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Sudan: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with colleagues in (a) African countries and (b) non-African countries to encourage them to send transport and light support helicopters to the African Union-UN force in Darfur, Sudan. [169201]

Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 29 November 2007]: My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, has pressed potential contributing countries on the need for helicopters for the UN-African Union hybrid force in Darfur. He has kept in close contact with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, which is responsible for generating the force in consultation with the African Union, to complement their efforts.

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Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what mandate the African Union-UN peacekeeper in Darfur will have to disarm groups which violate the UN Security Council's arms embargo in the region; and what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the mandate. [173673]

Meg Munn: UN Security Council Resolution 1769 of 31 July 2007 mandates the UN-African Union hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur (UNAMID) to prevent armed attacks, protect civilians, ensure the freedom of movement of humanitarian workers, and support the Darfur peace process. The resolution also mandates UNAMID to monitor whether arms or related material are present in Darfur in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1556 of 30 July 2004, which placed an arms embargo on all non-government entities and individuals in the region.

Until UNAMID has assumed authority in Darfur, which takes place on 31 December, we cannot assess the effectiveness of its mandate. Meanwhile, we are working closely with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the African Union for the prompt deployment of an effective UNAMID force that will be able to fulfil its mandate.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Nitrates

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of farmers who will be affected by his Department’s proposals for a revised action programme to control pollution caused by nitrogen from agricultural sources (a) within discrete nitrate vulnerable zones and (b) across all land in (i) Ribble Valley constituency, (ii) Lancashire and (iii) England. [173995]

Mr. Woolas: The consultation on implementation of the Nitrates Directive in England invites views on whether the proposed Action Programme measures should be applied either within discrete Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs), covering 70 per cent. of England, or across the whole of the country. Paper “G4—Assistance in the partial Regulatory Impact Assessment including extended Nitrate Vulnerable Zones”, published in support of the consultation, provides details of my Department’s assessment of the number of farmers impacted by the proposed Action Programme in either case.

If the decision is taken to apply the Action Programme within discrete NVZs, approximately 139,500 farmers will be affected. If the decision is taken to apply the Action Programme across the whole of England, approximately 195,500 farmers will be affected. No assessment has been made for the Ribble Valley or Lancashire.

Agriculture: Subsidies

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what financial corrections were imposed on the UK by the European
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Commission as a result of non-respect of farm payment deadlines in (a) 2003-04, (b) 2004-05, (c) 2005-06 and (d) 2006-07. [169445]

Jonathan Shaw: The total financial corrections formally imposed on the UK by the European Commission in (a) 2003-04, (b) 2004-05, (c) 2005-06 and (d) 2006-07 as a result of non-respect of, or failure to meet, payment deadlines in respect of CAP direct aid schemes are as follows:

Amount (£)

(a) 2003-04(1)


(b) 2004-05(2)


(c) 2005-06(3)






(1 )Irregularity Decision 481/2003, and Ad Hoc Decisions No.15, 16 and 17.
(2) Ad Hoc Decisions No. 18, 19 and 20.
(3) Ad Hoc Decisions No. 21 and 22.
(4) Irregularity Decision 678/2006 and Ad Hoc Decisions 23 and 24.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he plans to respond to the proposals of the EU Agriculture Commissioner for capping support to larger recipients of the single farm payment. [170646]

Jonathan Shaw: The European Commission have not made formal proposals for limiting support to recipients of larger payments under the common agricultural policy (CAP). However, they have raised the possibility as part of their consultation on the forthcoming ‘health check’ reform of the CAP. The Government will respond to that consultation next spring.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will assess the merits of a de minimis level to single farm payments. [170647]

Jonathan Shaw: In the interests of cost effective administration, the UK currently applies the highest possible minimum area size allowed under EU regulations i.e. 0.3 hectares, but has not adopted the permitted option of setting a €100 minimum payment level. The European Commission signalled in its recent communication that it would review both the minimum area size and minimum payment level as part of the CAP 'Health Check'. The Department welcomes this opportunity to review the administrative benefits of various minimum levels alongside the potential impact on affected claimants.

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from which part of his Department's budget the penalty for late payment of farm subsidies is to be met. [173582]

Jonathan Shaw: The penalty for late payment of the single payment scheme entitlements is made from a separate ring-fenced budget.

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if the Government will make partial single farm payments for 2007 before Christmas 2007. [173858]

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Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 13 December 2007]: RPA does not plan, at this stage, to make partial payments for the 2007 single payments scheme. It is working to meet its targets of making more full payments to more farmers earlier than last year, with a view to making 75 per cent. of full payments, by value, by the end of March 2008 and 90 per cent. by the end of May 2008.

Animal Welfare: Sports

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government has taken to improve the protection of the welfare of animals involved in sporting events. [170304]

Jonathan Shaw: The Government introduced the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which came into force earlier this year, to protect the welfare of all animals, including animals used in sporting events. Under the Act it is an offence either to cause any captive animal unnecessary suffering or fail to provide for its welfare needs.

The Act also provides powers to introduce new regulations to further promote the welfare of animals. The Government have made a commitment to introduce regulations to safeguard the welfare of racing greyhounds. There will be a public consultation on our proposals for greyhound racing before approval by Parliament. We intend to give this matter priority, although the timing of the consultation will be dependent on the response of the industry to the recommendations made in Lord Donoghue’s recent independent review of greyhound racing.

Additionally, in January 2007 new EU-wide welfare in transport rules came into force. These provide increased welfare protection when animals are transported in connection with an economic activity such as horseracing. To ensure there is no lessening of welfare protection for animals transported in connection with sporting events undertaken purely for pleasure or competition, the national legislation implementing the EU rules (The Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 and parallel legislation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) include a general duty of care provision.

Avian Influenza: Pigeons

Jessica Morden: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of whether pigeons can (a) catch and (b) carry the H5N1 virus. [173620]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA takes a science-based approach to all bird gatherings, including those that involve pigeons (both for showing and racing). A Veterinary Risk Assessment (VRA) using the best available scientific evidence is carried out to assess the risk of avian influenza (Al) specifically in relation to pigeons.

The VRA cites evidence available that pigeons can be susceptible to the disease and in particular a study by the European Food Safety Authority in 2006 concluded that pigeons may have the potential to act as a “bridging” species between waterfowl and poultry.
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However, available evidence on the ability of pigeons to spread the Al viruses is limited and contradictory. It is likely that the susceptibility of pigeons (and other species of birds) to Al, and the clinical picture caused by infection, is strongly associated with genetic and biological variations between different strains of the virus.

There is research available which suggests that pigeons have limited susceptibility to some virus strains (mainly isolated some years ago), but other more recent publications suggest the contrary and demonstrate that recently isolated strains of HPAI H5N1 could infect pigeons. This later study indicates that pigeons may be asymptomatic carriers of the Al virus.

Pigeons could also spread Al mechanically through infective material on their feet and feathers, and there is potential, especially in long races, for pigeons to land and mingle with wild birds while still on the continent.


Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the size of the badger population in (a) England and (b) Gloucestershire in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [173990]

Joan Ruddock: Surveys of badger populations in Great Britain were undertaken in the mid-1980s and mid-1990s. In the mid-1980s the badger population was estimated to be 250,000 badgers and in the mid-1990s a survey estimated the population had increased by 77 per cent.

DEFRA is not aware of any other national surveys which have attempted to estimate badger numbers in England and Wales.

DEFRA does not have regional breakdowns of these figures.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 3 December 2007, Official Report, column 738W, on convention on biological diversity, what assessment he has made of the effect on section III, paragraph 23, regarding a moratorium on the development of genetic use restriction technologies, of decision V/5 of the Convention on Biological Diversity on socio-economic and scientific assessments; and if he will make a statement. [173239]

Mr. Woolas: Section III, paragraph 23 of Decision V/5 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) recommends that products containing genetic use restriction technologies should not be approved for field-testing until justified by appropriate scientific data. Such products for commercial use should not be approved until appropriate scientific assessments (with regard to ecological and socio-economic impacts and any adverse effects for biological diversity, food security and human health) have been carried out. These assessments should be authorised, strictly controlled and carried out in a transparent manner, and only when the conditions for the products' safe and beneficial use have been
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validated should they be approved for field-testing. The UK Government have supported this decision at the CBD meetings. The views and case studies on the socio-economic considerations will be discussed at the next CBD meeting in May 2008.

Biofuels: Imports

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much biodiesel was imported into the UK in the most recent year for which figures are available; what the primary sources of crops for that biodiesel were; and if he will make a statement. [173975]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I have been asked to reply.

The total quantities of biodiesel and other transport fuels released for consumption in the UK are available via the HM Revenue and Customs website at During the first 11 months of 2007, for example, over 300 million litres of biodiesel were put onto the UK market. These figures do not distinguish between imported fuels and domestically produced fuels, and the Government are unable to provide a detailed breakdown of this. We are aware, however, that the majority of the biodiesel on sale in the UK is currently being imported, much of it from the United States of America.

The Government do not have detailed information on the feedstocks from which the biodiesel was produced, because there is currently no requirement on transport fuel suppliers to provide this information. The primary feedstocks are likely to have been rapeseed oil, soya oil, palm oil, used cooking oil and tallow.

Once the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) comes into effect in April 2008, transport fuel suppliers will be required to report on a monthly basis on matters such as the feedstock from which their biofuels were produced and its country of origin. The Renewable Fuels Agency will be required to report regularly to Parliament on these matters.

Birds: Imports

Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many seizures of wild birds imported illegally have been made since the import ban on wild birds has been put in place. [172695]

Joan Ruddock: From October 2005 to 30 June 2007 (the period covered by the temporary ban on wild bird imports), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) made four seizures of birds illegally imported into the UK. Officials from HMRC used their border enforcement powers under the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). These seizures comprised a total of five wild birds.

HMRC have not made any seizures of wild birds under CITES since the latest EU Regulation for the captive wild bird ban came into force on 1 July 2007.

Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will list imported birds by (a) wild caught and (b) captive bred categories imported into the EU in 2006. [172699]

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Joan Ruddock: Throughout 2006 there was a ban on the commercial import of birds into the EU; there is still an import ban on wild-caught birds. Therefore, only pet birds and birds exempt from the ban for conservation purposes have been imported into the EU. The UK does not hold records for the whole of the EU, as these are held by the European Commission.

Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) CITES and (b) non-CITES listed birds were imported into the UK from (i) inside and (ii) outside the EU in each year between 2000 and 2007. [172701]

Joan Ruddock: CITES listed birds can be moved freely within the Community and no statistics are available of specimens moving within the free trade area.

The number of CITES listed birds imported into the UK from outside the EU between 2000 and 2007 was as follows:


















(1) No figures currently available

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