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18 July 2007 : Column 385W—continued

Net farm income is defined as the return to the principal farmer and spouse for their manual and managerial labour and on the tenant type capital of the business. It excludes all income arising from outside the farm business.

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Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of levels of fish stocks in UK waters. [150080]

Jonathan Shaw: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 19 June 2007, Official Report, columns 1662-63W.

Fisheries: Quotas

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent estimates his Department has made of illegal fishing volumes (a) inland and (b) at sea; and if he will make a statement. [150115]

Jonathan Shaw: By its very nature illegal fishing is clandestine and so it is extremely difficult to make an accurate estimate of the levels of illegal fishing activities. We therefore use the level of prosecutions as a proxy for the level of illegal activity. Data below relates to inland and sea fisheries in England and Wales.

For inland Fisheries, the National Enforcement Database holds information that relates to offences where nets, snares, traps and spears have been used and where unauthorised fishing and failing to return fish has taken place. It predominantly records cases where serious poaching has occurred, which can result in imprisonment.

The following table shows the total number of fisheries convictions per year 2002-06.












National Enforcement Database

The total number of convictions under the Sea Fisheries Regulations Act 1966 are as follows.












National Enforcement Database

The following table shows the total number of convictions where people have been found to be fishing without a rod licence. This type of conviction holds a maximum fine of £2,500. The Fisheries Offence Prosecution System records cases involving salmon, trout, freshwater fish and eels. It does not include convictions for salt water related cases.

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Fisheries Offence Prosecution System

At sea, the total numbers of sea fisheries offences detected in England and Wales per year resulting in convictions are set out as follows:
















The above table refers to the year in which the offences were detected. Convictions may occur in the same or following years.
Marine and Fisheries Agency—UK Fisheries Monitoring, Control and Surveillance System.

At the international level, with the caveat that estimates are based on a few case studies, recent UK funded work has reported that fish to the value of $4 billion US to $9 billion US are caught illegally worldwide every year. The UK is one of the countries in the international arena leading the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, following the recommendations of the 2006 High Seas Task Force report, “Closing the Net”. Together with international partners we have made progress on key projects aimed at exposing illegal activities, deterring them and improving enforcement action against those responsible.

Floods: Shropshire

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures have been put in place to assist those affected by floods in Shifnal in Shropshire. [149199]

John Healey: I have been asked to reply.

The package of immediate support for flood hit areas announced by the Prime Minister on 7 July included a fund of £10 million to local authorities to support the work being done to help recovery for those hardest hit. On 13 July I approved a series of initial Flood Recovery Grant payments to 34 flood hit local authorities to help those in greatest and most immediate need get back on their feet.

On the basis of the relative number of households affected (based on the available information at the time) £50,000 was awarded to Bridgnorth district council in Shropshire. It is up to Bridgnorth district council to spend the money how they wish in line with local priorities and to decide what measures should be put in place to assist those affected in places such as Shifnal.

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The £10 million is additional money to any resources provided under the Bellwin scheme which Bridgnorth district council may be in a position to apply for.

Paté de Fois Gras

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will bring forward proposals to ban the sale of foie gras. [149284]

Jonathan Shaw: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell) on 25 June 2007, Official Report, column 83W.

Pet Shops

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he proposes to bring forward regulations to ban the sale of puppies and kittens through pet shops. [149481]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA does not propose to ban the sale of puppies and kittens through pet shops. However, new regulations on pet vending will be introduced under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. We are considering a number of changes to improve the welfare of all animals sold through pet shops. All proposals will be subject to public consultation and parliamentary approval.

Sheep: Electronic Tagging

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the cost to the farming industry of implementing the sheep double tagging regulations; and if he will make a statement. [149160]

Jonathan Shaw: The Department’s regulatory impact assessment (RIA), produced in 2005 to assess the options available for implementing European Union Council Regulation 21/2004, identified that implementation of the double tagging requirements would actually be cheaper than maintaining the national arrangements in place at the time. A revised RIA is being prepared to assess present day costs, but the 2005 estimates indicated there would be an annual saving to the industry in the order of around £2.8 million a year if double tagging, as provided for by the regulation, was introduced. Double tagging was not introduced at the time because of traceability issues and because it was not supported by industry.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons he decided to withdraw the application to the European Commission for the extension to sheep double tagging derogation; what advice he received on this course of action; and if he will make a statement. [149161]

Jonathan Shaw: The European Union’s Food and Veterinary Office report on the latest mission was uncompromising. It identified that compliance with the derogated rules on sheep identification and movement reporting by the industry remained inadequate. The
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European Commission made it very clear that they would not propose an extension to the UK derogation from double tagging. With the agreement of sheep industry stakeholders, the application for the derogation was withdrawn. Not to have done so might have compromised the outcome of forthcoming negotiations on the electronic identification of sheep.

Water Supply

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of long-term future water supply. [150083]

Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency is the statutory body with the duty for managing water resources in England and Wales. Its aim is to ensure that the management and future development of our water resources is carried out in a sustainable manner.

In 2001, the Environment Agency published “Water Resources for the Future—A Strategy for England and Wales”. This is a key part of the framework for integrated water resources planning carried out by the Environment Agency and water users, particularly the water companies. The publication considers both national and regional water resource strategies. These strategies set out pressures on water resources and how the Environment Agency expects these to be managed over the next 25 years.

In addition, all water companies in England and Wales have water resource management plans that describe how each company aims to secure a sustainable supply-demand balance for the public water supply over the next 25 years. Under the provisions of the Water Act 2003 these plans became mandatory from 1 April 2007 and for the first time they will be subject to public consultation.

Home Department


Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent tests her Department has carried out on the effectiveness of biometric (a) fingerprints, (b) iris scan and (c) facial identification systems. [149610]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 16 July 2007]: The Biometrics Centre of Expertise (BCE) was created two years ago and is a part of the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB). Its work includes following developments in fingerprint, iris and face recognition technologies. The BCE provide advice to Government Departments (such as UKVisas, Border and Immigration Agency (including eBorders), IPS) running biometric programmes, several of which have included testing as part of the procurement and implementation phases.

The BCE also maintain strong relationships with academia, industry and foreign governments which have conducted biometric testing. The BCE have not specifically commissioned biometric testing in relation to fingerprint, iris or face recognition however, the
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team has part funded the MTIT (Minutiae Template Interoperability Testing) project—a European project under the Sixth Framework programme (STREP)—which had a substantial testing component.

In policing, the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) took over responsibility from PITO for the IDENT1 national finger and palm print system for the UK police service from 1 April 2007. As part of the supplier selection process for IDENT1 in 2004, PITO undertook extensive operational accuracy benchmarks of the two shortlisted suppliers’ proposals. As a result of those tests, the NPIA is able to give assurance to the police service that IDENT1 search accuracy represents the state of the art for large scale biometric systems, in a law enforcement environment, and that it is fully capable of meeting the police requirements for both forensic identification and for the ongoing identity management of offenders, based on their fingerprints.

The matching performance of IDENT1 is routinely monitored and assessed by Northrop Grumman (the system integrator responsible for delivering the service) to ensure that it continues to meet the operational requirements of the UK police service.

The NPIA has undertaken no tests recently on iris or face, but are evaluating the potential for face recognition technologies for policing and plan to undertake some tests shortly.


Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when she next expects to visit Bournemouth on official business. [148194]

Mr. Byrne: I have no current plans to visit Bournemouth.

Children: Internet

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) internet service providers, (b) social networking sites and (c) other IT companies have adapted the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre’s report abuse mechanism. [149448]

Mr. Coaker: The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, which was launched in April 2006, works across the UK and maximises international links to deliver a holistic approach to tackling child sex abuse wherever and whenever it happens, in particular, from those who use the internet and other new technologies in the sexual exploitation of children. It combines police powers with the dedicated expertise of business sectors, government, specialist charities and other interested organisations.

CEOP Centre’s report abuse mechanism allows members of the public to report potentially illegal activity (such as allegations of sexual grooming) direct to law enforcement. To date, over 750,000 children across the UK have been educated on how to use this reporting mechanism. The Home Secretary’s Task Force has set up a working group which includes representatives from social network providers, CEOP and children’s charities, to look at the range of safety issues for children caused by the development and
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growth of social networking sites and develop good practice guidelines. We hope to publish this soon. One of the key areas under discussion is the means by which the public can make reports about potentially illegal activity to CEOP when they are online. One of the largest providers of Instant Messaging (IM) services in the UK has embedded the report abuse mechanism into its IM.

Electronic Surveillance: Admissibility of Evidence

Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether intercept evidence obtained by British security services is, in any circumstances, available and admissible as court evidence in foreign jurisdictions. [149413]

Mr. McNulty: The statutory prohibition on the use of intercept as evidence applies to all warranted interception undertaken on behalf of any UK intercepting agency, including the security service. However, under the EU Mutual Legal Assistance Convention arrangements, an EU member state can request the UK to undertake interception on behalf of one of its law enforcement agencies. This would be subject to restrictions imposed by the Secretary of State which can stipulate, amongst other things, that the material is not used in evidence.

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