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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Subsidies

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of all single farm payments due had been made by 1 January 2008. [178707]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 29 January 2008]: As of 31 December 2007, 47 per cent. of all full single payment scheme payments have been made for the 2007 scheme year.

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Air Pollution: South East

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. [183638]

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.

Further information is available on the UK National Air Quality Archive website operated on behalf of DEFRA.

No. Authority Date of AQMA declaration


Adur district council

1 December 2005


Aylesbury Vale DC

4 July 2005


Brighton and Hove City

8 December 2004


Canterbury city council

2 May 2006


Chichester DC

24 August 2006 and 17 May 2007


Dartford borough council

1 October 2001 and 23 November 2006


Dover district council

20 June 2002, 15 October 2004, 12 November 2007 and 20 December 2007


Eastleigh borough council

16 February 2005 and 3 July2006


Elmbridge BC

17 June 2005


Epsom and Ewell BC

12 July 2007


Fareham borough council

1 April 2006 and 1 December 2007


Gravesham BC

1 January 2002 and 1 April 2005


Hastings borough council

8 December 2003


Lewes district council

30 June 2005


Maidstone BC

1 August 2001 and 1 January 2005


Medway council

14 January 2002


New Forest DC

6 June 2005 and 13 December 2005


Oxford city council

1 September 2001 and 13 May 2005


Portsmouth city council

11 April 2005


Reading BC

26 September 2006


Reigate and Banstead BC

23 December 2003, 15 July 2005, 24 May 2006 and 10 January 2007 and 5 November 2007


Runnymede BC

4 December 2001


Rushmoor BC

11 November 2004


Sevenoaks DC

1 March 2002, 30 September 2005 and 5 September 2006


Slough borough council

23 June 2005


Southampton city council

22 August 2005


South Bucks DC

1 October 2004


South Oxfordshire DC

1 January 2003 and 28 March 2006


Spelthorne BC

1 December 2000


Surrey Heath DC

1 April 2002


Thanet district council

23 March 2006


Tonbridge and Mailing BC

1 May 2001 and 1 June 2005


Tunbridge Wells BC

1 November 2005


Vale of White Horse DC

23 August 2006


Waverley BC

16 May 2005 and 23 August 2007


West Oxfordshire DC

1 March 2005


Winchester city council

14 November 2003


Windsor and Maidenhead RB

1 April 2005


Wokingham DC

28 September 2001 and 7 May 2004


Wycombe DC

1 August 2001

Alcoholic Drinks

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if he will make a statement on the future of cider brandy production; [182192]

(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; [182259]

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(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; [182260]

(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. [182261]

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.

Animal Welfare: Circuses

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. [183327]

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.

Animal Welfare: Genetic Engineering

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the European Food Standards Agency’s 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. [183635]

Jonathan Shaw: The Government welcome the European Food Safety Authority’s draft opinion as a useful contribution to the debate on cloning.

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The draft report recognises the complexity of the issue and that further studies are needed to monitor the health and welfare of cloned animals during their lifespan.

We agree with the opinion that there is no expectation nor information to suggest that cloned animals or their progeny pose any new or greater risks compared to conventionally bred animals.

Animal Welfare: Religion

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. [184457]

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 animals—they 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.

Animal health legislation also provides for certain actions to be taken for disease control purposes.

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. [178683]

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.

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Other than the Randomised Badger Culling Trial, which looked at the role badgers play in bovine TB in cattle, no culls have taken place since 1998.

Badgers and their setts, including those in Leicestershire, are protected under the provisions of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

Beef: Imports

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. [178720]

Jonathan Shaw: The UK supports the European Commission in taking action to address some long-running concerns about beef production in Brazil.

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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