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25 July 2007 : Column 1084W—continued

Crops: Disease Control

Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent research he has evaluated on Tilletia Indica and Karnal Bunt disease of wheat; and if he will undertake a new pest risk analysis of the fungus. [150323]


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Jonathan Shaw: Karnal Bunt disease (Tilletia Indica) is not known to be present in Europe. Originally found in south Asia, it has more recently spread to the USA and South Africa. The disease is difficult to treat and can affect grain quality.

An EU funded research project, which has drawn upon the expertise of scientific experts from a number of member states and from outside the EU, has recently completed a pest risk analysis (PRA) of the implications which the entry and establishment of this organism poses to the EU. A revised UK PRA which takes account of this work is currently subject to public consultation. Details are available on the DEFRA plant health website.

All replies received in response to the consultation process will be considered.

Departments: Common Purpose

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department paid to Common Purpose in each of the last five years; for what purpose; and what the outcome of the expenditure was. [147595]

Jonathan Shaw: Common Purpose is a leadership development organisation that aims to improve the way society works by running a variety of educational programmes for leaders of all ages, backgrounds and sectors.

Since DEFRA came into being in June 2001 and from information held centrally, the core-Department has spent £658 with Common Purpose.

Departments: Crime

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what criminal offences have been created by primary legislation sponsored by his Department since October 2006. [149593]

Jonathan Shaw: Most of the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 came into force on 6 April 2007. The Act largely consolidates and updates predecessor legislation in the field of animal welfare and most of the offences are not “new” in this sense. The following offences in the Act have come into force:


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Offence

Section 4

Causing and allowing unnecessary suffering of animals

Section 5

Mutilation of animals

Section 6

Docking of dogs’ tails

Section 7

Administration of poisons to animals

Section 8

Various offences relating to animal fighting

Section 9

Breach of duty to ensure welfare

Section 10

Improvement notices

Section 11

Selling animals or giving as prizes to children under 16

Section 13(6)

Activities which must be licensed or registered under the section (none yet provided for in secondary legislation)

Section 18(12)

Obstruction of a person exercising powers in relation to animals in distress

Section 20(7)

Obstruction of a person exercising powers relating to court orders regarding animals in distress taken into possession

Section 34(9)

Breach of disqualification order

Section 41(7)

Selling or parting with animal subject to a suspended deprivation order

Section 46(2)

Breach of disqualification order in Scotland

Section 50(1)

Selling or parting with an animal subject to a suspended deprivation or seizure order in Scotland

Section 50(2)

Obstructing a person carrying out a deprivation, seizure or interim order in Scotland

Section 56(3)

Failure to deliver documents or carry out directions pursuant to court order

Schedule 2, paragraph 16

Obstructing a person exercising various powers or failing to give assistance to a person exercising various powers where assistance is required


Departments: Databases

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the annual budget is of the open access database; how many hits it has had per month since it came into operation; and what plans he has to expand its use. [151083]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 19 July 2007]: I am not aware that an open access database exists.

However, Natural England’s Open Access website is part of a service contracted out to IBM which also covers the operation and maintenance of the Open Access Restrictions Casework System and the Open Access Contact Centre. The total cost of the contract is £1,704,577 but not all of that amount relates to the website. It is not possible to break this figure down further.

The average number of hits to the website between April 2005 and January 2007 is 7,868 per month.

Natural England is currently reviewing the website’s use as well as the contract with IBM.

Departments: Ministerial Red Boxes

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many ministerial red boxes his Department bought in each of the last five years; what the cost of each was; who the suppliers were: and what tendering process was used in selecting them. [150478]

Jonathan Shaw: During the last five years DEFRA has purchased two ministerial red boxes, both were in financial year 2005-06, at a cost of £750.00 each. They were supplied by Banner Business Supplies.

As the value of orders was below the minimum HM Treasury threshold for competition, the orders were placed on a single tender basis with Banner Business Supplies.


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Departments: Official Visits

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was spent on overnight accommodation by civil servants within his Department's areas of responsibilities in the last 12 months. [149044]

Jonathan Shaw: From information held centrally, the core Department spent £1,354,759 on overnight accommodation for civil servants in the last 12 months. Information on such expenditure by Defra's executive agencies and NDPBs is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departments: Publicity

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the cost-effectiveness of advertising commissioned by his Department in the last 12 months. [148518]

Jonathan Shaw: For details of the expenditure on advertising and marketing campaigns conducted by the Department, I refer the hon. Member to the answers given on 19 June 2007, Official Report, column 1665W, and on 25 June 2007, Official Report, column 67W.

The Department regularly carries out research and evaluation into the effectiveness of its advertising as part of the marketing process. In the last 12 months, the following research and evaluation into advertising effectiveness has been commissioned by the Department’s Communication Directorate:

In the last year DEFRA’s expenditure on recruitment advertising was £332,000. In the main this was for board level appointments to DEFRA and its partner organisations and specialist posts. The contract for this work was re-tendered at the beginning of the financial year to provide better value for money and a focus on use of the most effective channels to reach potential recruits.

Disadvantaged: Rural Areas

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many of the 23 recommendations of the Commission for Rural Communities in the report Rural Disadvantage and Priorities for Action have been implemented. [152081]


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Jonathan Shaw: The Commission for Rural Communities “Rural Disadvantage and Priorities for Action” report does not present a list of recommendations as such.

The report states:

The report was intended to identify priorities for action to form the start of a debate on how they should be achieved and provide a foundation to help shape the future work of the Commission itself.

Many of the issues identified in the report are already the focus of significant Government attention through a range of existing mechanisms.

We welcome the lead taken by the Commission in taking stock of issues affecting rural people and communities, and in identifying priority work to pursue with a wide range of partners, including those living in rural areas.

Dogs: Animal Welfare

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research he has evaluated on the use of electric shock collars on dogs; when his Department will begin such research; how much this study is expected to cost; and if he will make a statement. [152334]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 24 July 2007]: DEFRA has now evaluated the single proposal received in response to the limited tender call circulated in July 2006. We very much hope that a three-year programme of research will begin in September 2007. As soon as any DEFRA research is commissioned, details, including likely costs, will be put in the public domain.

I also refer the hon. Member to the answers my predecessor the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Bradshaw) gave on 6 December 2006, Official Report, column 420W and 8 January 2007, Official Report, column 272W.

Flood Control

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reason previously planned flood defence schemes for areas at risk did not go ahead in 2007. [150616]

Mr. Woolas: DEFRA and local authority spending on flood and coastal erosion risk management has increased markedly, from £307 million each year in 1996-97 to some £600 million this year, and will rise to £800 million in 2010-11.

Food: Retail Trade

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to encourage retailers to sell locally-grown food. [151079]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 19 July 2007]: The DEFRA-funded quality regional food programme is delivered on our behalf by Food From Britain (FFB).
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It includes a number of initiatives aimed at encouraging retailers to stock more quality regional and local foods. These include both regional and national ‘meet the buyer’ events and support for a series of guides aimed at making it easier for regional and local food producers to supply both supermarkets and the food service sector. In addition, we have helped facilitate more local sourcing of food by providing funding to address issues such as distribution, marketing and the encouragement of new outlets.

Livestock Industry: Research

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will list the research projects which have been funded by his Department into the impact of livestock husbandry on climate change. [150633]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA (and previously MAFF) has, since 1990, funded a specific programme of research on measuring and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture—including the contribution of livestock husbandry. I have arranged for the list of all current and recently completed projects under DEFRA’s existing agriculture and climate change research programme to be placed in the Library of the House. A list of projects going back to 1997 will also be placed in the Library of the House.

As an example of the work in which we are investing under this programme, we have recently commissioned a three-year project to identify nutritional strategies for ruminants that will reduce methane and nitrogen emissions.

There are other relevant projects outside the agriculture and climate change research programme that also explore the impacts of livestock on climate change. These include a study on environmental burdens and resource use in the production of agricultural and horticultural commodities ‘(Determining the environmental burdens and resource use in the production of agricultural and horticultural commodities. DEFRA project report IS020);’ a report on the Environmental Impacts of Food Production and Consumption; and a life-cycle assessment of certain food commodities, including beef and lamb ‘(Comparative life-cycle assessment of food commodities procured for UK consumption through a diversity of supply chains (FO0103)).’ We are also working in partnership with the dairy sector to produce a “Milk Roadmap”, which will help us collectively to identify and work to reduce some of the environmental impacts associated with the production and consumption of milk.

The complete catalogue of DEFRA and MAFF-funded research on agriculture and the environment was recently summarised in the report ‘DEFRA Research In Agriculture and Environmental Protection 1990-2005, Summary and Analysis (ES0127)’ pages 122 to 149 of the report look specifically at research into greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

Natural England: Finance

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was allocated to Natural England for 2007-08. [151786]


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Jonathan Shaw: Natural England’s grant in aid funding for this financial year (2007-08) is currently £180.47 million. Some further funding remains to be finalised as part of establishing “steady state” costs following the organisational changes. The figure is exclusive of the budgets for the agri-environment programmes administered by Natural England.


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