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12 May 2008 : Column 1323W—continued

Animals: MRSA

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he has taken to reduce the incidence of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus in animals. [203489]

Jonathan Shaw: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has not been detected in farmed livestock in the UK and there is no current evidence that food-producing animals form a reservoir of infection in the UK. The organism has been isolated from dairy cows, pigs and chickens outside the UK, as well as in companion animals (including cats, dogs and horses) both in the UK and elsewhere. Ongoing monitoring of the international picture is being maintained. A 12-month long study to provide an initial overview of the presence of MRSA in breeding pig herds across Europe began in January 2008. This is being carried out under Community legislation. It is anticipated that the results of this study will be published in mid 2009 and that they will inform the direction of future work by DEFRA.

DEFRA's Antimicrobial Resistance Co-ordination (DARC) Group continues to provide guidance on policy relating to antimicrobial resistance. The membership of the DARC Group reflects a partnership approach and includes representatives from many organisations involved in both human and animal health throughout the UK. DARC created a MRSA sub-group in 2005, through which DEFRA is assisting and encouraging various initiatives relating to MRSA from the Bella Moss Foundation (a UK registered charity promoting awareness of MRSA in animals), industry and the veterinary profession. DEFRA has funded research to better understand the epidemiology of MRSA in companion animals and livestock and any role it may play in human infections.

In addition to chairing the DARC Group, DEFRA's Veterinary Medicines Directorate have used various means including legislation, publication of guidance and liaison with interested parties, such as the RUMA (Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture) alliance, to achieve a co-ordinated and integrated approach to raise awareness of the issues surrounding antimicrobial resistance in animals and promote the responsible use of antimicrobials.

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Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the contribution of beekeeping to the agriculture sector; and if he will make a statement. [204201]

Jonathan Shaw: Through their important role in pollinating flowering plants, honey bees make a vital contribution to sustainable agriculture. Reflecting this, DEFRA continues to fund a programme of controls and education for beekeepers via the National Bee Unit and the Bee Inspectorate.

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the contribution of research to the formulation of policy on beekeeping. [204202]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA’s Bee Health Programme underpins bee health policy and covers work on exotic and statutory pests and diseases of bees. Research is carried out to fill gaps in the knowledge base used to support policy and to allow evidence-based policy decision making. The research should deliver results which can be used by Government and the craft of bee keeping in combating pests and diseases.


Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of recent trends in the bee population; and if he will make a statement. [204199]

Jonathan Shaw: It is too early to assess disease incidence this season although there are indications of some significant colony losses across the country. These are under investigation.

Bees: Disease Control

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research the Government is funding on (a) acaricide-resistant varroa destructor and its associated viral diseases, (b) European foulbrood, (c) bee viruses and (d) nosema. [204196]

Jonathan Shaw: In 2008-09, the research programme will continue to focus on the development of a monitoring and surveillance system for the Small Hive Beetle ( Aethina tumida (Murray)) and assessing the effectiveness of the ‘shook swarm’ technique for the control of European Foul Brood (EFB). A three-year PhD studentship studying bee viruses, including those that are not transmitted by Varroa, which is based at the University of Surrey, will continue to build on recent progress.

Last year, the National Bee Unit analysed samples for the two Nosema species known to infect bees, Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae. Both species are present in England and Wales, although exact details of the spread and prevalence of these species are currently unknown.

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No research is currently being carried out on Varroa destructor. However, this has been identified as a potential future research priority in the draft Bee Health strategy, which has recently been published for public consultation.

Bovine Tuberculosis: Compensation

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons dairy non-pedigree calved females are valued more highly than pedigree calved females over 36 months in tabular valuations related to bovine tuberculosis. [203466]

Jonathan Shaw: To support table valuations, sales data are collected from a large number and wide range of sources across Great Britain. We capture around 98 per cent. of the sales data for cattle sold at public auction, and, in our view, the table valuations reflect the market situation for same category cattle. Table values are only applied for any category in any month if adequate amounts of data have been obtained. Otherwise individual valuation is used to establish market value.

The non-pedigree table value has been higher than the pedigree value for the dairy calved female category on three occasions (between January and March 2008) since monthly table valuations for cattle compensation were introduced in February 2006. This reflected the underlying sales data that we received. I would stress that the approach we take is completely objective; sales data are not manipulated in any way.

Non-pedigree table values are based on one month's data, whereas for pedigree categories we use six months' data to cover seasonal variability in pedigree trade and to obtain adequate amounts of sales data.

Carbon Emissions

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the level of reductions necessary for each household from 2002 to 2050 assuming the current breakdown of carbon dioxide emissions between the different component elements for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by (a) 60 per cent. and (b) 80 per cent. to be achieved by 2050. [202488]

Mr. Woolas: Under the Climate Change Bill, the Committee on Climate Change must provide its first advice to the Secretary of State before 1 December 2008. That advice must include recommendations on the levels of the first three budgets as well as on the level of the 2050 target. It must also refer to the sectors of the economy in which there are particular opportunities for contributions to be made towards meeting the carbon budget.

The Government will consider the Committee's advice before announcing the first three budgets alongside fiscal Budget 2009. It is required to lay before Parliament a report on proposals and policies for meeting those budgets, including how they affect different sectors of the economy.

The Government's existing package of measures in the household sector, as set out in the 2007 Energy
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White Paper, is designed to reduce UK household emissions to less than 30 million tonnes of carbon (MtC) from today's level of 40 MtC.

Cetaceans: Conservation

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the extent to which the UK has met its obligations under the EU by-catch regulation (EC) No. 812/2004; and what impact this has had on cetacean populations in UK waters. [203996]

Jonathan Shaw: The UK has reported on its implementation of EC 812/2004 in June 2006 and June 2007. As can be seen from these reports, we have fully met our obligation to monitor cetacean by-catch. This work is being carried out by the Sea Mammal Research Unit, and the annual reports of this research are published on the Departments website. However, technical problems with current designs have precluded full deployment of acoustic deterrent devices. No assessment has been made of the impact of these actions on cetacean populations in UK waters.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many UK vessels are using acoustic deterrent devices to reduce cetacean by-catch . [203997]

Jonathan Shaw: Acoustic deterrent devices, “pingers”, are required to be used in certain fisheries under Council Regulation (EC) 812/2004. Prior to enforcing the use of pingers, the UK Government wants to be sure that the pingers we recommend to be used are safe and cost-effective for the industry and offer maximum protection to porpoises. The European Commission has recognised that because of deployment problems, some member states are not able to implement pingers as required by the Council Regulation, and have recommended that member states should continue with trials to develop a working pinger. The Sea Mammal Research Unit are currently looking at the effects that a ‘super-pinger’ has on the population distribution of porpoises. These ‘super-pingers’ are larger and therefore fewer devices are required, reducing deployment problems. We will consider the results of this research when it becomes available. We are therefore not aware of how many UK vessels are currently using acoustic deterrent devices to reduce by-catch of cetaceans.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent research on cetacean by-catch in UK waters his Department has commissioned. [204000]

Jonathan Shaw: The Department has implemented a comprehensive system of by-catch monitoring under the requirements of the EC Habitats Directive and Council Regulation 812/2004. The Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) produces annual reports of this research for DEFRA, and these are published on the Department’s website.

Since 2000, the UK has put over £2 million into researching by-catch mitigation measures and monitoring by-catch on vessels through observers. This is to try to identify those fisheries responsible for high levels of cetacean by-catch and mitigation measures that are
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effective at deterring cetaceans over the long-term and are safe and cost-effective for the industry. We are due to receive the final report project on By-catch Mitigation Research from SMRU at the end of May. A new research contract on this issue has recently been agreed with SMRU.

In 2003, the UK was the first member state to publish a cetacean by-catch response strategy for small cetaceans.

Cetaceans: South West

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will publish the most recent available data on cetacean strandings in Cornwall and Devon. [203995]

Jonathan Shaw: All data on Cetacean strandings across the UK, up to and including the 2006 data, are publicly available on the Defra website in the form of UK Cetacean strandings investigation programme (CSIP) Annual reports:

The 2007 Annual report is currently being drafted and will be available on the website in the near future.

Departmental Carbon Emissions

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department and its predecessors spent on carbon offsetting in each of the last three years; and to which companies payments for carbon offsetting have been made in each such year. [204105]

Mr. Woolas: Figures currently available cover 2005-06 (where applicable) and 2006-07. Data are currently being collected for the 2007-08 reporting year and will be available later in the year.

DEFRA has paid £60,014.07 into the GCOF, to offset some 6,056tCO2 equivalent from a variety of sources from April 2005 to April 2007.

Departmental Public Participation

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) surveys, (b) questionnaires and (c) other services were provided by polling companies for his Department in financial year 2007-08, broken down by company. [200005]

Jonathan Shaw: This information is not held centrally, and so the following information is what could be gathered without disproportionate cost. It lists the surveys, questionnaires and other services conducted by third parties which received funding from Defra and which sought opinion, and which were provided in completed and agreed form during the financial year 2007-08.

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Company which conducted it Title of report


Natural Environment Message Testing Research

British Market Research Bureau

ACT ON CO2 climate change campaign, post tracking

British Market Research Bureau

Chewing Gum Action Group Campaign evaluation

British Market Research Bureau

Public awareness of personal food imports

British Market Research Bureau

Public Attitudes Towards Farmers

TNS Omnibus

Omnibus research into Awareness of Endangered Species Trade

British Market Research Bureau

Survey of public attitudes and behaviour in relation to the environment

Brook Lyndhurst

Public Understanding of Sustainable Energy Use in the Home

Centre for Sustainable Energy

Distributional Impacts of Personal Carbon Trading

CML Market Research

Food Campaign—Message Research

Cognition Market Intelligence

VMD Customer Feedback Survey

Continental Research

Business Attitudes to Resource Efficiency

Creative Research

Rabies Restrictions Review Consumer Workshops


Natural Environment Communications Desk Research

Entec UK Ltd.

Understanding the barriers to flood resilience


Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restrictions of Chemicals (REACH) Awareness Raising Campaign tracking research


Climate Change Tracking Wave 6. Omnibus survey covering public knowledge and attitudes to climate change


Climate Change Tracking Wave 5. Omnibus survey covering public knowledge and attitudes to climate change

IFF Research

Illegal Foods Campaign Tracking 2006-07

Ipsos MORI

Public Understanding of Sustainable Finance and Investment

Ipsos MORI

Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative (PSFPI) Research

Ipsos MORI

Attitudes to use of organic waste on agricultural land

Jigsaw Research

Defra: Engaging The Business Community in Environmental Issues

Kate Willis

Fallen Stock Sheep Farmers Research

Marketing Synergie International

Illegal Food Imports Creative Development.

MVA consultancy, commissioned by Consumer Council for Water on behalf of the Water Saving Group

Campaigns to make a difference: Research into identifying water saving messages


Waste Infrastructure Research.

Opinion Leader and Enviros Consulting

Personal Carbon Trading: Public Acceptability

Opinion Leader Research

Public Understanding of Sustainable Consumption of Food

Opinion Leader Research

Citizen summit on climate change

Research Works

Personal food imports Filler testing

Scott Wilson

Public Understanding of Sustainable Transport

Social Research and Consultancy

Consumer attitudes to water efficiency of bathroom fittings: analysis of quantitative research

University of Exeter

Contemporary livestock farming and watercourse pollution: a citizen's jury approach

University of Gloucestershire, CCRI and MLURI

Understanding and influencing positive behaviour change in farmers and rural land managers

University of Reading

Survey into farmers attitudes toward a TB cattle vaccine

University of Surrey

Public Understanding of Sustainable Leisure and Tourism

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