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11 Jun 2008 : Column 267W—continued

Animal Welfare: EC Action

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to incorporate the British Animal Health and Welfare Strategy into the forthcoming EU model. [208906]

Jonathan Shaw: The EU Animal Health Strategy and the British Animal Health and Welfare Strategy are complementary strategies and there are no plans for incorporation.

Animals: Diseases

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been allocated to research into endemic animal diseases for 2008-09; and how much was spent on such research in each of the last five years, broken down by disease. [208914]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA maintain a wide-ranging research programme of livestock endemic diseases. The following table gives details of how much has been spent (in £ million) on this programme since 2003:

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£ million
Bovine TB Endemic zoonoses( 1) Endemic diseases (not zoonoses)( 2) Total budget endemic disease programmes































(1) Endemic zoonoses include Salmonella, Campylobacter, E coli 0157 and Cryptosporidium.
(2) The endemic diseases (not zoonoses) programme includes projects on Bovine Virus Diarrhoea (BVD), Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), mastitis, coccidiosis, sheep gastro-intestinal nematodes, sheep scab, Avian Infectious Bronchitis, Marek's Disease, avian leucosis virus and antimicrobial resistance.
(3) Estimated spend for 2008/09.

Bluetongue Disease: Disease Control

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the financial impact on livestock markets in (a) Devon and (b) England of bluetongue movement restrictions. [209456]

Jonathan Shaw: The UK bluetongue control strategy is regularly reviewed with a core group of industry stakeholders, taking into account the latest disease and epidemiological situation, the control measures in place and the effect these measures have on the farming industry as a whole.

To date livestock markets in Devon have not specifically been analysed; however, the effect of the bluetongue restriction zones on the movement of animals in England (which includes movements through markets) has been considered in a cost-benefit analysis, which can be found on the DEFRA website.

Through the core group, DEFRA has regular access to specific expertise on the impact of bluetongue control measures on markets across the country.

Bluetongue Disease: Vaccination

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when bluetongue vaccine will be available to farmers in Devon. [209482]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 9 June 2008]: In line with the UK bluetongue vaccination strategy, the bluetongue protection zone was extended into Devon on 23 May. This means that farmers in Devon are currently permitted to order the vaccine from their private veterinarians.

Bovine Tuberculosis

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of cows receiving positive (a) gamma interferon blood tests and (b) skin tests for bovine tuberculosis were subsequently demonstrated to be clear of the disease at post mortem in each of the last five years. [208239]

Jonathan Shaw: It is a misconception that failure to find post-mortem evidence of bovine TB in animals that have previously had a positive reaction to a TB test means such animals are clear of the disease. It is
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frequently not possible to see typical signs of disease with the naked eye, or to culture the bacterium from tissue samples. Diagnostic tests are more effective at identifying infected cattle than post-mortem analyses. The primary purpose of post-mortem analyses is to support epidemiological investigations and the management of TB outbreaks, not to validate ante-mortem tests.

An important point to note is that the TB testing programme aims to identify and confirm bovine TB on a herd rather than an individual animal basis. Meaningful confirmation rates for gamma interferon reactors, in particular, cannot be provided, as a significant proportion of gamma interferon positive animals are not subject to laboratory culture, as infection has already been identified in the herd.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost is of an individual (a) gamma interferon blood test and (b) skin test for bovine tuberculosis. [208240]

Jonathan Shaw: It is not possible to provide a precise figure for the unit costs of the gamma interferon blood test or the skin test for bovine tuberculosis as these will vary significantly depending on a range of factors: for example, economies of scale are achieved when either test is used in larger groups of cattle.

However, it is the case that the gamma interferon test is significantly more expensive than the skin test. For illustrative purposes, the costs of skin testing 60 cattle would be in the region of £250 whereas applying the gamma interferon test to the same number would cost around £1,280.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cows were slaughtered after testing positive for bovine tuberculosis in a gamma interferon blood test in each of the last five years. [208241]

Jonathan Shaw: The number of cattle blood sampled, which have tested positive to the gamma interferon test in each of the last six years (for example, since its use was introduced in the field in Britain), can be found in the following table.

Number of reactors to the gamma interferon test (Britain)













Gamma reactors identified between 2002 and 23 October 2006 were as a result of a pilot trial, which took place between 2002 and 2005, and ad-hoc use, which continued into 2006 (hence low rates identified in 2006). On 23 October 2006 a new policy of enhanced gamma usage was introduced across Britain. The test is used as a supplement to the skin test and is mandatory in certain scenarios where it can have the biggest impact in reducing disease.

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Departmental Public Participation

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consultants have been contracted by his Department to conduct public participation activities in the last three years; and how much expenditure his Department has incurred on each such contract to date. [206214]

Jonathan Shaw: The core-Department's financial systems do not record a category of expenditure defined as public participation activities. This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The Department does set out in its annual departmental report details of the total expenditure on consultancy and professional services. This can be found on the DEFRA website.

Dogs: Animal Welfare

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will bring forward legislative proposals to (a) include all breeds of dog within the provisions of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 so as to prohibit ownership by unfit persons in place of a general prohibition of ownership of particular breeds of dog and (b) prohibit dog rental schemes under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. [209626]

Jonathan Shaw: The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 already applies to all breeds and types of dog. Section 3 of the Act makes it an offence for an owner or keeper of a dog of any type or breed to allow the dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place, or in a private place where it has no right to be. The courts also already have powers—both under dangerous dogs legislation and the Animal Welfare Act 2006—to disqualify an owner or keeper of a dog from having custody of a dog for any period.

On dog rental schemes, we are not aware that there are a significant number of these schemes in operation. However, we will keep this matter under observation and should there be an upsurge in dog rental schemes we can consider using powers under the Animal Welfare Act to regulate or prohibit such activities.

Dogs: Genetics

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of proposals to use DNA profiling to identify the breeds of dogs being held in kennels under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, as amended; and if he will make a statement on the accuracy of current methods used to identify kennelled dogs. [209158]

Jonathan Shaw: Officials have held discussions with the manufacturers of the DNA tests for dogs. The advice that we received are that the tests would be of limited value and unlikely to provide the evidence required by the court.

On the current methods of identifying prohibited types of dog, DEFRA last year conducted a consultation with police forces in England and Wales on the effectiveness of the legislation. While it was clear from the consultation that Parliament was correct to prohibit pitbull type dogs, it was also evident that some forces did have
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difficulties in recognising prohibited types of dog. Therefore, to assist the police and local authorities we are giving priority to revising the guidance that DEFRA has issued on recognising prohibited types of dog. The guidance will also help explain the law on dangerous dogs.

Ducks: Animal Welfare

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 20 May 2008, Official Report, column 172W, on ducks: animal welfare, if he will place in the Library a copy of the research project A Study to Assess the Welfare of Ducks Housed in Systems Currently Used in the UK when it is published; and if he will take steps to give formal notice to hon. and right hon. Members of its publication and of his decision thereon. [208890]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 9 June 2008]: I will write to the right hon. Member enclosing a copy of the final report of this research project as soon as it is available.

As is the practice with all DEFRA-funded research projects, the final report will also be published on the DEFRA website.

Environment Agency: Finance

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the likely effect of the Environment Agency's charging increases for craft registrations on craft numbers over the three years of the proposed charging plan; and by how much registration income is expected to rise. [207607]

Jonathan Shaw: The Environment Agency undertook an economic price elasticity study to support the development of its three-year charging plan for craft registrations. This study suggested that the likely effect of three successive 12 per cent. charge increases would be to reduce the number of craft registered on Environment Agency waterways by between 6 and 14 per cent. over the three years.

It is estimated that, on this basis, these increases would raise registration income by between £1 million and £1.5 million (27 to 40 per cent.) against 2006-07 income.

The Environment Agency reports that the first year of the charging plan was implemented for 2007-08, with registration charges being increased by 12 per cent. The registration income received by the Environment Agency increased by £460,000 (12.3 per cent.), whilst the number of registered craft fell by 0.2 per cent. on 2006-07 numbers.

Farms: Rents

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of the rates of rents on levels of tenant farming. [208905]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA collects rent information through the Tenanted Land Survey which runs every two years in England. The latest information available is from October 2006 and the average rent per hectare for each tenancy type is shown in the following table.

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Average rent/hectare
2004 2006 Percentage change 2006/04

Full Agricultural Tenancies (FAT's)




Farm Business Tenancies (FBT's)




Seasonal agreements(1)




(1) For less than one year

The increase in FAT rents was mainly due to an increase of 15 per cent. in the rent paid on upland cattle and sheep holdings from £33.70 to £38.69.

Rents for FBT's decreased in every sector, with the largest falls in the upland and lowland cattle and sheep holdings of 21 per cent. and 17 per cent. respectively.

There are not enough data available to break down the seasonal agreements rent into farm types.

Full details on rents by farm types can be found under the relevant Statistical Release on the DEFRA website. The next Tenanted Land Survey is due to run in October 2008 and results will be published in March 2009.

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