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Dogs: Animal Welfare

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what provisions are being included in the 2014 Animal Health and Welfare Strategy’s vision for the protection and humane treatment of race dogs. [177651]

Jonathan Shaw: The scope of the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy includes animals used in sport. The Strategy's vision describes the world of animal health and welfare that we want to create by 2014, and includes the aim that animals in Great Britain kept for food, farming, sport, companionship, entertainment and in zoos are healthy and treated humanely.

The Government also intends to introduce new regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which will further help safeguard the welfare of racing greyhounds.

Dogs: Internet

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the trade in dangerous dogs over the internet; and if he will make a statement. [177717]

Jonathan Shaw: Under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, it is an offence to advertise the sale, exchanging or gifting of one of the four types of dog where possession is prohibited except under strictly controlled conditions. The offence covers sales over the internet. Any assessment of the internet trade would not be practical as internet trading is worldwide, and in some countries, it is legal to advertise these dogs. An offence would be committed if a person living in this country bought a prohibited dog from an overseas trader and then brought it here.

Energy: Conservation

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the reductions in (a) greenhouse gas emissions and (b) terawatt hours of domestic fuel used as a result of the implementation of the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995. [181181]

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Mr. Woolas: In the period 1 April 1996 to 31 March 2006, Energy Conservation Authorities (ECAs) in England have reported an overall improvement in domestic energy efficiency of approximately 19.26 per cent. as measured against a 1996 baseline. It is estimated that this equates to approximately 130 terawatt hours of domestic energy. No estimate has been made of the resulting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. It is important to note that these figures have not been independently verified.

It is impossible to separate out the contribution of the Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA) from the data reported in other programmes which contribute to energy efficiency, in particular the Energy Efficiency Commitment, Warm Front and Decent Homes.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to bring forward amendments to the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995. [181182]

Mr. Woolas: The Government have recently consulted on their Review of the Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA) 1995, as implemented in England.

On the basis of the findings of the review, the Government identified three options for the future of HECA for consideration in that consultation:

Responses to that consultation are currently being analysed and the Government will publish a summary of them, along with the Government's plans for the future of HECA, in due course.

English Language

Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department has spent on English language classes for staff in the last year for which figures are available. [177483]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA does not centrally hold information on English Language classes for staff, and to collate those data would incur disproportionate cost.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department has (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned on dispersed flooding; and how such research will support greater co-ordination between the Environment Agency, local authorities, water companies and other statutory bodies in their response to flooding. [181180]

Mr. Woolas: DEFRA, with support from UK Water Industry Research, is currently funding 15 urban drainage pilots around the country. The pilots are examining the effectiveness of partnership working between the various drainage authorities (water companies, local authorities, the Environment Agency and Internal Drainage Boards),
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and how this could be improved to find more effective solutions to surface water flooding problems.

As part of our joint research and development programme with the Environment Agency on flood and coastal erosion risk management, we have funded several research projects on urban flood risk management. These include good-practice guidance documents on using Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS) and designing for exceedance in urban drainage. The joint research and development programme has been a major partner in the Flood Risk Management Research Consortium, led through the Engineering and Physical Research Council. In this Consortium, the Research Priority Area on Urban Flood Management has been a focus for practitioners and researchers to develop and pilot innovative modelling techniques for surface water flooding.

Floods: Insurance

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with insurance companies on mitigation of flood risks through measures to be included in the settlements of claims for previous flood damage. [181178]

Mr. Woolas: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment (Hilary Benn), together with representatives across government responsible for the recovery from the flooding last summer, have a continuing dialogue with insurers including ministerial meetings and regular official-level working group meetings. In these discussions, we have highlighted the importance of enabling and incentivising householders and small businesses to adapt to flood risks, particularly through the flood resilient repair of properties where this is appropriate.

We have also engaged with the insurers and other representative bodies to identify any barriers to the wider adoption of resilient repairs and expect the dialogue with insurers to continue through the review of the statement of principles.

Food: Safety

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what responsibilities he has for food safety; what liaison his Department undertakes with the Food Standards Agency on matters of common interest; and if he will make a statement. [178355]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 14 January 2008]: DEFRA has no direct responsibility for forming policy on aspects of food safety, but has regular contact with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on this and a range of other issues. DEFRA and FSA relations are governed by their respective statutory functions and by a Concordat which sets out the general principles governing the DEFRA/FSA relationship and how issues should be handled to ensure effective working relationships with good communications in both directions. It is available from the DEFRA website:

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Food: Sustainable Development

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to include carbon emissions from transport under the evaluative criteria for food labels which indicate the environmental friendliness and sustainability of products; and if he will take steps to encourage the use of water-borne freight as a means of cutting these emissions. [177423]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA and The Carbon Trust are co-sponsoring the British Standards Institute to develop a methodology to measure the embedded greenhouse gas in products and services including food and drink. This could be used as a basis for an environmental label and will include the emissions from all food transport. We hope this work will encourage the reduction of emissions across the food supply chain, including water-borne freight.

Genetics: Birds

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the current status is of the licences held by (a) the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, (b) Syngenta Jeallots Hill and (c) Birkbeck College; and, for each establishment, what comparative assessment has been made of the DNA profile of the Diabotica kept with the DNA profiles of the bird population found in South East England. [175616]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 8 January 2008]: I am unclear about the meaning of aspects of the question and respectfully ask my right hon. Friend to write to me with further clarification. I will then endeavour to provide a full response.

Greyhounds: Animal Welfare

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his policy is for improving greyhound welfare; and if he will make a statement. [177346]

Jonathan Shaw: The Government are committed to introducing new regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to help safeguard the welfare of racing greyhounds. In addition, the Government have made it clear to the industry that a lot needs to be done to get its house in order to help improve welfare standards for the dogs it uses in racing.

I am pleased to say that the industry has taken these demands very seriously. To facilitate much needed reform, the industry set up an inquiry under Lord Donoughue—a former Agriculture Minister—in order to establish what should be done to ensure that the industry has in place an efficient, modern and respected regulatory body. Lord Donoughue published his comprehensive report at the end of November. The Government will want to consider how the greyhound industry responds to Lord Donoughue’s review. Our hope is that the industry will make a positive and swift response to his recommendations.

There will be a public consultation on our proposals for greyhound racing before approval by Parliament.
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We intend to give this matter our priority, although the timing of the consultation will be dependent on the response of the industry to the recommendations made by the Donoughue enquiry.

It is already an offence under the Animal Welfare Act to destroy an animal in a manner that will cause it unnecessary suffering. In addition, the Act makes it an offence of failing to provide for the welfare needs of an animal. This will apply to owners and keepers of all animals, including racing and retired greyhounds, and will raise welfare standards throughout the dogs’ lives.

Hill Farming: Labour Turnover

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many hill farmers left the industry in each of the last 10 years. [180103]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 21 January 2008]: Information on the number of farmers, partners, directors and spouses working on farms is collected in the Annual June Survey of Agriculture and Horticulture. No information is collected on the number of farmers leaving the industry. The June Survey data is not split by hill and lowland farm but a breakdown of farmers in Less Favoured Areas between 1997 and 2006 are shown in the following table. These figures show net change only and therefore include gains as well as losses. The figures between certain years (in particular between 2001-02 and 2005-06) are not directly comparable due to changes in definitions and methodology as explained in the table notes.

Farmers, Partners, Directors and Spouses in Less Favoured Areas





















1. Less favoured areas (LFA) are areas, such as mountainous and hilly areas, within the European Union where farming is made more difficult by natural handicaps.
2. Less Favoured Area holdings were classified differently in 2006 and figures may not be comparable to previous years. Geographical grid references applied from 2006 are more robust than previous historical data.
3. Estimates are based on a sample survey and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling error.
4. Figures for 1997 to 1999 show main holdings only, from 2000 onwards minor holdings are also included.
5. Due to a register improvement exercise in 2001 labour figures prior to this date are not directly comparable with later results.
6. The introduction of the Single Payment Scheme in 2005 has led to an increase in the number of holdings registered. This impacted on the labour totals recorded through the survey in June 2006. These data for June 2006 are therefore not comparable with those from earlier years.
June Agricultural Survey

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Home Energy Efficiency Scheme: Finance

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will allocate more resources to the Government Affairs Team of the Warm Front scheme to provide timely and substantive responses to inquiries from hon. Members. [179705]

Mr. Woolas: Resource allocation to the Warm Front Government Affairs Team is the responsibility of eaga plc as part of their contracted role as Warm Front scheme manager. Eaga are required to respond to hon. Members' inquiries within the timeline of 28 days. This is set by DEFRA for the Warm Front programme, and the vast majority of cases are responded to well within this timeframe. Particular concerns of hon. Members can be raised with Ministers.

Horses: Animal Welfare

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what legislation includes provisions relating to the tethering of horses; what amendments have been made to this legislation since it was passed; and if he will make a statement. [177572]

Jonathan Shaw: The Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act 1988 created a specific offence under the Protection of Animals Act 1911 of causing unnecessary suffering to a horse, ass or mule by the manner or condition of its tethering. The Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act was repealed and replaced by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Under the 2006 Act, it is a criminal offence to either cause unnecessary suffering to—or fail to provide for the welfare needs of—any domestic or captive animal. If a horse is tethered in such a manner as to cause it to suffer unnecessarily, or in a way which does not meet acceptable welfare standards, then action can be taken.

Horses: Databases

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made in the development of the National Equine Database; and what the projected completion date is for this project. [177723]

Jonathan Shaw: The core element of the National Equine Database (NED), which contains basic horse and owner identification details, was launched in April 2006. This database is used by the Government to support the EU Horse Passport Legislation (2000/68EC), as well as contributing to the surveillance and control of exotic equine diseases.

Recently, the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) has, on behalf of the equine industry, agreed to take over responsibility for completing the NED project which will involve the delivery of NED Online, a website containing horse performance and pedigree information to enable the improvement of the overall quality and competitiveness of horses in the UK. We expect NED online to be launched later this year.

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