves.

Table 1: Civilian staff in Scotland by year
Number of staff

1997

10,130

1998

9,980

1999

9,690

2000

9,650

2001

9,650

2002

8,830

2003

7,300

2004

7,310

2005

6,970

2006

6,930

Notes:
Includes manually paid staff between 1999 and 2001. Data on manually paid staff before 1999 are not available, so estimates have been used. Civilian data are compiled from the various civilian personnel record systems in the MoD, principally those held by the Pay and Personnel Agency (PPA) and the Trading Funds. Differences in the way the personnel in different areas are managed and graded means that not all the data are fully consistent.

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