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Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what air quality management areas there are in the south-east region of England, broken down by (a) location and (b) year of designation. 
Jonathan Shaw: To date, around 229 local authorities have designated air quality management areas in the UK. 40 of the authorities are in the south-east region of England which are listed in the following table.
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(2) pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 22 January 2007, on the outcome of the December 2007 Agriculture and Fisheries Council, what steps are being taken to resolve the technical problem resulting from the omission of the term cider brandy; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) for what reason cider brandy was omitted from the product descriptions in the European Regulation on the definition, description and labelling of spirit drinks; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) for what reasons he voted in favour of the regulation on the definition, description and labelling of spirit drinks at the December 2007 Agriculture and Fisheries Council; how the representatives of other governments voted; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: A number of wine producing member states objected to the term cider brandy being included in the regulation. When the issue was originally raised by one of the cider brandy producers the European Parliament and Council had already agreed a first reading deal. The European Commission made it clear that it would not be possible to re-open the agreed text at such a late stage in the legislative process.
At the December 2007 Agriculture and Fisheries Council, the Council adopted by qualified majority a regulation on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks. I voted in favour of this regulation but drew attention to the need to resolve the problem resulting from the omission of the term "cider brandy" from permitted product descriptions in the new regulation. We understand that the industry met with the European Commission at the end of last year and were informed that this issue may be resolved by applying for geographical indication status for cider brandy. We will be pursuing the workability of this solution with the Commission shortly.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to report to the House on the feasibility study on ending the use of non-domesticated animals in travelling circuses. 
Jonathan Shaw: Officials are considering the feasibility of introducing secondary legislation under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to promote the welfare of wild animals involved in acts. As part of this work, we are currently preparing an impact assessment, looking into the regulation of wild animals in circuses, which should be ready in early spring. I shall inform parliamentary colleagues of the conclusions that were reached.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the European Food Standards Agencys draft scientific opinions relating to (a) animal health and welfare and (b) the environmental impact of cloned animals, their offspring and the products obtained from them; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance he has issued on the slaughter, on grounds of welfare and animal health, of animals living in religious communities which regard such animals as sacred; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 4 February 2008]: No formal guidance has been issued. However, I fully recognise the importance of respecting different beliefs and points of view and working at accommodating these within the law.
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 places a formal duty on animal keepers to care for their animalsthey must not allow them to suffer unnecessary pain and distress. If an animal is suffering unnecessarily, the law allows for a veterinary surgeon to euthanize that animal in the best interests of its welfare.
Officials are careful to explain their actions when humane destruction or other action is proposed. Ultimately, however, the law must be enforced to control disease and/or prevent an animal from suffering. Where agreement cannot be reached through consultation, a court will usually be invited to approve enforcement action.
My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for the Environment (Hilary Benn), will shortly be holding a meeting to discuss how we take into account the views of religious communities while upholding the requirements of animal health and welfare legislation.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of trends in the numbers of badgers in the UK over the last 10 years; how many badger culls have taken place in this period; and what steps he is taking to protect badgers in Leicestershire. 
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.
Between November 2005 and December 2006 research was undertaken on behalf of DEFRA to provide a baseline index of population densities of badgers in selected regions of England. These indices will serve as a baseline against which any future changes in population densities can be assessed.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what response he has made to the EU Commission report on the tracing of Brazilian beef imports; and what assessment he has made of the traceability of such imports into the UK. 
Controls are in place to ensure that all meat imported from third countries must be accompanied by veterinary certification. This must confirm that the meat is derived from animals that have been subjected to a veterinary inspection during the 24 hours prior to slaughter and showed no signs of FMD. As a further precaution, EU import rules require that all meat imported from Brazil be deboned and matured, a process which produces an acid change which inactivates any FMD virus present.
All meat imported into the EU from third countries must enter at designated Border Inspection Posts where checks are carried out to ensure import conditions have been met. All consignments are subjected to identity and documentary checks and at least 20 per cent. of consignments undergo a physical check.
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