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10 Dec 2007 : Column 20W—continued

Animals: Diseases

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) which pathogens handled under Specified Animal Pathogens Order licence in the UK for viruses and diseases are not normally present in British livestock; and if he will make a statement; [170867]

(2) what the benefits to the UK are of handling pathogens under SAPO licence for viruses and diseases that are not normally present in British livestock; and if he will make a statement. [170868]

Jonathan Shaw: The UK is vulnerable to the introduction of exotic animal disease as global trade in animals and animal products increases. Despite sophisticated systems of import control, we cannot hope to reduce the risk of introduction of disease to zero. Climate change and the threat of bio-terrorism also present new means by which animal disease could be introduced to this country. We must therefore ensure we can prepare for, and react quickly to, all disease outbreaks.

The Government's ability to respond to outbreaks of exotic animal disease depends on having ready access to specialist facilities where diseases can be diagnosed quickly and with confidence, and where research is carried out on animal pathogens and the mechanisms to deal with disease outbreaks. This was highlighted by the pressure put on existing facilities during the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak in the UK. At least some of this work must be done in a facility with high bio-containment capability.

DEFRA has issued licences to a number of laboratories to hold category 3 and 4 viruses. Details of specific viruses which laboratories have licences for cannot be divulged as they are commercially confidential.

Animals: Vaccination

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Agriculture and Fisheries Council held in Luxembourg on 22 to 23 October 2007 and the discussions on the animal health strategy, what plans he has to review the UK Government's vaccine policy; and if he will make a statement. [170949]

Jonathan Shaw: The Government keep their vaccination policy for all notifiable diseases under constant review, taking full account of the latest scientific evidence, lessons learnt from outbreaks and the desirability of harmonising approaches to vaccination with other member states.

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For example, in recent years we have substantially developed vaccination policy for foot and mouth disease and avian influenza, in line with developments in EU law, through procuring a vaccine bank and developing contingency plans for its potential use. We are currently doing the same on vaccination policy for bluetongue.

Avian Influenza: Disease Control

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received from cage bird societies and other organisations forced to cancel events because show licences were revoked as a result of the outbreak of avian flu; what compensation is available to organisers of cage bird show events in such circumstances; and if he will make a statement. [170285]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA officials and I have received a small number of representations from cage bird societies and other organisations who have been forced to cancel events as a result of the ban on bird gatherings following the recent avian influenza outbreak. We put the ban in place due to the high risk nature of bird gatherings when there is great uncertainty over the presence of undetected infection in other parts of the country immediately after an outbreak. We kept this ban under constant review and,
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following a veterinary risk assessment once we knew more about the spread of disease, we lifted the ban after 11 days.

It is a long established principle that the Government do not meet the costs of consequential losses due to disease control measures. It is inevitable that such measures for avian influenza will disrupt bird gatherings due to the need to prevent wide-scale disease spread for both animal and human health reasons. No Government could commit itself to insure bird keepers against the cost of all the losses resulting, directly or indirectly, from disease outbreaks or the action taken to deal with them.

Beaches: EU Law

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been spent on improvements to sewerage infrastructure to improve bathing water quality in each of the last seven years. [170431]

Mr. Woolas: Between 2000 and 2005, Ofwat collected data on costs for the improvements to continuous discharges (improvement to the processes at sewage treatment works themselves); under the bathing water directive. From 2005 to 2010, Ofwat is collecting the data on costs incurred to improve intermittent discharges, such as combined sewer overflows, as well as the continuous discharges that have been, and will be, improved under the bathing water directive.

This information is displayed in the following table.

£ million
2000-01 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 Total by 2006-07

Capex: Continuous discharges—bathing water directive






Opex: Continuous discharges—bathing water directive






Capex: Continuous and intermittent discharges—bathing water directive



Opex: Continuous and intermittent discharges—bathing water directive












(1)The totals may not equal the sum of the figure shown due to rounding.
1. All costs are displayed in 2006-07 price base inflated by retail price index.
2. Capex = capital expenditure; Opex = operating expenditure.
3. Recurring opex incurred as a result of improvements in 2000-05, will have been transferred to base service at the last periodic review.
4. All costs displayed are in £ millions and in 2006-07 prices.
5. The data shown are additional costs incurred over and above the maintenance of the assets.

Carbon Emissions: Heating

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he has considered the contribution of heating networks towards the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target. [169733]

Mr. Woolas: The draft Order for the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target was laid before Parliament on 5 December. The Government propose an overall target of 154 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) lifetime, which is equivalent to annual net savings of 4.2 MtC02 by 2010 and broadly double the level of activity of the current Energy Efficiency Commitment 2005-08. Subject to approval by the regulator, Ofgem, it will be open to energy suppliers to promote district heating systems and combined heat and power (CHP), including biomass CHP.

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Criminal Justice Act 2003

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the commencement of section 281(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003; and if he will make a statement; [170922]

(2) what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Home Affairs on the sentence for persons convicted of cruelty crimes, specified in the Animal Welfare Act 2006; and if he will make a statement. [170923]

Jonathan Shaw: We regularly review the implementation of the maximum sentences available under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 with the Ministry of Justice.

Crops: Subsidies

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what average level of annual subsidy from the public purse per hectare for growing (a) wheat, (b) barley, (c) potatoes and (d) miscanthus grass was in the latest period for which figures are available. [170198]

Jonathan Shaw: The introduction of the single payment scheme in 2005 decoupled support from production. There are now no specific payments for growing cereals or potatoes.

The average payment per hectare for the single payment scheme 2006 in England was £163. This is a simple average obtained by dividing the net amount payable by the total area on agricultural holdings in June 2006. There will have been wide variations between farms and within the same farm type. This payment was decoupled from production and was not dependent on any production taking place on farm.

The England Rural Development Programme’s (ERDP) Energy Crops Scheme offers grants to farmers in England for the establishment of miscanthus and short rotation coppice. The scheme is currently awaiting approval from the EU Commission but the rate for miscanthus is expected to be £800 per hectare.

Growers of crops used for the production of energy, including rapeseed, wheat, barley, short rotation coppice and miscanthus, may also be eligible for aid under the Aid for Energy Crops (AEC) Scheme. After scaleback due to the area claimed being greater than the maximum guaranteed area, claimants will receive a maximum payment of €31.65 per hectare for the eligible land on which they made a claim for AEC in 2007. The predominant crop in 2007 was oilseed rape.

Dairy Farming: Finance

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much of his Department's annual budget was allocated to dairy farming in each of the last three years. [171023]

Jonathan Shaw: There are no DEFRA grants that are specifically allocated to dairy farming. However, dairy farmers and the dairy industry benefit from a range of DEFRA-funded activity.

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These include: the single payment scheme (SPS); the England Rural Development programme (ERDP) and its successor the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE); the England catchment sensitive farming delivery initiative (ECSFDI); the agricultural development scheme (ADS); environmentally sensitive farming (ESF); top-up to the school milk subsidy scheme (SMS); Organic Conversion Information Service (OCIS); and the dairy supply chain forum (DSCF).

Figures for the budget allocation (NB: though actual resource spend for ERDP) to each of the schemes is highlighted in the following table:

Scheme 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07

SPS(1 )(£ billion)




ERDP/RDPE (£ million)




ECSFDI(2 )(£ million)




ADS (£ million)




ESF(2) (£000)




SMS (£000)




OCIS (£000)




DSCF (£000)




(1) Figures for SPS are net of modulation.
(2) Note that the ESF and ECSFDI were launched in 2005 and 2006 respectively so expenditure was not incurred in previous years.

We do not maintain records which would enable us to readily identify specific sectors benefiting from these activities.

Departmental Catering

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of (a) beef, (b) lamb, (c) pork and (d) dairy products used in his departmental headquarters were imported products in the most recent period for which figures are available. [166655]

Jonathan Shaw: From information held centrally, the percentages of (a) beef, (b) lamb, (c) pork and (d) dairy products of imported origin used in the departmental headquarters were 0 per cent., 0 per cent. and 0 per cent. respectively and for dairy products 0 per cent. (eggs and milk) and 5 per cent. (cheese).

I refer the hon. Member to the data published in the report deposited in the House of Commons Library on 8 November 2007 giving the proportion of UK produce supplied to Government Departments, the NHS and HM Prison Service. A copy of the report is also available on the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative (PSFPI) website at

Departmental Computers

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many of his Department’s (a) computers and (b) laptops have been stolen in 2007; and what the value of those items was. [168596]

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Jonathan Shaw: The following figures show the number of reported thefts/losses of computers/laptops in DEFRA during 2007:

Item description

Following the outsourcing of IT services to IBM in October 2004, computers/laptops are no longer classed as departmental assets as they form part of the overall contract for the provision of IT services. All IT equipment therefore belongs to IBM. However, in an effort to reduce the losses of laptops, advice and guidance on the security of portable computer equipment is regularly issued to users.

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