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9 May 2007 : Column 232W—continued

There are a number of reasons for these discards. The mixed nature of most fisheries in EU waters means that fish of these and other species often swim together with others which fishermen have no interest in (for example because there is no market for the fish or they have no relevant quota allocation), all of which may be caught at the same time. Discards also arise from the catching of juvenile or undersized fish. In order to avoid this happening and those fish that are not required having to be discarded, UK Fisheries Departments are funding a range of work, in collaboration with the industry, looking at making the respective fishing activity more selective in terms of either species or size. The industry will be encouraged to use any such gear modifications which prove successful. The EU Commission has also made clear in its recent publication on discards that it attaches high priority to tackling this issue throughout EU waters.

(b) Discard estimates from other EU countries are not yet available for 2006, but these should appear later in the year. The UK is continuing to press the Commission to ensure all member states provide full sets of the relevant data. In the longer term, there are plans to develop a “Discards Atlas”—a compendium of available information from member states on discards—as a resource for fisheries science.

Food Supply

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to improve food security in Great Britain. [136081]

Barry Gardiner [holding answer 8 May 2007]: My Department published Food Security and the UK: An Evidence and Analysis Paper, a wide-ranging study on Food Security, in December 2006.

DEFRA is improving food security by promoting continuity and contingency planning in the food chain. By strengthening trading relationships, based on more open international markets and reductions in trade distorting subsidies, we increase UK food security by unlocking access to a diversity of supply sources.

In a modern economy, the production, availability and distribution of all our food is dependent upon a secure energy and fuel supply, as well as upon other transport infrastructure. It is clear that our food chain—whatever the degree of agricultural self-sufficiency—relies on various forms of energy and that energy security is a primary concern. The Government's ‘Energy Review’, published in July 2006, specifically considered how our energy security can be maintained and enhanced in an uncertain world.

The food retailers have robust and resilient business continuity plans to deal with any threat of disruption. DEFRA works closely with all parts of the industry to ensure that appropriate support is provided.

Genetically Modified Organisms: Crops

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications for commercial growers of GM crops if beekeepers refuse to place their hives near to GM crops. [133984]

Ian Pearson: The potential implications would depend on the type of GM crop being grown and the specific policy that beekeepers were following. No commercial GM cropping is expected here for several years at least and it is difficult to make firm assumptions about the circumstances that might arise in the future. What can be said is that GM crops will only be grown here commercially if they are approved as safe at EU level, and if there is a market for them because they offer some recognised benefit. We know that beekeepers have concerns about GM presence in honey, and we will continue to discuss the coexistence of GM and honey production with them. From a regulatory standpoint it should not generally be necessary to avoid placing hives near to GM crops, as research has shown that any GM presence in honey should always be well below the 0.9 per cent. EU labelling threshold.

Honey: East Riding

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the value of (a) borage honey production, (b) pollination services from honey bees and (c) borage crop was in the East Riding of Yorkshire in the last period for which figures are available. [133983]

Ian Pearson: The information sought is not being collected and is therefore not available.

Mackerel: Fishing Catches

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the track record basis is for the figure of 257 tonnes of North sea mackerel for under 10 metre vessels in the initial allocation for 2007; and whether the records used show the extent of catches taken in areas IVa, b and c by vessels in each of those areas. [135618]

Mr. Bradshaw: This allocation is not made on the basis of a track record. The allocation for 10 metre and under vessels in International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) area IVa is a fixed share
9 May 2007 : Column 233W
(300 tonnes) of the UK's opening quota for North Sea mackerel. This may change during the year following swaps with other groups. In 2007, their initial allocation was reduced by 43 tonnes to 257 tonnes as a result of a UK overfish of North sea mackerel in 2006.

9 May 2007 : Column 234W

Details of end year allocations and landings of mackerel by 10 metre and under vessels from areas IVa, b and c for the last five years are set out in the following table.

Tonnes (liveweight)
End year alloc. for area IVa (incl. swaps) Landings from Northern North sea (area IVa) End year alloc. for area IVbc (incl. swaps) Landings from central North sea (area IVb) Landings from Southern North sea (area IVc)































Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether any of the 257 tonnes of North sea mackerel for under 10 metre vessels is available to vessels for areas IVb and c. [135619]

Mr. Bradshaw: None of the UK’s opening quota for North sea mackerel, which is allocated to the 10 metre and under fishing by handline, is available to vessels operating in International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) areas IVb or IVc. However, following representations received from fishermen in the North East and East Anglia, Fisheries Administrations have acquired 40 tonnes of North sea mackerel, through an international swap, for their use in 2007. They are continuing to explore the scope to acquire further quota. In the meantime, we will be consulting interested parties shortly on management arrangements for this fishery.

Meat: Smuggling

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the amount of illegal meat imported into the UK in each year since 2001. [135240]

Mr. Bradshaw: It is not possible to make an accurate estimate of the number of illegal meat imports because they are illegal and therefore, clandestine.

The Government have significantly increased the amount of money available to tackle illegal imports of Products Of Animal Origin (POAO), plants and Plant Based Goods (PBG). £25 million has been spent over the past three years. This money was split between DEFRA, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) shown as follows:

£ million
HMRC( 1) FSA( 2) DEFRA( 3)













(1) HMRC: enforcement and publicity.
(2) FSA: step change project with local/port health authorities.
(3) DEFRA: publicity and risk.
£1 million extra spend.

The current level of funding has been included in HMRC’s allocation for future years. Funding will also continue to be available for DEFRA to examine the risks and help increase public awareness, and for the FSA for work on inland controls.

Since April 2001, seizures of illegal meat imported into the UK have been recorded and are shown in the following table:

As at 1 April to 31 March each year Seizures (kilograms)











The table includes seizures made by HMRC at points of entry (and by staff funded by DEFRA until 11 April 2003), those made by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland (DARDNI) at points of entry in Northern Ireland, and those made by inland local/port health authorities. HMRC have been responsible for anti-smuggling controls on POAO into Great Britain since 11 April 2003.

It is not possible to say whether the increase in seizures is a result of more smuggling activity. It is equally likely to be the result of greater surveillance and enforcement.

Rights of Way: Prosecutions

Mr. Anthony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people were prosecuted for obstructing Rights of Way in each of the last five years. [135209]

Mr. Coaker: I have been asked to reply.

Data extracted from the court proceedings database held by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform showing the number of defendants proceeded against for offences relating to obstructing Rights of Way in England and Wales, 2001 to 2005 are shown in the following table.

9 May 2007 : Column 235W

9 May 2007 : Column 236W
Number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates1 courts for obstructing Rights of Way, England and Wales, 2001 to 2005( 1,2)
Offence Statute 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

Failure to comply with order to remove obstruction. Failure to comply with order to remove obstruction after conviction.

Highways Act, 1980 S.137ZA(3) as added by Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 s.64












(1 )These data are on the principal offence basis.
(2 )Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces.
As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

Rural Areas: Low Incomes

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the proportion of (a) English farming households and (b) households in rural areas with incomes below the Department for Work and Pension’s low income threshold. [135245]

Barry Gardiner: For the population as a whole, the Government have a preferred measure of ‘low income’ defined as 60 per cent. of the median equivalised income for all UK households after tax. It may be presented either before housing costs or after housing costs. The Farm Business Survey is not able to provide figures for household income net of tax so farm household incomes cannot be compared directly with the low income threshold. Instead, they are compared with a modified low income threshold defined as 60 per cent. of the England median equivalised income before tax (and before housing costs).

This has been calculated from 2004-05 Family Resources Survey data. Table 1 shows that:

Table 1 : Equivalised household income and low-income threshold, England 2005-06
Average household income, equivalised, gross before housing costs (£ household)
Mean Median Modified low income threshold (£ household) Percentage of households below low income threshold

Household of principal farmers




All households





Self-employed households




Farm Business Survey (England) and Family Resources Survey (2004-05)

Household income data for rural households are not available. However, Table 2 shows the percentage of working age people living in England in households with an income of 60 per cent. below the GB median. Figures are broken down by DEFRA’s local authority (LA) classification. The classification divides LAs into the following six categories:

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