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Fishing Industries: Subsidies

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what basis de minimis grants may be made to the fishing industry under EU rules; whether he plans to provide as such funding to the English fishing industry; and what the limit is of such funds that can be paid to fishing enterprises. [209724]

Jonathan Shaw: State aid can be paid to fisheries enterprises without notification to the EU Commission provided such payments fall below the “de minimis” threshold. This is currently €30,000 per enterprise over any three year period. I have no plans to provide further grants to the fishing industry beyond that already provided for under the European Fisheries Fund. For the English fishing industry this amounts to £71 million of EU and public funding.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what records he holds on the level of de minimis funding given to the (a) French fishing industry, (b) Spanish fishing fleets and (c) fishing fleets of other EU member states. [209588]

Jonathan Shaw: Neither the Government nor the EU Commission holds records of the amount of state aid falling below the de minimis level paid by member states.


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Foot and Mouth Disease: Disease Control

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with Surrey County Council on lessons learnt from the Pirbright foot and mouth disease outbreak. [210824]

Jonathan Shaw: Officers at DEFRA’s Animal Health Divisional Office, in Reigate, Surrey have held several meetings with representatives of Surrey County Council Trading Standards and Emergency Planning Departments to discuss a range of contingency planning issues including lessons identified from the foot and mouth outbreak in 2007. This dialogue is part of regular and continuing liaison.

Hill Livestock Allowances

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will reverse his decision to exclude disadvantaged land from the hill farm allowance scheme for 2008. [210075]

Jonathan Shaw: No. The Hill Farm Allowance will only be paid on land in the ‘Severely Disadvantaged Areas’ (SDA) from 2008. This decision was taken following a public consultation in 2006 on the future of uplands support, in which the majority of respondents on this issue were in favour of restricting the hill farm allowance to the SDA only. Land in the ‘Disadvantaged Areas’ (DA) is generally more accessible, higher grade agricultural land with more options for diversification. The model of the single payment scheme adopted in England will also, over time, tend to favour DA farmers in comparison to those in the SDA.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations he has received on his Department's funding for the hill farm allowance scheme; and if he will make a statement. [210076]

Jonathan Shaw: We receive representations on a range of issues relating to the Hill Farm Allowance, including funding, from various stakeholders. As at 10 June, the Rural Payments Agency had made payments totalling £22.9 million for 2008 Hill Farm Allowance claims.

Landfill: EC Law

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on implementation of the EU Landfill Directive; [211440]

(2) what his timetable is to complete implementation of the EU Landfill Directive. [211441]

Joan Ruddock: The requirements of the Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC) and Council Decision (2003/33/EC) have already been fully transposed into national legislation. The measures were variously introduced in regulations in 2002, 2004 and 2005 and these provisions have been consolidated through the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007.


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Article 5.2 of the directive has been transposed through the Waste and Emissions Trading Act 2003 and Landfill Allowances and Trading Scheme (England) Regulations 2004.

I have not held any discussions with the EU since the implementation of the Landfill Directive.

Livestock: Registration

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what penalties may be imposed upon livestock owners who do not register livestock with his Department as required. [210044]

Jonathan Shaw: Cattle are the only livestock whose birth, movements and death must be individually registered by their keepers. In English law the requirement to register is set out in the Cattle Identification Regulations 2007 (as amended). If a case is heard in a magistrates court the penalty for failing to comply with the provisions of these regulations is a maximum fine of £5,000 or three months in prison or both. If the case is heard in a Crown court offenders may receive a sentence of up to two years in prison or an unlimited fine or both.

Pets

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to investigate pet vending regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. [210183]

Jonathan Shaw: The timetable of proposed secondary legislation to be made under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, including that which regulates the selling of pet animals, was recently reviewed. While it remains our intention to review this legislation/we will not be able begin the process during the current financial year.

A wide consultation on any government proposals will form part of any such review prior to any decisions being made.

Recycling

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps his Department has taken to encourage people to recycle more materials. [211240]

Joan Ruddock: Waste Strategy for England 2007 has a range of initiatives to encourage recycling, including the need to focus on the key waste materials where diversion from landfill could realise significant further environmental benefits, which have been identified as paper, food, glass, aluminium, wood, plastic and textiles.

In 2004, DEFRA funded the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) launched Recycle Now, with key objectives to change behaviour and encourage more of us to recycle more things, more often. Recycle Now encompasses an integrated mix of national advertising website support, and an integrated, broad-based national and regional PR campaign. 90 per cent of local authorities in England are now using the Recycle Now identity.

According to WRAP'S research, the campaign has had a significant impact and more than six out of every
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10 people (61 per cent. or 25.5 million) in England were committed recyclers by 2007. The equates to 16 per cent. more people (8.5 million) being committed recyclers, compared to when the Recycle Now campaign was launched in England in September 2004, when the number of committed recyclers stood at 45 per cent.

Local authorities are responsible for the collection of recycled materials by their residents. The Government do not specify what materials local authorities must collect for recycling. However, Government initiatives such as performance indicators, local area agreements and the landfill allowance trading scheme should encourage local authorities to provide schemes that will increase recycling among their residents.

Rural Areas: Business

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to respond to the recent report by the Government’s Rural Advocate on the potential for boosting the rural economy. [210825]

Jonathan Shaw: I welcome this important report which demonstrates the huge contribution made by businesses in rural areas to the national economy. The report rightly stresses the importance of recognising this contribution at all levels in Government and the private sector, and the breadth of interest in rural economic development across Government at local, regional and national levels. DEFRA will work closely with colleagues across Government to reflect upon the report and take forward action in response to its recommendations.

Shellfish: Pest Control

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which rivers in the South West and southern areas host populations of (a) predominantly native and (b) predominantly American crayfish; and which rivers host significant populations of both species. [210702]

Jonathan Shaw: Populations of native crayfish can be found in river catchments such as the Alien, Culm, Great Stour and Thames, although the situation is continually changing. Across the region American signal crayfish are abundant in river catchments such as the Somerset Tone, Hampshire Avon, Windrush and Eden.

Many native crayfish catchments also contain signal crayfish, for example the Bristol Avon, but the two species rarely co-exist for long. American signal crayfish are now more widely distributed across South West and Southern rivers compared with native species.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Reconstruction

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many of his Department's personnel are assigned to the British Provincial Reconstruction Team in Lashkar Gah. [210503]


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Dr. Howells: The UK employs a broad range of staff in support of the Government of Afghanistan to help develop a stable and secure Afghanistan. Over 100 civilian staff in Kabul and over 40 staff in Helmand are employed from across the Government, including the Stabilisation Unit, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development and the Afghanistan Drugs Inter-Departmental Unit. Their roles include work in governance, stabilisation, reconstruction and development, security sector reform and counter narcotics.

Burma: Democracy

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings he has had with representatives of Burma's democracy movement in the last 12 months. [208464]

Meg Munn: As the Minister responsible for Burma, I have held a number of meetings with representatives of Burma's democratic movement over the last year, including Maung Maung, General Secretary of the Federation of Trade Unions Burma on 7 February; Dr. Sein Win of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma on 30 October; and Bo Kyi, Secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, Burma, on 15 November 2007.

I chaired two of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's four meetings over the past year with a range of stakeholders with an interest in Burma. These have involved UK-based non-governmental organisations and representatives of the Burmese exile community, Burma's ethnic groups and the Burmese Buddhist community.

During my visit to Thailand in February, I also met representatives of Burmese exile groups there.

Craig Alden

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will send a representative of his Department to attend the parole hearing for Mr. Craig Alden in Brazil on 26 June 2008. [211284]

Meg Munn [holding answer 17 June 2008]: Consular staff do not normally attend court hearings. Consular staff are not legally trained and cannot, therefore, comment on proceedings. In certain exceptional cases our officials may consider attending a court hearing, purely as observers. Should a British detainee or a member of their legal team ask for a representative from one of our embassies or consulates to attend a parole hearing, we will consider the request.

Departmental Pay

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many and what proportion of employees in his Department who received a performance-related bonus at their last appraisal were (a) male, (b) female, (c) from an ethnic minority, (d) disabled and (e) not heterosexual; and if he will make a statement. [208380]

Meg Munn: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not yet determined performance-related bonus payments
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for the reporting year 2007-08. The following data give a breakdown for the appraisal period ending 2006-07:

Staff declaration of ethnic background and disabled status is voluntary.

The Office of National Statistics publish data on the gender, disability status and ethnic background of civil servants in Government Departments.

Indonesia: Human Rights

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the (a) observations and (b) recommendations of the report on Indonesia of the United Nations Committee against Torture; if he will make representations to the government of Indonesia on the Committee's observations and recommendations; and if he will make a statement. [208769]

Meg Munn: We welcome the report on Indonesia by the UN Committee against Torture's observations and recommendations on Indonesia. The Committee welcomed Indonesia's accession to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2006. It also welcomed the visit to Indonesia by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Dr Manfred Nowak, in November 2007 as well as visits by the former UN Special Representative for Human Rights Defenders and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.

However, the Committee expressed concerns about abuses in a number of areas, including allegations of torture and ill-treatment of suspects in police custody, the disproportionate use of force by the security forces and the harassment of human rights defenders. It puts forward a number of recommendations and Indonesia has been asked to respond to some of these recommendations within a year. We look forward to seeing the response from the Indonesian authorities.

Our Embassy in Jakarta monitors closely the human rights situation in Indonesia and we continue to raise issues of concern with the Indonesian authorities. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Annual Human Rights Report for 2007 sets out our concerns on the human rights situation in Indonesia, including reports of threats against human rights defenders. The full report can be found at:

Iran: Baha’i Faith

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the treatment of members of the Baha'i community in Iran. [211363]


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Meg Munn [holding answer 17 June 2008]: The Government are deeply concerned by the overall human rights situation in Iran, including the treatment of the Baha'i community. The Baha'i faith is not officially recognised as a minority religion and consequently Baha'is are subject to institutional discrimination and persecution, for example restrictions on employment and education, anti-Baha'i propaganda campaigns in the state-run media and arbitrary arrests. We are particularly concerned that all the members of the informal group which co-ordinates Baha'i activities in Iran were arrested last month and we understand that further arrests of Baha'is have taken place in Esfahan and Ghaemshahr. The Government urges the Iranian government to address human rights concerns and uphold the international human rights standards that it has signed up to freely and regularly raises concerns about the treatment of the Baha'is with the Iranian authorities both bilaterally and through the EU. We have done so at least five times already this year. Most recently, following a recommendation by the UK, the EU issued a public declaration on 21 May expressing serious concern about the treatment of the Baha'is in Iran and calling for the release of the detained individuals.


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