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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 17 October 2007

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Aggregates Levy: Stroud

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which beneficiaries of the Aggregates Levy Sustainable Fund were based in Stroud constituency in each year since the inception of the levy. [158549]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA’s Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund database captures information at county-level and has details of beneficiaries from April 2004 onwards. Beneficiaries that have run projects in Gloucestershire, since April 2004, are shown in the following list.

Gloucestershire—April 2004 onwards

Alcoholic Drinks: EU Action

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action he is taking to ensure the term cider brandy is retained and
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not renamed cider spirit in the draft EU regulations to replace the present EU Regulation 1576/89; and if he will make a statement. [158721]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 16 October 2007]: DEFRA is aware that the term “cider brandy” is absent from the draft of the European Union regulation on spirit drinks. We are pressing the European Commission to find a pragmatic solution to this issue.

Animal Welfare: Shipping

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many ships departing from UK ports since 1 January 2007 carrying live animals have been subject to inspection for animal welfare purposes; and what percentage of sailings this constitutes. [157789]

Jonathan Shaw: Since January 2007, two specialist livestock vessels have operated out of Dover. These vessels have also had a limited number of sailings from Sheerness and Ipswich port. Animal Health carry out welfare inspections on a percentage of all the animal transport vehicles travelling on these vessels.

Combined figures for the vessels show that, of 104 sailings, 97 included physical and documentary checks on a number of the vehicles onboard. This means that over 93 per cent. of the sailings had welfare checks carried out on their vehicles.

Cattle: Transport

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cattle passport applications he expects to be received late due to the postal strike; and how many cattle he estimates this will render valueless. [157275]

Jonathan Shaw: BCMS receives around 49,000 applications each week for cattle passports. Passports are produced provided there is reasonable evidence to show that farmers submitted applications in good time or were prevented from doing so by factors outside their control. These factors include known postal strikes.

If applications were not submitted in reasonable time then a passport would be refused and farmers would be unable to move the animal from their holding. 0.35 per cent. of all applications received are normally refused, subject to appeal because they are late. The figures from the last postal strike show that 0.45 per cent. of applications were initially refused. Three quarters of these appealed against the decision and were successful because of the postal strike delays. This compares with 55 per cent. of such appeals during a similar period the previous year.

Departments: Public Expenditure

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what accounts directions were issued by his Department in financial years (a) 2005-06 and (b) 2006-07. [156622]

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Jonathan Shaw: Under the Government Resource and Accounts Act 2000 HM Treasury issues accounts directions to Departments, pension schemes and agencies and under the Government Trading Fund Act 1973 to trading funds.

For the years 2005-06 and 2006-07 Department has issued accounts directions for the form and content of resource and other accounts to the following sponsored bodies;



Flood Control

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to implement the recommendations of the review, Flooding Lessons Learned, chaired by Sir Michael Pitt. [158753]

Mr. Woolas: The Government await the findings of the Flooding Lessons Learned review and will respond as positively as possible to the recommendations.

Food: Procurement

Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he intends to assess the effectiveness of the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative in respect of small and local meat producers. [157329]

Jonathan Shaw: Earlier this year, DEFRA commissioned Ipsos MORI to gauge awareness of the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative (PSFPI) in
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schools and local authorities. The survey included questions on the proportion of tenders from small and local producers, including meat producers. The results were positive with:

The report also found that in 52 per cent. of the local authorities and 44 per cent. of schools the proportion of food supplied by small and local producers during the last two to three years had increased.

A copy of the Ipsos MORI survey is on the PSFPI website at http://www.defra.gov.uk/farm/policy/sustain/procurement/school-food.htm. It was conducted during the period March to July 2007 and covered 81 local authorities and 255 schools.

Recent research by the Meat and Livestock Commission, based on estimates provided by 126 English local authorities, suggests that 39 per cent. of their meat by volume was locally sourced. The figure may exaggerate the amount of locally farmed meat supplied as not all local authorities seek provenance.

In addition to the research mentioned above, DEFRA is currently collating data from across central Government to determine the proportion of publicly procured food that is British. We aim to publish the information before the end of this month.

Foot and Mouth Disease: Compensation

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what compensation will be made available to (a) auction marts which suffered closure owing to foot and mouth measures and (b) farmers who were unable to enter their stock for sale in such auction marts. [R] [157080]

Jonathan Shaw: There are no plans to compensate auction markets who suffered closure owing to foot and mouth measures, or farmers who were unable to enter their stock for sale in such auction markets.

Under the Animal Health Act 1981, compensation is paid for animals that are compulsorily slaughtered to prevent the spread of disease. For foot and mouth disease (FMD), the Act requires that compensation is paid at the full market value before the animal became infected. This is determined by an approved valuer at the time of slaughter. Compensation is also paid for other items, such as farm equipment and feed, where these are seized because they are considered to be contaminated; this includes such things as milk. However, it is a long established principle that the Government do not meet the costs of consequential losses, which must be borne by the industry. Government seek to minimise the risk of market impacts, particularly by encouraging public understanding of the issues.

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We are taking a risk-based and staged approach to easing movement restrictions when the evidence indicates that it is appropriate to do so. This is the best way to facilitate the return to normal working for the industry. We are working in partnership with the industry, but eradication of foot and mouth disease remains our priority.

National Fallen Stock Collection and Disposal Scheme

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make support for the increased costs of collection available to those farmers with fallen stock in low risk areas which are now dependent upon using the National Fallen Stock Company for collection. [158161]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 16 October 2007]: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State (Hilary Benn) announced on 8 October 2007, Official Report , column 39, that DEFRA would provide £1 million to raise the level of subsidy for the National Fallen Stock scheme for farmers in the foot and mouth (FMD) risk area from 10 per cent. to 100 per cent. This is targeted to help the livestock farmers that have been worst affected financially from restrictions imposed as a result of FMD and this will be available to all livestock keepers in the FMD risk area.

The National Fallen Stock scheme will continue as normal in the rest of the UK and for non-susceptible livestock in the risk area, subject to FMD licensing controls. There are no plans for any extra support to be introduced.

Women and Equality

Equality and Human Rights Commission: Manpower

Mrs. May: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many staff were employed by the (a) Commission for Racial Equality, (b) Disability Rights Commission and (c) Equal Opportunities Commission prior to the establishment of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. [157110]

Barbara Follett: No staff were made redundant from any of the legacy commissions. However the three commissions ran voluntary severance schemes and the following numbers left the commissions: CRE had 78 leavers, DRC had 68 leavers and EOC had 39 leavers.


Youth Citizenship Commission

David Mundell: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when the Government expect to launch the Youth Citizenship Commission, as announced in the Green Paper: The Governance of Britain; and what discussions he has had with the Scottish Executive on the involvement of young people from Scotland in the initiative. [156388]

Beverley Hughes: I have been asked to reply.

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The Youth Citizenship Commission will report to the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families and the Secretary of State for Justice. It will be launched this autumn. There have been discussions at official level between the Secretariat for the Commission and the Scottish Executive.

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