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Meters: Fees and Charges

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the findings of his Department’s metering and billing consultation were; and if he will make a statement. [123937]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government are currently reviewing responses to the consultation document and considering how best to move forward on the need for better billing and metering.

National Physical Laboratory

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what financial losses arose from the failed private finance initiative for the National Physical Laboratory. [123388]

Malcolm Wicks: In their report on “The Termination of the PFI Contract for the National Physical Laboratory” the National Audit Office stated that the private sector reported a loss of at least £100 million. The delays in the project meant that the Department did not receive the operational benefits of the new building as early as planned but NAO concluded that ultimately the termination sum paid by the Department should represent value for money.

Pipelines: Sakhalin Island

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the policy of the Export Credits Guarantee Department is on support for the Sakhalin II oil and gas project. [123440]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 26 February 2007]: ECGD continues to apply its normal underwriting policy and business principles to consideration of support for this project, on which decisions have yet to be taken.

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Post Offices: Herefordshire

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what post office closures are planned in Herefordshire. [123594]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Government's proposals for the future of the Post Office network are set out in the Department's consultation paper published on 14 December 2006. No proposals have been made for individual post offices. Post Office Ltd retains operational responsibility for decisions on individual post offices. Following the Government's consultation it will be for Post Office Ltd to implement the necessary transformation of the network in accordance with the framework set by Government.

Trade: Madagascar

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent assessment he has made of UK-Madagascan trade; and what steps he has taken to increase trade between the two countries. [122877]

Mr. McCartney: Trade between the UK and Madagascar is small. UK exports to Madagascar in 2005 were £6.58 million and UK imports from Madagascar were £15.47 million. We do not have any specific measures in place to increase trade between the two countries but UK Trade and Investment in London offers general advice and information to UK companies wishing to trade with Madagascar. Commercial interests in Madagascar are also represented through our high commission in Port Louis, Mauritius.

Written Questions

Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects to reply to question 121265, tabled by the hon. Member for Sunderland, South on 8 February. [123073]

Mr. McCartney: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 19 February 2007, Official Report, column 551W.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Migrant Workers

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the effect on the output of (a) British agriculture and (b) the soft fruit sector of the ending of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers' Scheme. [122029]

Barry Gardiner: The Department has not made any specific economic assessment of the impact of phasing out the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) on British agriculture and the soft fruit sector.

However, the Government are fully aware of the concerns expressed by farmers and growers that the abolition of SAWS will adversely impact upon their businesses by depriving the industry of a source of much needed seasonal workers. To address these concerns
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the Government decided that SAWS should not be phased out until 2010. This is to allow time for the industry to adapt to new sources of supply of workers from the new member states. It is evident from data collected by the Worker Registration Scheme that many farmers and growers are making this transition. According to the Accession Monitoring Report (produced by the Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs and Department for Communities and Local Government) between May 2004 to September 2006 some 56,000 workers from the A8 member states (excluding Cyprus and Malta) registered to work in the agricultural and horticultural sectors.

The Government appreciate that there may be occasions when, despite the availability of workers from the new member states, employers are still unable to recruit sufficient workers to meet their labour needs. The Government have therefore made provision under Tier 3 of the Points-Based System (PBS) for managed migration to set up short-term, quota-based schemes for workers from outside the EU to address temporary shortages. This will ensure that we can respond flexibly and quickly to meet shortages in the supply of workers when these cannot be met from the resident and EU labour force.

Together, these measures should ensure that the phasing out of SAWS will have a minimal impact on British agriculture.

Animal Breeding: Dogs

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will ban the farming of puppies. [122902]

Mr. Bradshaw: There are already regulations in place which control the commercial breeding and sale of dogs. These regulations are enforced by local authorities who have powers to license and inspect premises for purposes of animal welfare.

In addition to the existing regulations, from 6 April, under the new Animal Welfare Act, all owners and keepers of animals will have a statutory duty to provide for the welfare needs of their animals. Failure to do so could result in a fine of £5,000 or six months’ imprisonment, or both.

It is our intention to replace the current dog-breeding legislation with new regulations, introduced as secondary legislation, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. We will consider whether the regulations controlling the commercial breeding and sale of dogs need to be tightened.

The Kennel Club have recently launched an Accredited Breeders Scheme which seeks to raise the welfare level of breeding bitches and their puppies.
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This scheme will provide valuable lessons when it comes to framing any new legislation in this area. However, it will take time for these lessons to be evaluated and therefore it would be premature to speculate on the timing of any new legislation.

Avian Influenza

Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance his Department has issued on the export of (a) poultry, (b) eggs and (c) other relevant agricultural produce for the containment of H5N1. [119958]

Mr. Bradshaw: Defra has issued instructions to the State Veterinary Service (SVS) on what export health certificates SVS Animal Health Divisional Offices can issue to exporters for live poultry, hatching eggs, poultry meat and other poultry products.

Most UK trade with other European Union (EU) member states is unaffected by the Suffolk outbreak. Trade to the EU from outside the restricted areas is proceeding normally. Trade to the EU from within the restricted areas is subject to specific EU rules. We have issued guidance on the Defra website on what exports can and cannot take place from the areas under restriction:

I have arranged for copies of the summary of EU trade restrictions to be placed in the Library of the House.

Defra has also been issuing daily advice to exporters, since the beginning of the outbreak, on import restrictions that have been imposed by non-EU countries.

Defra is working closely with exporters, UK Overseas Posts and many veterinary authorities of non-EU countries to try to keep export markets open.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much meat from (a) geese and (b) turkeys was imported into the UK from (i) Hungary, (ii) Europe and (iii) the rest of the world in each of the last six months. [122267]

Mr. Bradshaw: The following table gives the value and volume of turkey and duck, geese or guinea fowl meat products imported to the UK in each month, from July to December 2006, from Hungary, Europe (all of which are from the EU) and the rest of the world. It is not possible to entirely separate imports of geese meat products from the combined category duck, geese or guinea fowl. December 2006 figures are currently the latest which are available.

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July August September October November December
Country/region and type £000 Tonnes £000 Tonnes £000 Tonnes £000 Tonnes £000 Tonnes £000 Tonnes















Duck, Geese or Guinea Fowl













European Union (including Hungary)














Duck, Geese or Guinea Fowl













Rest of the world














1. Some additional turkey and geese meat products may be imported which are not separately identifiable from other poultry.
2. 2006 data are subject to amendments
HM Revenue and Customs
Data prepared by Trade statistics, Agricultural Statistics and Analysis Division, DEFRA

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