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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 25 January 2007

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs


Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when his Department expects to undertake research on the use of Polymerase Chain Reaction technology to detect M. bovis in badger setts; and if he will make a statement. [110858]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Department, in collaboration with other researchers in the UK, is already developing procedures to detect “Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis)” from live badgers and their excretions using Polymerase Chain Reaction. The results for detection of M. bovis at setts reported by researchers at Warwick are encouraging, but the test needs to be fully validated prior to consideration for use in the field or for routine diagnosis. We are currently considering research proposals on how best to put in place the work that is needed to take this forward.

Carbon Offsetting

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to encourage individuals to use carbon offsetting schemes. [110648]

Ian Pearson: Offsetting should be set in a hierarchy of actions. The most effective way to avoid and reduce emissions is by changing behaviour. When it is not possible to avoid or reduce emissions, consumers should consider offsetting. When carried out in this context, we support the use of offsets generated by robust and verifiable mechanisms bound by international regulation

On 18 January, DEFRA launched a consultation on a voluntary Code of Best Practice for the provision of carbon offsetting to customers. The purpose of this code is to provide clarity to customers and, thereby, confidence in a growing market.

The Government are leading by example in taking action on their own emissions, with all central Government ministerial and official air travel being captured under carbon offsetting schemes since April 2006. Around 30 Departments, agencies and bodies are participating in the Government Carbon Offsetting Fund.

Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate he has made of the costs to farmers in England of implementing the integrated pollution
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prevention and control (IPPC) measures; what representations he has received on the costs; and if he will review the appropriateness of the current thresholds for the application of the IPPC measures to (a) pig and (b) poultry farmers; [117225]

(2) whether a regulatory impact assessment has been carried out on the application of the integrated pollution prevention and control regulations to (a) pig and (b) poultry farmers. [117226]

Mr. Bradshaw: The integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) directive applies only to poultry installations with places for more than 40,000 birds and to installations with places for more than 2,000 production pigs or 750 sows. Since they are set in the directive, those thresholds cannot be changed unilaterally by the UK. Large units are those greater than 10 times the lower threshold, that is, those greater than 400,000 birds, 20,000 production pigs or 7,500 sows.

Under the Environment Agency’s (EA) scheme of charges, intensive livestock installations will be charged £3,331 for a permit application and then annual charges of £2,229 for a small installation and £2,794 for a large one. The EA is obliged to consult annually on the scheme of charges, before seeking the Secretary of State’s approval.

In England, the total capital costs of meeting the requirements of the IPPC directive were estimated by the Rural Development Service, in February 2006, to be £64.6 million with annual costs of £20.2 million. This includes permitting and improvements likely to be necessary over the next few years. However, there are significant uncertainties about these estimates.

A regulatory impact assessment was carried out on the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 prior to their making. However, this did not consider in detail each individual industry sector in terms of the transposition of the IPPC directive.

My noble Friend Lord Rooker recently met representatives of the industry to discuss permit charges and in particular how annual charges might be reduced through streamlined approaches to inspection. The EA and the National Farmers Union are currently considering options including what greater use might be made of assurance scheme visits.

Marine Fisheries Agency

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much funding he allocated to the Marine Fisheries Agency for (a) 2006-07 and (b) 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. [110505]

Mr. Bradshaw: The following table shows the total 2006-07 and 2007-08 DEFRA funding to the Marine Fisheries Agency. The figures are gross of funding which is expected from the EU, and are subject to periodic in year review.

£ million





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Railway Land

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to combat litter and refuse on railway land. [110607]

Mr. Bradshaw: Under section 89 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, railway undertakers and operators have a duty to keep their “relevant land” clear of litter and refuse. This includes station areas to which the public have access, tracks that are within 100 m of platforms (provided that the public have access to the platforms) and tracks in urban areas. Where this duty is not complied with, local authorities (LAs) may issue a litter abatement notice on the railway undertaker or operator, requiring the clearance of the litter and refuse and prohibiting further defacement of the land. Any member of the public can also take action via the magistrates court, seeking a litter abatement order to get the litter cleared.

There is no duty on rail undertakers or operators to keep other track areas clean. However, where such land becomes defaced by litter and refuse and this is detrimental to the amenity of the area, LAs can issue a litter clearing notice on the occupier or owner (if unoccupied), requiring the clearance of the litter and, if necessary, reasonable steps to be taken to prevent future defacement. This power was introduced by the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 and commenced on 6 April last year.

It is an offence to fail to comply with a litter abatement notice, a litter abatement order or a litter clearing notice.


Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many slaughterhouses in England are licensed for (a) halal and (b) kosher slaughter. [116577]

Barry Gardiner: This information is not routinely collected. The most recent data available for Great Britain, from the Animal Welfare Review 2003, is broken down by species as follows:

Species Number of premises

(a) Halal













(b) Kosher





Young Lambs










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Water Resources

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what improvements are planned to be made to the infrastructure enabling rainwater falling during winter months to be stored for use during the summer; what expenditure is planned on that infrastructure; and if he will make a statement. [110922]

Ian Pearson: All water companies in England and Wales have water resource management plans which look ahead 25 years and include projections of current and future demands for water. The plans, which are regularly updated, show how water companies propose to meet demand for water, and will include any new water supply resources that are needed. These plans are due to become a statutory requirement in April 2007 under provisions in the Water Act 2003 and will then be subject to public consultation.

Water companies in the south have identified the need for five new and three extended reservoirs in their 25-year water resource management plans.

In their 2004 “Periodic Review of Future Water and Sewerage Charges 2005-2010”, Ofwat, the economic regulator, assumes water companies’ capital expenditure to be £1.7 billion to maintain the balance between supply and demand for water, and in some cases to enhance the security of water supply. This capital expenditure covers a range of measures including leakage reduction, upgrading water treatment processes, enhancements to water treatment and distribution, network improvements, groundwater resources and metering.

House of Commons Commission

Recruitment Agencies

Grant Shapps: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how much the House paid to recruitment agencies for the hire of temporary staff in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [117484]

Nick Harvey: The House makes use of recruitment agencies to fill some vacancies on a temporary basis. The total spent on temporary agency staff over the last four years is:

£ million







2006-07 (to date)


The House does not retain information for earlier years. As a percentage of total staff costs, the cost of agency staff varies between 2.6 per cent. (2005-06) and 5.2 per cent. (current year). The increase in the current year is due mainly to the transitional arrangements for the development of the Parliamentary ICT Service (PICT) as a joint body serving both Houses. The use of agency staff is expected to moderate next year.

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Roof Terrace: Noise

Chris Ruane: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how many complaints about noise on the roof terrace were received in each of the last five years. [111412]

Nick Harvey: There is no record of any written complaints about noise on the roof terrace. However it is acknowledged that loud conversation can be a distraction to staff in nearby offices who have occasionally complained and this is reflected in the rules by a request to keep noise levels down.



Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to begin the tender process for the dualling of the A21 (a) between Tonbridge and Pembury and (b) between Kippings Cross and Lamberhurst. [111368]

Dr. Ladyman: I expect the joint tender process for A21 Tonbridge to Pembury Dualling and A21 Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst improvement to begin in late March 2007.

Blue Badges

Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many blue badges were used fraudulently in (a) 2005 and (b) 2006. [110742]

Gillian Merron: Enforcement of the disabled persons’ parking badge scheme is a matter for local authorities. There is no legal requirement for local authorities to provide the Department with details of fraudulent use of badges nor does the Department currently ask for that information as part of its annual blue badge statistical survey of local authorities in England. The devolved Administrations are responsible for the scheme in other parts of the UK.

The issues of misuse and abuse of badges were considered as part of the review of the blue badge scheme. In concluding the review, some 47 recommendations were made to Ministers through the Disabled Persons’ Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC)—the Department’s statutory advisers on the transport needs of disabled people—including a number of enforcement measures. The Government accepted most of these and is currently taking them forward. A summary of the recommendations and the Government’s response to them was placed in the House Library on 18 December 2002.


Angela Watkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the statement of the Minister of State for Transport of 10 January 2007, Official Report, column 97WH, what the evidential basis was for the statement that no test of local knowledge is necessary for certification of boatmasters of vessels navigating the Thames downstream of the Thames Barrier. [111413]

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Dr. Ladyman: The criteria for determining local knowledge requirements were drawn up during consultation on the development of the new Boatmasters’ Licence. The extension of the local knowledge area downstream of the Thames Barrier was not considered necessary following an assessment of the modern day traffic density and tide and current conditions against those criteria. The assessment was carried out on behalf of the Port of London Authority.

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made in the (a) review and (b) implementation of the proposed Boatmaster’s Licence. [111394]

Dr. Ladyman: The review of the proposed Boatmaster’s Licence regime was completed in late 2006 and the regulations implementing the new regime came into force on 1 January 2007.

Civilian Flights

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether UK aviation authorities are obliged to collect personal data on all persons travelling on civilian flights that begin or end on UK territory; [117141]

(2) whether UK aviation authorities are obliged to collect personal data on all persons travelling on civilian flights that stopover in UK territory for refuelling or other purposes; [117142]

(3) what personal details are collected by aviation authorities on persons travelling on civilian flights that begin or end on UK territory; how long this information is held; which body is responsible for holding this information; and which Government Departments have access to this information; [117143]

(4) whether UK aviation authorities are obliged to collect personal data on (a) civilians, (b) military personnel and (c) diplomatic personnel travelling on (i) military aircraft and (ii) non-military aircraft registered to a sovereign Government (1) to and (2) through the UK territory. [117144]

Gillian Merron: In the United Kingdom the aviation authority is defined as the Secretary of State for Transport and, for the purpose of managing policy on airline tariffs, the Civil Aviation Authority. The UK aviation authority is not obliged to collect any personal data on people travelling to, from or via the UK.

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