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15 May 2008 : Column 1743W—continued

We do not have full records of bids that were not funded in the last five years. With respect to the last two years, there was a bid for a three-year project to develop management strategies for small hive beetle which was not funded although a shorter project to develop a monitoring system for the small hive beetle is ongoing. There was also an outline proposal but no formal bid for a project to build upon previous DEFRA funded work to develop a biological control product for the varroa mite. This project is still being discussed; a decision has yet to be made about whether this work will be funded.

Bovine Tuberculosis

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent research he has commissioned into the relationship between tuberculosis in animals and human strains of the disease. [204955]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA has not commissioned any recent research into the relationship between bovine TB in animals and TB in humans. The risk of humans contracting Mycobacterium bovis ( M. bovis) infection from cattle in Great Britain is considered low due to
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robust human health controls (cattle surveillance and slaughter of infected animals; controls on milk and meat; occupational health controls; and Government Departments and agencies working together to monitor the situation). The majority of cases of tuberculosis in humans are caused by a different organism, Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

At present, less than 1 per cent. of all confirmed cases of TB in humans are due to infection with M. bovis. In these cases, the Health Protection Agency carries out epidemiological investigations into the source and route of transmission of the infection. Most M. bovis infections identified in Britain in the present day have been picked up abroad or prior to the introduction of widespread pasteurisation of milk.

DEFRA monitors all cases of M. bovis in humans to assess the implications for animal health controls.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what evidence he has considered on the relationship between the size of herds and the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in cattle. [204956]

Jonathan Shaw: We have considered a range of evidence relating to risk factors which may increase the likelihood of TB in cattle herds. An association between increased herd size and an increased risk of TB herd breakdown, and persistence of infection, has been reported by several recent studies in the scientific literature. However, the relationship is not straightforward. Testing more animals is likely to result in an increased probability of obtaining a positive test result in the herd, and herd size may be a proxy for other management-related risk factors such as herd turnover rates and stocking density, farm enterprise factors, and risks from foodstuffs.

Carbon Emissions: Retail Trade

Colin Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will discuss with representatives of the retail sector the effect on energy use of the practice of high street stores leaving their doors open to attract customers. [205823]

Mr. Woolas: The Carbon Trust, which receives funding from DEFRA, runs the UK’s main energy efficiency advice programme for business and the public sector, providing tailored advice to retailers about reducing their energy use including the implications of keeping shop doors open during cold weather. The Carbon Trust’s publication aimed at retailers: “Retail—Energy management—the new profit centre for retail businesses” (CTV001) contains a wide range of advice to help retailers cut their energy costs and includes a section entitled “Open door policy?” This addresses the issue of heat loss caused by open doors, recommending that retailers keep external doors open only at busy times or install automatic or revolving doors or a draught lobby.

The Carbon Trust is also working with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) to support its new Climate Change initiative ‘A Better Retailing Climate’ which details the BRC’s commitment to lowering emissions
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across the retail sector through a suite of initiatives, including reducing emissions from buildings by 15 per cent. by 2013.

Departmental Contracts

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what security checks are carried out on civilian contractors working in his Department’s establishments. [205391]

Jonathan Shaw: All contractors who need unescorted access to DEFRA buildings, access to computer systems, information and other assets are subject to checks in accordance with the Cabinet Office Baseline Personnel Security Standard. Contractors complete a form and give proof of their identity. When identity documents have been checked and a legal right to work in this country has been established then random criminal records checks are made. Some contractors are subject to Counter Terrorism Checks and higher levels of security clearance.

Departmental Translation Services

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was spent by his Department on translation and interpretation services in 2007-08, broken down by language. [205184]

Jonathan Shaw: The translation section of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs commissioned freelance translations to the value of £31,957.59 on behalf of DEFRA and its executive agencies in the financial year 2007-08. The language breakdown was as follows (includes translation both from and into the foreign language):

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Language Cost (£)



































































Interpretations are commissioned on an ad hoc basis by individual DEFRA business units out of delegated budgets. Information on interpretations is not held centrally and could be compiled only at disproportionate cost.

Dogs: Electric Shock Equipment

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent research he has commissioned on the (a) effectiveness, (b) efficacy and (c) ethics of using electric shock collars on dogs. [204957]

Jonathan Shaw: We have recently commissioned a research project to assess the effect of electronic training aids on the welfare of dogs. The research is due to be completed in 2010.

We have also asked the Companion Animal Welfare Council, an advisory body on companion animal welfare matters, to undertake an independent study of available evidence on the use of these electronic training aids to complement our funded study.

Environment Agency: Finance

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Environment Agency’s net receipts from contingency fees were in each of the last three years. [205465]

Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency does not have contingency fees.


Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what records his Department holds on the average cost of farmland in different parts of England. [204511]

Jonathan Shaw: Agricultural land sales transactions data for Government Office Regions (GOR) in England supplied by the Valuations Office Agency (VOA) is available to the end of 2004. For this dataset some county level information is available though this is dependent on the number of transactions in a given period. Subsequent to 2004, trends in land sales across GORs have been monitored through the VOA property market reports and RICS rural land market survey. Additionally, the Farm Business Survey (commissioned by DEFRA on an annual basis) records the value of land on farms in England as part of its measurement of farm assets.

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Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether (a) UK and (b) other EU member states’ fishing vessels are permitted to engage in pair-trawling in the six to 12 mile band of UK waters; and if he will make a statement; [204824]

(2) what assessment he has made of the effects of pair-trawling in UK waters on (a) bass and (b) dolphins; and what steps he plans to take to reduce adverse effects. [204825]

Jonathan Shaw: In 2004 we banned pelagic pair trawling for bass by UK vessels within 12 miles of the south west coast of England (within ICES area VIIe) as this fishery was shown to have relatively high levels of cetacean by-catch. Other bass fisheries, such as gillnetting and hand lining, and pair trawl fisheries targeting other species have not been affected.

The UK asked that the ban on pelagic pair trawling for bass be extended to the vessels of other member states, who are currently permitted to fish between six and 12 miles off the south west English coast (under Article 9 of Council Regulation EC No. 2371/2002), but this was turned down by the European Commission. We could therefore only take unilateral action for our own vessels out to 12 miles.

There is ongoing research funded by the Department and carried out by the Sea Mammal Research Unit to monitor by-catch in all relevant UK fishery sectors, including the bass pair trawl fishery, and to research by-catch mitigation measures in order to identify measures that are effective at deterring cetaceans over the long-term and that are safe and cost-effective for the industry. Further analysis of the effectiveness of the 12 mile ban of sea bass pair trawling will be undertaken as further data becomes available.

The scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) in 2004, based on analytical assessments of UK inshore bass stocks, suggest that the bass stock is fished sustainably. Updated assessments have been carried out by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), in 2006 and 2008. These confirm the earlier assessment indicating that current levels of both bass landings and biomass are high.

The 2007 UK report to the European Commission on observed cetacean by-catch levels in certain fisheries, as required by Council Regulation (EC) 812/2004, includes estimates of common dolphin and harbour porpoise by-catch in the south-west for 2005 and 2006 in gillnet, tangle net and bass mid-water pair trawls. The UK is not due to report to the European Commission on 2006-07 observed by-catch levels until June. It is for each member state to monitor by-catch on their own vessels and submit their findings to the European Commission.

Fisheries: Fuels

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to assist UK fishermen to meet rising fuel costs; what other measures to assist fishermen with fuel costs would be permissible under EU rules; and what
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benchmarking his Department has undertaken of UK assistance on fuel prices to fishermen against measures taken by other EU member states. [204779]

Jonathan Shaw: The emphasis of any assistance to the fishing industry should be on building a sustainable future. I am, therefore, considering what steps can be taken to help the industry adapt to the changing environment including, increased fuel costs, and am meeting with industry representatives to discuss this. Among the considerations will be the relative competitiveness of the fleet compared to other member states.

Some of these steps can be funded under the European Fisheries Fund; other aid can be granted up to the de minimis limit for state aid set out in Commission Regulation 875/2007.

Floods: EU Grants and Loans

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether state aid rules apply to monies dispensed from the European Solidarity Fund to address problems faced by farmers as a result of recent severe flooding. [205891]

Mr. Woolas: Monies received from The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) are not subject to European Agricultural State Aid rules. EUSF funds are specifically to help member states meet the uninsurable costs to public bodies of dealing with natural disasters and are not for use in any sector-specific support measures that may threaten to distort the market and would therefore require state aid clearance.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will commission research on the effects of activities thought to contribute to anthropomorphic climate change, including overgrazing and deforestation, on trends in the levels of global food prices; and if he will make a statement. [204684]

Jonathan Shaw: The Department recognises the effects of climate change, and activities thought to contribute to climate change, across the range of its portfolio and research is ongoing in these areas.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will commission research on the effects of G8 agricultural subsidies on trends in global food prices; and if he will make a statement. [204685]

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