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10 Mar 2008 : Column 34W—continued


Birds of Prey: Genetics

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what species were chosen for his Department’s research project on DNA profiling of birds of prey using fluorescent multiplexing initiated in 2004; what criteria were used to choose the species; what the costs to his Department were of the project; what the date of completion of the project was; and what the purpose of the project was. [191392]

Joan Ruddock: The purpose of the project was to develop fluorescent multiplexes for the golden eagle, goshawk, gyr falcon, merlin, peregrine falcon and saker falcon. The development and implementation of a fluorescent multiplex system would allow the construction of databases and allow comparisons between any sampled individuals avoiding the need to re-test them. The system should facilitate compliance checking and assist enforcement efforts.

The species were chosen to ensure that they were the most appropriate for the project, based on previous research into DNA forensic techniques involving birds of prey.

The cost to DEFRA of the project was £143,192. The work was completed in November 2006 and the final report will be published in an appropriate scientific journal shortly.

British Waterways: Finance

Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects on the canal system of the changes to British Waterways’ budget in 2007-08. [191189]


10 Mar 2008 : Column 35W

Jonathan Shaw: British Waterways’ budget has remained fixed for 2007-08 at £55.3 million and will be reinforced with a settlement of £56.624 million for 2008-09 plus £1.024 million towards the repayment of the capital of a national fund loan.

DEFRA is working with British Waterways to agree a sustainable and affordable strategy for the waterways in order to get the best public benefits from the resources available.

BSE: Disease Control

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he intends to continue to test brain tissue from cattle born before 1996 but which are slaughtered after the end of the Older Cattle Disposal Scheme. [191428]

Jonathan Shaw: Following the closure of the Older Cattle Disposal Scheme, cattle born before August 1996, which die or are killed, will need to be tested for BSE under current EU rules.

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the maximum time after death is by when samples from fallen stock should be taken. [R] [191557]

Jonathan Shaw: EU law does not define a “maximum time”. However, we set administrative deadlines for notification (in domestic Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) regulations) and collection (in the contract with the Rural Payments Agency) of fallen cattle to enable us to meet our obligations under EU TSE legislation.

These deadlines are based on advice from the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) on the rate of decomposition of bovine brain tissue. The VLA advice is influenced by various factors such as ambient temperature and the presence of disease.

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department takes to trace contacts, offspring or cohorts from cattle which test positive for BSE at slaughter either under the Older Cattle Disposal scheme or as fallen stock. [R] [191558]

Jonathan Shaw: Animal Health traces the cohorts and the offspring of cattle which test positive for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). This is done by using both an electronic database which is linked to the Cattle Tracing System, and manual inspections of farm records.

This applies to cohorts born after 31 July 1996 and to offspring born within two years prior to, or any time after, the clinical onset of BSE in the dam.

Common Fisheries Policy

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of the attribution of exclusive competence over marine biological resources to the EU on the exercise of responsibilities by national and regional authorities; and if he will make a statement. [192089]


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Jonathan Shaw: The text of the treaty of Lisbon reflects the extent of current powers under the common fisheries policy and we do not therefore envisage any changes to the various processes concerned. For this reason, we have not seen the need to discuss the provision further or reassess its significance.

Dangerous Dogs Act 1991

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people were prosecuted under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 in 2007. [192202]

Jonathan Shaw: The Ministry of Justice’s court proceedings data for 2007 will not be available until autumn 2008.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Government intends to review the operation of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. [192201]

Jonathan Shaw: The Government conducted a review of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 last year. We consulted police forces in England and Wales and discussed the outcome of this consultation with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). A summary of the responses by police forces is available in the Library of the House.

In the light of the response from the police service, we concluded that the current legislation is sufficiently robust to effectively deal with the problem of dangerous dogs.

We will work closely with the ACPO in helping to implement initiatives to ensure that the law is enforced more effectively.

Departmental Advertising

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department has spent on advertising in each year since 2001, broken down by type of media; and if he will make a statement. [188435]

Jonathan Shaw: The core departmental expenditure on advertising for the past five available financial years is as follows:

Media
Financial year Press Radio Internet Total

2002-03

2003-04

5,520

2004-05

105,345

28,271

133,616

2005-06

29,498

183,335

167,460

380,293

2006-07

60,204

508,524

568,728


This includes communications on a wide range of matters, much of it necessary or beneficial to the public and the wide range of industries in which DEFRA has an interest, together with local government, voluntary organisations and other bodies.


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Individual records of spend for DEFRA's non-departmental public bodies, agencies and financially sponsored organisations are not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Disciplinary Proceedings

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many of his Department’s civil servants were (a) suspended and (b) dismissed for accessing (i) obscene and (ii) other prohibited material on work computers in each of the last five years. [188786]

Jonathan Shaw: No officers have been suspended or dismissed for accessing obscene and other prohibited materials on work computers over this period.

Before being allowed access to the internet all users are required to read and agree to a Personal Commitment Statement which sets out the requirement to follow the Department’s security policies, including those which relate to the use of e-mail and the internet which are detailed on the staff intranet.

Departmental Manpower

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) staff and (b) full-time equivalent staff under 18 years of age are employed by his Department. [189081]

Jonathan Shaw: The civil service statistics are collected by ONS from the annual civil service employment survey (formerly Mandate) and the latest published statistics are for the year to 30 September 2006. The following table shows the number of staff under 18 years of age employed by the Department as at that date.

Headcount Full-time equivalent

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (excluding agencies)

0

0

Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science

Central Science Laboratory

0

0

Government Decontamination Services

0

0

Marine Fisheries Agency

0

0

Pesticides Safety Directorate

0

0

Rural Payments Agency

n/a

n/a

State Veterinary Service

0

0

Veterinary Laboratories Agency

Veterinary Medicines Directorate

0

0

n/a = Data not available
Note:
Numbers are rounded to the nearest 10 and numbers less than five are represented by “—”.

Departmental Official Hospitality

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was spent by his Department and its agencies on (a) alcohol and (b) entertaining in the last 12-month period for which information is available. [187782]


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Jonathan Shaw: From information held centrally the amounts spent on hospitality by the core-Department are:

£

2001-02

140,588

2002-03

344,822

2003-04

576,829

2004-05

381,138

2005-06

457,523

2006-07

405,482

2007-08 (April to December)

291,585


Direct year-on-year comparisons cannot be made because of machinery of Government changes that have occurred. The core-Department does not hold information centrally on hospitality expenditure by its executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies. The information could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The core-Department holds no information centrally on the expenditure category of alcohol.

Departmental Public Expenditure

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of his Department’s expenditure was allocated to Government growth areas in the last year for which figures are available. [190954]

Jonathan Shaw: Details of DEFRA’s expenditure in 2006-07 are set out in the 2007 departmental report. Information on the proportion of departmental funding which is directed at the growth areas is not available other than at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Sustainable Development

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the cost of implementing proposals to reduce the environmental impact of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs offices at Peaseholme Green, York. [188613]

Jonathan Shaw: The driver for the project at Peaseholme Green is primarily to increase occupancy capacity to enable the Department to achieve greater efficiencies in office utilisation which in itself will contribute to reducing the Department’s environmental impact. All government major refurbishments and new builds are required to achieve BREEAM Excellent accreditation.

DEFRA approach capital projects holistically, which includes sustainable construction, energy and water efficiency, achieving BREEAM Excellent while giving value for money to the Exchequer. This approach is supported by the reference to two of its major projects in the National Audit Office’s report dated April 2007 titled ‘Building for the future: Sustainable construction and refurbishment on the government estate’ where the NAO cite them as good examples.

The construction works at Kings Pool are being undertaken in an industry leading way, minimising waste output while maximising the recycling of any waste materials produced. A number of low and zero
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carbon technologies are also being introduced to the site including solar thermal hot water, rain water harvesting and ultra low NOx gas fired boilers. These technologies combined with a state of the art building management system have been designed to help the building user make the most efficient use of the new facilities, and reduce the environmental impact of the site.

Using its experience in refurbishing office buildings, achieving BREEAM Excellent, reducing energy and water consumption, selecting sustainable materials and adopting sustainable construction methods, DEFRA estimate that the extra-over cost of additional sustainable technologies incorporated into the works is around £485,000 inclusive of VAT, which equates to 2.9 per cent. of the capital construction costs, which were budgeted at £16.9 million inclusive of VAT.

For comparison, BRE supported documentation indicates that in a new build naturally ventilated building a BREEAM Excellent rating costs between 2.5 per cent. and 3.4 per cent. of the capital cost; to achieve this in a major refurbishment such as that being undertaken at Kings Pool, we would anticipate this figure being higher.


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