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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Single Farm Payment

David Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many single farm payments have been made relating to (a) 2007-08, (b) 2006-07 and (c) 2005-06; and how many payments of what total value are outstanding for each of those years. [204252]

Jonathan Shaw: For the 2005 single payment scheme (SPS) year, 117,109 customers have been paid £1.53 billion. Payments worth £58,644 are still outstanding for 8 customers.

For the 2006 SPS year, 106,819 customers have been paid £1.514 billion. Payments worth £205,947 are outstanding for 42 customers.

Outstanding 2005 and 2006 payments are complex cases involving legal and probate issues.

As at 6 May 2008 97,809 customers out of the total estimated total claimant population of 106,700 have so far received full SPS payment for the 2007 SPS year. These payments are worth £1.255 billion, compared with the estimated total SPS fund value of £1.45 billion.

RPA is working to finalise remaining payments as soon as possible.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to increase and improve the provision for modulations under the single farm payment. [206295]

Jonathan Shaw: Currently there are no plans to change the rates of voluntary modulation which apply in England from those that were announced on 29 March 2007.

Changes to all the modulation provisions for the single farm payment are governed by European legislation. We expect modulation to feature as part of the European Commission's forthcoming Health Check of the Common Agricultural Policy, the formal proposals for which are due to be published on 20 May.

Angling: Environment Protection

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect on recreational fishing of the introduction of new licences under the draft Marine Bill. [207266]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 22 May 2008]: Amendments within the draft Marine Bill relating to recreational fishing in freshwater will give the Environment Agency the flexibility to introduce
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licences which distinguish between different types of waters in order that it might draw a distinction, for instance, between the best salmon rivers and those which are less good. As such a distinction is not necessary at present, the Environment Agency has no intention of using this power immediately, and therefore there will be no effect on anglers in the short to middle term.

With regards to the licensing of sea angling, I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, West (Martin Salter) on 18 March 2008, Official Report, column 944W.

Angling: Licensing

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 29th April 2008, Official Report, columns 280-1W, on angling: licensing, what the reason for the significant rise in the concessionary duty rates for rod licences is. [204210]

Jonathan Shaw: The Environment Agency is under no legal obligation to offer any concessions at all, and has publicly stated that it will use a significant proportion of the monies raised by the higher duty rates to continue to improve access to angling for the disabled and senior anglers.

The Environment Agency carried out its own research into these concessions in relation to those offered by other organisations. The research revealed that the typical concession offered by others is 0 to 10 per cent. and that the revised level of 33 per cent. is still generous in comparison. The concessionary rate will be reviewed again in 2010 along with the other rod and net licence duties.

The Environment Agency faces challenges to implement the EU recovery plan for stocks of European eel in England and Wales, to take forward work on conservation of stocks of Atlantic salmon and sea-trout, and to comply with measures to implement EU rules on the control of fish diseases. Anglers have asked the Environment Agency to increase its focus on enforcing illegal fishing, and the Agency also has a corporate target to increase participation in angling by 2 per cent. a year.

Unless its income is increased to cover inflationary pressures, the Environment Agency would have to cut its services to anglers. For it to maintain its targets the Environment Agency must fully assess all its income sources, and adjust them where necessary to reflect its statutory obligations.

Animal Welfare: Public Bodies

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will set up a new Animal Health and Welfare Agency to work alongside a National Centre for Animal Viral Disease. [205750]

Jonathan Shaw: Animal Health is the Government's executive agency, which already exists to deliver animal health and welfare policies across Great Britain. The Government have recently consulted on the next steps for responsibility and cost sharing for animal health
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and welfare, including options for new institutional structures for responsibility sharing. The Government will be announcing their policy in due course. Animal health and welfare policy is a devolved matter and we are reviewing lessons learned from last year's foot and mouth outbreak about how we, together with the devolved Administrations, need to manage cross-border interests. As previously announced, the Government will be responding to Iain Anderson's review later in the year (including his suggestion for a National Centre for Animal Viral Diseases).

Bluetongue Disease

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he estimates Herefordshire will become part of the bluetongue protection zone; and when Herefordshire farmers will receive the bluetongue vaccine. [206317]

Jonathan Shaw: In accordance with the strategy for rolling out vaccination across England, which has been developed with a core group of industry stakeholders, the protection zone will be expanded at regular intervals over the summer, enabling vaccination to take place on a progressive basis. The strategy, which splits England into priority areas, is designed to be flexible, taking into account the delivery of vaccine, take-up in the existing protection zone, epidemiological information and the location of new disease, when it recurs.

Under the order with Intervet, vaccine will arrive in regular deliveries until the end of August. Intervet is currently ahead of schedule. We cannot specify at this stage when vaccination will be rolled out into Herefordshire. However, we are issuing regular information bulletins to enable the industry to plan as far ahead as is possible.

The strategy, map of priority areas and information bulletins are available on the DEFRA website at:

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will ensure that the bluetongue vaccine is administered in all parts of the country by 15 July 2008. [206047]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 16 May 2008]: The UK was the first EU member state to order vaccine for BTV-8, and received its first batches from Intervet on 30 April, ahead of schedule, for use in the protection zone. We aim to get vaccine to as wide an area as possible, as it becomes available from the manufacturer, in order to help reduce the impact of the disease on industry and to free up movements of livestock. Under the order with Intervet, vaccine is being delivered on a regular basis until the end of August. The strategy for roll-out of vaccination has been developed in partnership with a core group of industry stakeholders.

On 7 May, DEFRA announced, on the understanding that the industry would achieve mass vaccination against bluetongue, that it is tendering for further vaccine supplies for use over the summer.


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Carbon Emissions

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with international counterparts on securing agreement on a level of current carbon dioxide emissions to be used as a baseline for targets on emission reductions in the future. [207139]

Mr. Woolas: This issue is on the agenda for the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Co-operative Action (AWG LCA) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It will be discussed at a workshop on a ‘shared vision, including a long term goal’ at the 14(th) Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC (COP14) to be held in Poznan in December of this year.

In addition ministerial colleagues and I have taken part in several other discussions on a long term goal (i.e. a level of current greenhouse gas emissions to be used as a baseline for targets on emission reductions in the future), through international fora and bilateral discussions..

In particular, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has just returned from the G8 Environment Ministers’ meeting in Japan, where Ministers underlined the need to reach agreement on a shared vision of a long-term goal at this year’s G8 Summit, building on the commitment made last year to seriously consider reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by 2050.

Departmental Domestic Visits

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on how many occasions he has visited (a) Scotland, (b) Wales and (c) Northern Ireland in an official capacity in the last 12 months. [204397]

Jonathan Shaw: Ministers in this Department have visited Scotland on four occasions, Wales on three occasions and Northern Ireland on one occasion in the last 12 months.

All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the ‘Ministerial Code’.

Departmental ICT

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 6th March 2008, Official Report, column 2716W, on departmental ICT, how many of the missing or stolen (a) laptops, (b) mobile telephones and (c) personal digital assistants have been replaced by his Department; and at what cost. [202437]

Jonathan Shaw: Following the outsourcing of IT services to IBM in October 2004, computers/laptops are no longer classed as departmental assets as they form part of the overall contract for the provision of IT services. All IT equipment therefore belongs to IBM and DEFRA is not charged for replacement equipment. DEFRA does not keep a record of laptops replaced following loss or theft.


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DEFRA does not centrally record the individual replacement of lost or stolen mobile telephones or PDAs. Individual business units are required to maintain records of equipment held and run delegated budgets for the purchase of communication equipment. To gather the requested information from individual business units across Defra would incur a disproportionate cost.

Departmental Orders and Regulations

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many statutory instruments have been (a) made and (b) revoked by Ministers in his Department and its predecessor since 1997. [204768]

Jonathan Shaw: On 28 April, the Department placed in the Libraries of the House copies of a report on: DEFRA's statutory instruments between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2007. The report is the outcome of a review of SIs over that period, and incorporates data on SIs introduced by DEFRA's predecessor (i.e. MAFF). The report shows that the Department implemented 1,036 SIs between 2000 and 2007, and revoked 840 SIs dating back to 2000 and earlier. Comparable data are not available pre-2000.

Departmental Standards

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what projects sponsored by his Department were subject to Gateway reviews in each of the last four years; what status each project was assigned under such reviews; how much his Department spent on Gateway reviews in each such year; and if he will make a statement. [205868]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 15 May 2008]: DEFRA have had 71 high and medium risk and 18 low risk reviews in the period 1 May 2004 to 1 May 2008. Gateway reports, including the findings and status, are conducted on a confidential basis for senior responsible owners (SROs). We do not, therefore, make this information routinely public.

A key principle of Gateway reviews is that they are cost neutral. However, where there is a shortfall in civil service Gateway reviewers, suitably accredited external resources may be provided by the Office of Government Commerce at a charge. While the Department is unable to identify the individual costs for each review undertaken, as this information is not specifically recorded, DEFRA is currently in credit with OGC for its review days by a factor of £8,600 for the 2007-08 period.

Disease Control

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress is being made on cost-sharing for bio-security measures; and if he will make a statement. [206293]

Jonathan Shaw: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to him on 7 May 2008, Official Report, column 895W.


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Dogs

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many successful prosecutions were brought for breeding fighting dogs in (a) 2006 and (b) 2007. [206083]

Jonathan Shaw: Information from the Ministry of Justice shows that there was one successful prosecution for breeding fighting dogs in England and Wales 2006, information for 2007 will be available in the autumn of 2008.

The figure provided relates to a person for whom the offence was the principal offence for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences, the offence selected is the one for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will review the operation and effectiveness of the legislation on dangerous dogs. [206084]

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.

Farms

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will commission research into the use of commercial farms as a means of promoting well-being of people with disabilities or social needs. [205883]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA has no plans to commission research into care farming at the current time. My ministerial colleague Lord Rooker visited the care farm Highfields Happy Hens on 22 May.

Farms: Local Authorities

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many tenanted or managed farms are owned by each of the local authorities. [207083]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 22 May 2008]: Local authorities in England have reported that they held 3,138 smallholdings as at 31 March 2007 (the most recent date for which figures are available). The number
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of smallholdings held by individual authorities is given in the following table. We do not hold information for Wales.

Number of smallholdings by county/unitary authority in England as at 31 March 2007
County/unitary authority Total

Bedfordshire

138

Berkshire West

3

Bournemouth

7

Brighton and Hove

51

Buckinghamshire

66

Cambridgeshire

344

Cheshire

137

City of York

4

Cornwall

112

Cumbria

14

Devon

91

Dorset

66

Durham

15

East Riding of Yorkshire

136

East Sussex

2

Essex

11

Gloucestershire

136

Hampshire

66

Hartlepool

2

Herefordshire

61

Hertfordshire

62

Lancashire

2

Leicestershire

82

Lincolnshire

280

Medway

3

Milton Keynes

12

Norfolk

240

Northamptonshire

15

North Lincolnshire

18

North Somerset

11

Northumberland

7

North Yorkshire

78

Nottinghamshire

19

Oxfordshire

41

Peterborough

28

Shropshire

43

Slough

1

Somerset

89

South Gloucestershire

18

Staffordshire

135

Suffolk

102

Surrey

60

Swindon

19

Thurrock

11

Torbay

2

Warrington

5

Warwickshire

75

West Sussex

21

Wiltshire

71

Worcestershire

126

Total

3,138


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