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2 Oct 2006 : Column 2548W—continued

Identity Fraud

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what internal training courses on tackling identity fraud are provided to departmental staff who have access to members of the public's personal information. [86647]

Mr. Dhanda: I refer the hon. Member to the Written Answer I gave the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) on 2 February 2006, Official Report, column 680W.

Plimsolls

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) if he will issue advice to schools to enable children with medical needs to use special, rather than standard, plimsoll type footwear while at school; and if he will make a statement; [91242]

(2) if he will carry out research into (a) how many schools seek to enforce the use of standard plimsoll type footwear by pupils and (b) the impact of such enforcement on children with foot, knee and hip problems; and if he will make a statement; [91243]

(3) what guidance he issues to schools on that duty of care in respect of children with foot, knee and hip problems with regard to the footwear they are allowed to use while in school. [91244]

Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 18 September 2006]: Governing bodies determine school uniform and dress codes under powers conferred by the 1998 School Standards and Framework Act. In doing so they must comply with their duties under the Disability Discrimination Acts and consider what reasonable adjustments should be made for disabled pupils, some of whom will have medical conditions.

Schools and employers (either the local authority in the case of community and voluntary controlled schools or the school governing body in the case of a foundation or voluntary aided school) are responsible for developing their own policies on supporting individual children with medical needs. The Department has published a training resource for schools and local authorities “Implementing the Disability Discrimination Act in schools and early years settings” that provides schools and local authorities with practical tools to improve their effectiveness—both in making reasonable adjustments to include disabled pupils in all aspects of school life, and in reviewing and revising their plans for increasing access for disabled pupils to school premises and facilities, and the curriculum.


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Pupil Performance

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list the local education authorities in England in order of percentage of pupils achieving Level 7 in Key Stage 3 SATS in the 2005-06 academic year, stating in each case whether the local authority is selective, partially selective or comprehensive. [91068]

Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 13 September 2006]: The information requested has been placed in the House Libraries.

Student Transport Grants

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what the (a) average and (b) maximum subsidy per student paid was to local education authorities for post-16 student transport grants for each local education authority for each year between 2001-02 and 2006-07; [91240]

(2) for how much each local education authority in England bid in respect of resources for transport grants for school and college students over the age of 16 years; and how much each received for each year between 2001-02 and 2006-07. [91241]

Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 18 September 2006]: No specific grants are provided by central Government to fund post 16 transport. Local authorities' responsibilities for transport provision and concessionary fares is funded through formula grant from central government (comprised in the main of Revenue Support Grant and National Non-Domestic Rates) and through income generated by councils, including council tax. Formula grant is not hypothecated to a particular service and councils are free to use the funding in line with the wishes of their electorate and taking into account their statutory responsibilities.

Amendments were made to the Education Act 2002 that placed a duty on local authorities to ensure that transport was not a barrier to students of sixth form age wanting to participate in FE. DfES does not provide direct funding for post 16 transport but has made available a small amount of funding to each local authority to enable them to meet their statutory duties by forming transport partnership groups and developing their local transport policies and transport arrangements. The overall DfES funding for each year is 2003/04 £14 million, 2004/05 £13 million, 2005/06 £12 million, 2006/07 £12 million.

Individual post-16 students are also able to access hardship funds from their school or college to help with costs of further education, including transport, and individual learners who receive education maintenance allowance may use an element of the allowance to contribute towards transport costs.


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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Avian Influenza

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Department’s budget for preparation for an outbreak of avian influenza was in each year since 1997; and what outturn expenditure was in each such year. [91052]

Barry Gardiner [holding answer 13 September 2006]: Prior to 2005, preparedness costs for AI were not recorded separately from preparedness costs for other exotic animal health diseases.

For 2005-06 the outturn on AI preparedness was £9 million.

The forecast expenditure for AI preparedness in 2006-07 is currently £18 million.

Bovine Tuberculosis

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to control the impact of the spread of bovine tuberculosis on the British dairy and beef industry. [91080]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 13 September 2006]: In line with the ‘Government strategic framework for the sustainable control of bovine tuberculosis in Great Britain’, we have made a commitment, to work in partnership with dairy and beef farmers, and with others, to reduce the geographic spread of bovine TB and achieve a sustained reduction in decrease in high incidence areas.

In March we introduced compulsory pre-movement testing of cattle in England to reduce the risk of spreading TB through cattle movements. The current legislation applies to cattle over 15 months of age moving from one and two year tested herds. Farmers are generally complying with the policy and TB reactors are being identified, so there is emerging evidence that the policy is helping to prevent disease spread. The policy is being kept under review to enable modifications, if necessary, prior to the planned implementation of phase 2 in March 2007 which will extend pre-movement testing to movements of cattle over 42 days old. DEFRA will continue to work closely with interested organisations during the introduction of phase 2.

To enhance our existing, and comprehensive, cattle testing programme we recently announced that from October 2006 the gamma interferon test will be used more extensively in England and Wales, alongside the skin test, in certain prescribed circumstances. Using both tests in this way can help to speed up the resolution of confirmed TB breakdowns by identifying as many infected cattle as possible at the earliest opportunity. Compensation is payable for animals which are caused to be slaughtered under section 32 of the Animal Health Act 1981.


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We continue to make progress with our research on vaccine development. We have started testing candidate vaccines in naturally infected cattle and badgers, as well as work on developing novel vaccine delivery systems, and we have committed to future funding of approximately £5.5 million per annum for this.

No decisions have yet been made about badger culling to control bovine TB. Any decision needs to have a sound scientific and practical foundation and we do not yet have this. The evidence base is complex and a number of practical delivery issues need to be resolved. The strength of feeling on badger culling, as demonstrated by the 47,000 responses to the recent badger culling consultation, combined with the range of evidence, mean it is crucial that our decision is not rushed. My officials and I have been discussing the issue with interested groups to try to establish a shared understanding of the facts before we can make progress. We are not ruling anything in or out at this stage.

Finally, farmers also have a crucial role to play in preventing bovine TB—not only by complying with statutory policies designed to limit the spread of the disease but by ensuring they apply good biosecurity measures and suitable husbandry practices on their holdings.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in cattle; what research he has conducted on the reasons for the trend; and how this research has been used to develop the strategy for tackling the disease. [90756]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 11 September 2006]: Following a steady increase in the total number of new bovine tuberculosis (bTB) incidents over recent years, there has been a provisional 15 per cent. reduction in the number of new incidents in Great Britain from January to July 2006 compared with the same period in 2005.

The chief veterinary officer (CVO) has undertaken a review of the apparent reduction, drawing on detailed analyses carried out by epidemiologists from the Veterinary Laboratories Agency and DEFRA officials, comments from a group of independent experts convened by the chief scientific adviser, and views from farmers, practising vets and the state veterinary service. She concluded that whilst there has been a real reduction in the number of new TB incidents, it is too early to draw firm conclusions as to whether this is a temporary change or the start of a sustained trend. She also recognised that the reduction is likely to be caused by a complex combination of factors.

A summary of the analysis is included in a recent report by the CVO, which is available on the DEFRA website at:

Further analysis will be carried out to try to reduce the level of uncertainty around these conclusions. Emerging findings will be used to inform policy development.


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Cattle Valuations

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by what means market valuations are derived for the purpose of cattle compensation. [91247]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 18 September 2006] : Cattle compensation for four notifiable diseases (bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis, bovine spongiform encephalopathy and enzootic bovine leukosis) in England is determined each month. This is done primarily using table valuations based on average sales prices achieved for pre-determined cattle categories, drawn up in consultation with the industry. To support the system, sales data is continuously collected by an independent service provider from a large number and wide range of sources across Great Britain . These sources include ‘regular’ markets, dispersal sales, and breed sales.

Table valuations are based on real sales prices achieved at market; the compensation payable in respect of an individual animal is the average market price for its category. There are 47 categories in total and these are split into non-pedigree and pedigree. At the end of each month, the average sales figure is determined. For non-pedigree categories the average is calculated from one month’s data, and for pedigree categories six month’s data are used.

Departmental Budget

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what alterations have been made to the 2006-07 budget allocations to bodies funded by his Department; and what the value of the change was in each case; [91050]

(2) when the last review of the departmental internal budget allocations took place; and if he will publish the budget alterations that were agreed as a result. [91051]

Barry Gardiner [holding answer 13 September 2006]: As a matter of good financial management we keep our budgets and spending under regular review and challenge, and adjust them as new pressures and demands arise. Bodies funded by this Department are included in this process. Following the most recent review Ministers have agreed updated budgets for 2006-07. The financial performance of the Department for this year will be set out in the published departmental report.

Farmer Prosecutions

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farmers were (a) prosecuted and (b) convicted in each year since 1997 under laws which have since been repealed, updated or replaced. [88503]

Barry Gardiner: The Cattle Identification Regulations 1998 (“CIR”), the Cattle Database Regulations 1998 (“CDR”) and the Eggs (Marketing Standards) Regulations 1995 (“the EMSR”) made it an offence to fail to comply with or breach certain EC regulations. These EC Regulations have subsequently been repealed and replaced by new EC regulations.
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Neither the CIR, CDR nor the ESMR were updated to reflect this. Each new EC Regulation contained a provision stating that references to the repealed Regulation shall be construed as references to the new Regulation. On this basis Defra believed it was not necessary to update the domestic regulations. The dates of the relevant repeals are 14 August 2000 in respect of the CIR and CDR and 1 January 2004 for the EMSR. Only convictions obtained after these dates will be affected by the failure to up-date the relevant domestic regulations. The Secretary of State made a written ministerial statement about the matter on 15 June 2006, Official Report, column 67WS.

Under the Cattle Identification Regulations 1998 (“CIR”), the Cattle Database Regulations 1998 (“CDR”), 51 prosecutions were carried out which resulted in 45 convictions. The breakdown year by year is as follows (these figures include England and Wales):

Number

2000

1

2001

5

2002

4

2003

6

2004

9

2005

17

2006

3


Under The Eggs (Marketing Standards) Regulations 1995, nine prosecutions were undertaken which resulted in six convictions. The breakdown year by year is as follows (these figures include England and Wales):

Number

2004

3

2005

2

2006

1


While all these convictions may be considered to be unsafe because of the technical defect the convictions will have been obtained in respect of actions that breached the EU legislation designed to protect public health. I am satisfied that our enforcement procedures have been, and will continue to be, rigorous. Public and animal health has been protected by the work of our inspectors, and will continue to be so.

Home Composting

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to encourage greater home composting; and if he will seek to persuade local authorities to remove putrescible waste from landfill. [91202]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 18 September 2006]: Composting is high up the waste hierarchy and is supported by a range of policies that promote sustainable waste management. National and local targets for composting and recycling are currently being reviewed as part of the wider review of the Waste Strategy.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimates that over 34 per cent. of households already participate in home composting schemes, with 23 percent of British households composting both
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kitchen and garden waste. WRAP is working with local authorities and other partners to increase this further through websites, a dedicated helpline and the distribution of one million home composting bins to households across the country.

Local authorities are strictly limited in the amount of biodegradable waste they can landfill by their allocations under the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme. A further incentive is provided by the annually increasing landfill tax, which currently stands at £21 per tonne.

IT Expenditure

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) projected budget and (b) actual expenditure was on information technology in each Directorate in his Department in each year since 1997. [90652]

Barry Gardiner [holding answer 11 September 2006]: Information technology budgets are managed centrally with only small items of expenditure, such as consumables, delegated to directorates. The overall investment in information technology is published each year in the departmental resource accounts.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which directorates in his Department have overspent on their information technology budgets in each year since 1997; how much in each case; and what the reasons were in each case. [90654]

Barry Gardiner [holding answer 11 September 2006]: Information technology budgets are managed centrally with only small items of expenditure, such as consumables, delegated to directorates. The nature of this control means that overspends are avoided.


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