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Food: Procurement

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to provide greater incentives to use local food sourcing in public procurement. [208904]

Jonathan Shaw: The legal framework governing public procurement does not allow public bodies to provide greater incentives or give greater weight to locally produced food and drink when awarding contracts. This is because public bodies are required to ensure public procurement is fair, transparent and not used to discriminate by setting up barriers to free trade. It would also reduce competition contrary to UK public procurement policy that is designed to achieve value for money for the taxpayer.

The legal and policy framework does provide public bodies with plenty of flexibility to be innovative in their procurement. This has allowed us through the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative to set a key objective to increase tendering opportunities for small and local producers. How they can do this, while remaining within the rules, is explained in our guide ‘Putting it into practice’ that was recently published on the PSFPI website at

Livestock: Disease Control

Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department spent on research into (a) bluetongue virus, (b) avian influenza, (c) foot and mouth disease and (d) bovine tuberculosis in (i) 2003, (ii) 2004, (iii) 2005, (iv) 2006 and (v) 2007; and how much his Department has budgeted to spend on research into each in (A) 2008, (B) 2009 and (C) 2010. [209834]


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Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 9 June 2008]: The following table gives details of how much has been spent on research into bluetongue, avian influenza, foot and mouth disease and bovine TB since 2003.

£ million
Bluetongue Avian influenza Foot and mouth disease Bovine TB( 1)

2003-04

0.34

0.23

1.75

6.69

2004-05

0.45

0.38

2.41

5.50

2005-06

0.55

0.47

2.06

6.43

2006-07

0.63

0.48

2.43

6.30

2007-08

0.71

0.68

3.12

6.15

2008-09(2)

0.73

0.71

2.89

6.00

(1) In addition to the sums spent on research into bovine TB, since 2006, a further £2 million a year has been provided to support work on the development of TB diagnostic and vaccine products.
(2) Estimated spend.

It is not possible at this time to give budgets for research in 2009-10 as the process of identifying and prioritising new research needs is currently under way.

Pesticides: Environment Protection

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the risks posed by the agricultural use of clothianidin and other neonicotinoid pesticides to (a) the wider insect population and (b) the beekeeping industry. [208891]

Jonathan Shaw: A number of neonicotinoid pesticides are currently approved for use in the UK including: clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiacloprid, acetamiprid and thiamethoxam.

The risks posed by products containing neonicotinoid pesticides to insects and bees were assessed as part of the authorisation process to which all pesticides are subjected before they are approved for use by Ministers.

Laboratory studies indicate that these compounds have high toxicity to honeybees and other insects such as ladybirds, lacewings and some ground dwelling beetles. However, studies conducted under field conditions, using products containing these compounds in accordance with their approved conditions of use provide data which support the conclusion that the level of risk is acceptable.

Field studies included monitoring impacts on honeybees confined to tents and exposed to flowering crops of maize, oilseed rape and sunflowers grown from seed treated with pesticides in excess of the UK approved application rate. No significant differences on bee behaviour or mortality were reported in treated and untreated crops.

Pets: EU Action

Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on ratifying the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals; and if he will make a statement. [209133]

Jonathan Shaw: Discussions have taken place with key stakeholders regarding the convention. It is clear that signing and ratifying the convention raises a
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number of complex issues including the concerns regarding the resolution on breed standards. These matters need to be carefully considered and at present officials responsible for implementing codes and secondary legislation under the Animal Welfare Act need to concentrate on those concerns raised by Parliament during the passage of the Act.

Pets: Sales

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he plans to bring forward regulations on pet vending under the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. [209157]

Jonathan Shaw: While it is the intention of my Department to review the legislation on the selling of pet animals, I cannot offer a date when such a review will take place. The urgency to review the legislation was removed in 2006 when the High Court made a judgment on a Judicial Review about the issuing of a licence, under the Pet Animals Act 1951, to the organisers of a pet fair. One of the findings from the Judicial Review was that local authorities could not issue licences under the 1951 Act to organisers of pet fairs, where these events involved the sale of animals, as part of a business, to members of the public.

Rural Payments Agency: Standards

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) original target and (b) actual reduction in (i) staffing numbers and (ii) associated expenditure was in the Rural Payments Agency in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [208187]

Jonathan Shaw: The original target for staffing numbers for the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) was 1,946. This figure was based on the assumption that the new IT solution would deliver significant headcount efficiencies, which did not prove to be the case.

The target did not include FTA, casual or agency staff as the intention was that the IT solution would enable RPA to phase out the use of these staff. However it proved necessary to retain agency staff and, as operational pressures increased, more were recruited.

Since the target was set the merger with the British Cattle Movement Service, in September 2003, and amalgamation of the Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate and Investigation Branch into RPA. In April 2006, added approximately 590 staff.

RPA staffing numbers in each of the last five years are:

Number

2003-04

3,996

2004-05

3,892

2005-06

4,592

2006-07

4,467

2007-08

4,297



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Expenditure on Staffing:

Financial year 2003-04
Total staff costs (£000)

Wages and salaries

70,491

Social security costs

4,784

Other pension costs

10,537

Total

85,812

Agency staff

4,777

Total

90,589


Financial year 200 4-05
Total staff costs (£000)

Wages and salaries

70,260

Social security costs

5,156

Other pension costs

8,116

Total

83,532

Agency staff

4,473

Total

88,005


Financial year 200 5-06
Total staff costs (£000)

Wages and salaries

70,836

Social security costs

5,461

Other pension costs

10,144

Total

86,441

Agency staff

21,085

Total

107,526


Financial year 200 6-07
Total staff costs (£000)

Wages and salaries

71,612

Social security costs

5,496

Other pension costs

10,985

Total

88,093

Agency staff

24,334

Total

112,427


For financial year 2007-08 the costs are not yet audited and therefore not available.

Seas and Oceans: Nature Conservation

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what evidence he has on the effectiveness of marine conservation areas in (a) fishing waters with reefs and (b) areas of mixed fisheries. [209720]

Jonathan Shaw: Under the right conditions, marine conservation areas are valuable tools for the preservation and enhancement of certain critical habitats and of site-attached shellfish and finfish populations. In specific situations, closed areas may benefit mobile commercial
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species. However, all conservation areas should be assessed for their effectiveness on a case-by-case basis in relation to the objectives of the area.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to publish maps showing the scale and location of marine conservation areas to be established under the Marine Bill. [209721]

Jonathan Shaw: The process of identifying areas for designation as Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), as proposed in Part 4 of the draft Marine Bill, will be based, as far as possible, on consensus between stakeholders. With this in mind, Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee are establishing a series of regional stakeholder-led partnership projects. These projects will be advised on appropriate site selection principles, including relevant scientific and national policy considerations, by the statutory conservation agencies and a number of national steering groups. The regional projects will make choices and then submit recommendations to the Secretary of State, by Easter 2011.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanisms will be used to protect marine conservation areas envisaged in his draft Marine Bill from fishing. [209722]

Jonathan Shaw: Within six nautical miles of baseline, the draft Marine Bill proposes that Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities will be required to further the conservation objectives set for marine conservation zones (MCZs). This will be achieved through the use of mechanisms such as the introduction of byelaws. In areas of shared fisheries, beyond six nautical miles, we would seek to secure the protection of MCZs from damaging fishing activities through the common fisheries policy.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proposals he has for the involvement of fishermen and their organisations in implementing marine conservation areas; and what discussions he has had with them on the matter in preparation of the draft Marine Bill. [209723]

Jonathan Shaw: Fishermen are an integral part of in the ‘Finding Sanctuary’ project, which is currently developing proposals for a network of marine conservation areas in waters off the coast of south-west England. Fishermen are represented on the project steering group and are also participating in the mapping of fishing grounds and habitats in the region. ‘Finding Sanctuary’ is the model that Natural England are following in seeking to establish similar stakeholder-led projects for the Eastern channel, North sea and Irish sea.

I regularly meet with the fishing industry to discuss a wide range of issues, including marine protected areas. Commercial and recreational fishermen have been involved in the development of the draft Marine Bill through public consultations in 2006 and 2007. Fishing industry representatives have been involved in gathering evidence for the impact assessment, which was published alongside the draft Marine Bill. Officials
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have also had various formal and informal discussions with officers of Sea Fisheries Committees and the Association of Sea Fisheries Committees.


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