Previous Section Index Home Page

25 Oct 2006 : Column 1878W—continued

Of the cases where lesions suggestive of bovine TB were identified during post-mortem examination (‘slaughterhouse cases’) it is not possible to identify how many had previously tested clear for TB. If this information was readily available it would still not be possible to state with certainty whether a slaughterhouse case with confirmed Mycobacterium bovis infection had acquired it before or after passing a TB skin test.

Carcase inspection at slaughter is an important surveillance tool. Its objective is to provide a safety net to identify Mycobacterium bovis in animals which have not been subject to testing prior to slaughter as well as cases which may have been missed by the skin test. Post-mortem inspection is also an important safeguard to human health.

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many fines have been issued under the provisions of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 in each local authority. [96338]

Mr. Bradshaw: The legislation on fixed penalty notices under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 was commenced in April this year. Data on the number of fixed penalty notices issued is collected by means of annual returns from local authorities. Data for the period April 2006 to March 2007 will be collected next year for release in autumn 2007.

Departmental Waste Review

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to publish the Department's waste review by the end of 2006; and if he will make a statement. [95590]

Mr. Bradshaw: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr Cable) on 16 October 2006, Official Report, column 91OW.

25 Oct 2006 : Column 1879W

National Air Quality Strategy

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects the review of the National Air Quality Strategy to be completed; and if he will make a statement. [96899]

Mr. Bradshaw: A consultation document on the review of the Air Quality Strategy was issued on 5 April, inviting comments by 11 July. A copy of the document is available on the DEFRA website at:

We are currently analysing the responses, carrying out further assessment of some of the measures and updating the baseline to take account of the latest data, such as energy projections. A final Strategy report is planned for the early part of next year.

Newcastle Disease

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the East Lothian Newcastle Disease outbreak; how many of each type of bird were slaughtered; what contingency plans were being followed; and what compensation is available to breeders whose birds were slaughtered. [96844]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 24 October 2006]: Animal health and welfare is a devolved issue and, as such, the Scottish Executive implemented their Newcastle Disease contingency plan. Compensation arrangements were made under Scottish legislation.

Organic/Free Range Produce

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will increase the penalties for misrepresenting (a) organic and (b) free range products. [94443]

Barry Gardiner: The Organic Products Regulations and the Egg Marketing Regulations provide for penalties not exceeding level five of the standard scale. This is in line with the level for similar offences and there are currently no plans to increase the level.

Sheep Diseases

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if his Department will assess the merits of using the Australian vaccination for caseous lymphadenitis in sheep. [95952]

Mr. Bradshaw: Commercial vaccines to protect against caseous lymphadenitis (CLA) are available in several countries including Australia. None of the commercially produced vaccines are currently authorised for marketing in the UK; however a veterinary surgeon may apply for a Special Import Certificate to import vaccine for use in a particular infected flock. Glanvac, a vaccine used in Australia has been imported into the UK for the control of CLA infection in both sheep and goats.

25 Oct 2006 : Column 1880W

The widespread availability of a CLA vaccine in GB would depend on a commercial decision by a vaccine manufacturer to apply for a Marketing Authorisation; however if CLA vaccine were to become generally available, its use could suppress clinical disease in infected flocks without eradicating infection. As vaccinated animals can transmit infection, the use of vaccine in the absence of health certification could increase the risk of spread of infection.

Veterinary Surgeons

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the public petition of 9 June 2004 from Mrs. I. O’Neill and others for an independent ombudsman to deal with complaints against the veterinary profession; and what response he has made to the petition. [96294]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Government have made it clear on a number of occasions that they accept that the current arrangements for dealing with complaints against veterinary surgeons could be improved. This means looking at the scope of any complaints system, the range of actions that the regulatory body has at its disposal, and whether the system is sufficiently transparent and fair.

We have received a number of ideas on how complaints against veterinary surgeons should be managed, including the appointment of an independent ombudsman. We will also look at whether better models exist for the way in which complaints against other professions are handled. These issues are being considered as part of a wider review of the existing regulatory framework for veterinary surgeons. However there is currently no set timetable for making changes to the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many veterinary surgeons qualified in each year since 2000. [96592]

Mr. Bradshaw: The number of veterinary surgeons to have qualified in each year since 2000 are as follows:

Number of veterinary surgeons qualified













House of Commons Commission

Commission Staff

Harry Cohen: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if he will (a) carry out an age audit of its staff to establish an age profile of its workforce, (b) negotiate an age management policy with trade unions
25 Oct 2006 : Column 1881W
and employees to eliminate age discrimination and retain older workers, (c) identify and support training needs and offer older staff flexible working to downshift towards retirement and (d) extend to over-fifties the right to request to work flexibly and the right to training with paid time-off; and if he will make a statement. [96482]

Nick Harvey: The House of Commons Service has monitored the age profile of its staff for a number of years. For the last two years, the following statistics have been produced by the Corporate Learning and Diversity team.

Age September 2005 September 2006

Under 25















The House’s retirement policy has been reviewed, in consultation with the trade unions, in the light of legislation on Age Discrimination which became law on 1 October. The new retirement procedure allows staff to request to remain in employment after their 65(th) birthday either in their present role or in another role within the House where a vacancy occurs.

All staff of the House are required to complete a personal development plan each year. Departmental Training Officers then arrange events to meet identified needs. Training, learning and development are available to all staff of the House. There are no age restrictions apart from where the training might still be continuing when retirement age is reached. Work-related training is normally undertaken in working time, so staff are paid as normal. The House also offers pre-retirement courses. The House’s Corporate Business Plan states that it recognises flexible working will help to retain valued staff which will be essential to meet changing business needs. For some time, all permanent staff have had the right to request flexible working. Working patterns by gender, ethnicity, age and pay band are being monitored to ensure fair treatment to all.

Parliamentary Staff (Foreign Nationals)

Mr. Clegg: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how many foreign nationals work on the parliamentary estate. [96937]

Nick Harvey: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner) on 25 July 2006, Official Report, column 1642W, for details of how many passholders are non-UK citizens.


Aircraft Carriers

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contingency plans his Department has should the Royal Navy require two aircraft carriers for an operation whilst one is out of service for maintenance purposes once the future aircraft carriers have entered service. [94915]

25 Oct 2006 : Column 1882W

Mr. Ingram: The Defence requirement is for an aircraft carrier to be available at high readiness for operations throughout the year. The acquisition of two ships will ensure this requirement is met and will also allow for essential training and maintenance to be carried out. The second carrier will also be able to fulfil the Landing Platform Helicopter (LPH) role when the dedicated LPH ship, currently HMS Ocean, is unavailable.

Battle Deployment

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) which units are allocated to an EU order of battle deployment; [96250]

(2) what resources the Government have identified as plausible UK commitments in the event of a deployment of the EU Rapid Reaction Force. [96251]

Mr. Ingram: There is no EU order of battle or EU rapid reaction force.

In the Helsinki Headline Goal, adopted in 1999, the EU established a target of being able to deploy up to 50,000 to 60,000 troops on a range of crisis management tasks, from humanitarian relief to peace support operations. The UK has offered forces up to a maximum of 12,500 troops, 72 combat aircraft and 18 warships plus support ships. This is not a standing force, but an indication of the numbers and types of forces that the UK could potentially make available for EU-led operations, subject to other commitments.

Additionally the UK has agreed periodically to provide troops on standby in the context of the EU Battlegroups concept. EU Battlegroups are small, mobile self-sustaining forces (approximately 1,500 troops) intended for rapid intervention in a crisis, typically in response to a UN request. The UK provided a national Battlegroup on standby during the first half of 2005 and will do so again in 2008. With the Netherlands we have also offered an amphibious Battlegroup in 2010. Each Battlegroup will be on standby for a period of six months.

The commitment of national forces to an EU-led operation remains a sovereign decision for nations concerned.

Hampton Review

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what input (a) his Department and (b) its (i) agencies and (ii) non-departmental public bodies had into the Hampton Review and its report, “Reducing Administrative Burdens: Effective Inspection and Enforcement”. [89563]

Derek Twigg: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 9 October 2006, Official Report, column 280W.


Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether US Government officials have paid sums to British forces in connection with operations in Iraq. [95220]

25 Oct 2006 : Column 1883W

Mr. Ingram: US Government officials do not pay sums to British forces in connection with operations in Iraq. Coalition partners do share logistical support but where payment is required for these activities, it is provided on a repayment basis.

The UK does have access to US Commander’s Emergency Response Programme (CERPs) funding. Resources drawn from this are, however, allocated directly to certain reconstruction projects in MND(SE).

Military Vehicles

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel are expected to be deployed in a Vector vehicle. [93925]

Mr. Ingram: Vector has a seating arrangement designed for a crew of two (a vehicle commander and driver) and four passengers, with an occasional seat for a seventh person. However, the deployment of personnel in Vector vehicles is a matter for military commanders, who will crew them as they see fit.

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what advantage the Vector vehicles have over the latest Snatch Land Rovers in terms of protection from improvised explosive devices and other explosive devices. [93926]

Mr. Ingram: In addition to improved agility and terrain accessibility, Vector vehicles offer better levels of protection than the Snatch Land Rover against the key threats faced in Afghanistan, including improvised explosive devices. I cannot disclose the specific details of threats and the protection measures to counter them, as this would, or would be likely to, prejudice the security of our armed forces.

Night Vision Equipment

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidelines are used by his Department for the allocation of night vision goggles to troops; and if he will make a statement. [95537]

Mr. Ingram: There are no specific guidelines issued for the allocation of night vision goggles. It is for Commanders to determine when and how they are used and the equipment is then issued to individuals according to the requirements of each task. Priority is given to units either on Operations, or undertaking pre-deployment training.

Next Section Index Home Page