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Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much European Union state aid was provided to tobacco producers in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Jonathan Shaw: We do not have information on EU member state payments that might be classified as state aid in the tobacco sector. No such payments have been made in the UK, and it is unlikely that state aid is paid elsewhere.
A production aid, rather than state aid, is however still payable to EU tobacco producers until 2010 when payments linked to production are scheduled to cease altogether. Payments of this aid in 2007 totalled €335.5 million.
Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will ensure that payment under the replacement scheme for hill farm allowance are (a) made to and (b) retained by those who farm the land in question. 
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 30 June 2008]: As announced in the Secretary of State's written statement on 12 December 2006, we are minded to replace the hill farm allowance (HFA) with an uplands strand to the entry level stewardship scheme. Like other environmental stewardship schemes, payments would be targeted at land managers for the delivery of environmental and landscape benefits. This would require a five-year commitment from the person who has management control of the land, in order to meet EU requirements and to achieve sustainable land management and value for money.
Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will ensure that payment under the replacement scheme for hill farm allowance made in respect of the use of common land are paid only to those who farm that common land. 
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 30 June 2008]: As announced in the Secretary of State's written statement on 12 December 2006, we are minded to replace the hill farm allowance (HFA) with an uplands strand to the entry level stewardship scheme. The replacement scheme would need to ensure sound environmental management of common land. We expect that this would be achieved by requiring agreements applying to common land to cover the whole area of the common and to have the support of the large majority of rights-holders. The commons council or association would be responsible for the agreement and would be responsible for compliance. They would also decide how the payments should be distributed. Guidance would be provided to help commons enter into agreements and to advise on the distribution of funds.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with his European counterparts on the continuance of subsidies for European tobacco crops. 
The reform introduced decoupling into the tobacco sector, which means that the direct link between production and support is broken. This will apply progressively until 2010 when direct support for tobacco production will cease altogether.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for the management of which (a) endemic and (b) exotic animal disease threats his Department has developed a specific strategy. 
Jonathan Shaw: The UK Government strategy for enhancing veterinary surveillance was launched in 2003. As part of this, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, through its national network, investigates, diagnoses, analyses and reports on trends in endemic diseases of farmed animals and wildlife as well as new and emerging conditions.
The 'Government strategic framework for the sustainable control of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in Great Britain' was published in 2005. Through this, the Government aim to work in partnership with interested organisations to bring about a sustainable improvement in control of bovine TB over the next 10 years.
DEFRA's framework response plan and overview of emergency preparedness, which are reviewed annually, summarise the Government's arrangements for controlling outbreaks of various exotic animal diseases in England. They include an overarching strategy for dealing with a range of diseases, as well as plans for responding to specific diseases including foot and mouth disease, avian influenza, rabies and bluetongue.
There is a need to prioritise contingency planning work according to risk, and contingency arrangements are published on the DEFRA website, along with detailed information about a wide range of animal diseases.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when he was first informed that wing tagging and web tagging procedures may only be carried out by veterinary surgeons; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what assessment he has made of the effect on conservation programmes of veterinary surgeons being the only persons able to carry out wing tagging and web tagging procedures; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) if he will lay an Order before Parliament under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 to permit trained persons who are not veterinary surgeons to carry out wing tagging and web tagging; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: During the consultation on the Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2008, officials came to the view that, according to the provisions of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, wing and web tagging of non-farmed birds could only be carried out by a veterinary surgeon. The Department has not collected any data on the impact of this legal situation on conservation programmes.
It is the opinion of the Department that non-vets should be permitted to wing and web tag non-farmed birds for certain purposes. We had initially intended to provide for this in the Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2008. However, it was decided that there would be insufficient legal certainty without a specific Exemption Order under the Veterinary Surgeons Act. Therefore, we are currently working on an Exemption Order to permit non-veterinarians to wing and web tag non-farmed birds. There is already an exemption in the Veterinary Surgeons Act which allows farmed birds to be wing tagged by the farmer or the farmer's employee. It is hoped that this Exemption Order will be in force by November 2008.
Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA already provides support to beekeepers by spending £1,300,000 on bee health in England. A further £90,000 of additional funds has been allocated to the National Bee Unit this year to expand investigations into colony losses. DEFRA has no plans to compensate beekeepers for declining bee populations.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the German government on its decision to ban a number of seed treatments suspected to have caused the deaths of beehives; and if he will make a statement. 
Further detailed discussions between Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) officials and the German authorities have taken place recently. The German authorities gave an update on their situation and confirmed that they had re-instated the approvals of four products for use as seed treatments for oilseed rape. Meanwhile the authorisations for use of four products for use on maize seed remain suspended.
Investigations by the German authorities have indicated that the cause of the bee deaths was as a result of a combination of factors: poor maize seed treatment without the use of an appropriate sticker to hold the pesticide on the seed; the use of the high dose (62 g active substance per 50,000 seeds) for control of western corn rootworm in a period of high infestation; the use of poorly maintained pneumatic seed drills which allowed the release of dust laden with the pesticide; and the
timing of drilling which coincided with the flowering period of neighbouring oilseed rape crops. The authorities are continuing their investigations to re-assess the four products and if appropriate to modify the corresponding authorisations.
Officials at PSD and the Central Science Laboratory are closely monitoring the situation in the UK and will of course act immediately should there be confirmed evidence of a problem in bee colonies in the UK.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what reports he has received on seed treatment products in use in the UK which are suspected to have a negative impact on bee health; and if he will make a statement; 
Jonathan Shaw: As a means of post-approval monitoring of any harm caused by pesticides, the UK Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) investigates incidents of death or damage to pets and wildlife (including honey and bumble bees) where there is evidence of an association with pesticide use. Data from the WIIS actually show a reduction in recent years in the number of bee incidents directly attributable to the use of pesticides. The few that are reported tend to be linked to the misuse or abuse of certain pesticides rather than their approved use and these cases can result in enforcement action. Since May 2008, there have been four cases (two which are related) involving bees reported to the WIIS, and these are under investigation. There have not been any incidents reported to date which could be connected to the use of seed treatments. DEFRA will, of course, act immediately on any concrete evidence from incidents which occur in the UK.
Jonathan Shaw: There are strict, risk based rules for intra-community trade in bluetongue susceptible animals. In addition we routinely test ruminants imported from continental Europe, and we traced and tested animals imported during the risk period in 2006 when BTV8 was present but undetected.
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None of them were reported as showing clinical signs of disease but undetected infection is common in cattle. All animals believed to present a risk were culled and there is no evidence of spread of disease from any of these incidents.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of cattle herd tuberculosis breakdowns accounted for by cattle-to-cattle transmission. 
However, in low bovine TB incidence areas, there is evidence that cattle-to-cattle transmission could be responsible for around 80 per cent. or more of cases. However, the situation is quite different in the high incidence areas of the country where 85-90 per cent. of all confirmed breakdowns occur. Some herds in these areas are also infected by purchased cattle, but wildlife is a major source of new herd infection and in many counties wildlife may be a more important source than cattle. It is impossible to put precise figures on these possible sources.
Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many Notice of Registrations (CPP35) the British Cattle Movement Service has issued in relation to the number of passports; what the main reasons are for which they have been issued; and if he will make a statement. 
The British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) has issued 6,858,466 cattle passports and 44,242 Notice of Registrations in the period 1 January 2006 to 31 May 2008. A proportion of these Notice of Registrations animals may have since been issued with a passport on appeal.
BCMS will issue a Notice of Registration when an application for a cattle passport arrives late, which is more than 27 days after the birth of the animal. In the last 12 months, around 0.08 per cent. of applications result in an appeal. 78 per cent. of these were successful and a passport was issued. In addition, a Notice of Registration is issued if an unidentified animal is found during an inspection.
Animals with a Notice of Registration may be kept by the keeper on the holding on which they are found provided that the keeper tags them, keeps a record in the herd register and that they are registered on the
cattle tracing system computer database. The notice explains the animal cannot be traded or go for human consumption and may only leave the holding alive under licence from BCMS to a disposal centre.
Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many representations he has received (a) in support of and (b) against the coastal access provisions contained in the Draft Marine Bill. 
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 2 July 2008]: I understand that so far 3,879 responses have been received to the public consultation on the draft Marine Bill which closed on 26 June. We also received about 11,000 postcards from members of the Ramblers Association supporting the inclusion of coastal access provisions in the draft Bill. We will publish a summary of the responses to the consultation within 12 weeks of the consultation closing.
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 1 July 2008]: I wrote to inform the hon. Member on 3 March 2008 that the Commission for Rural Communities headquarters will remain in Cheltenham for the present time. However, my officials and the Commissions management team are looking at options which would provide the Commission with accessible, sustainable and affordable accommodation in the future, including remaining in their current building.
Jonathan Shaw: Details of formal, standing bodies set up by Government to provide independent, expert advice to Departments and Ministers are published annually by the Cabinet Office. These bodies, known as advisory non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs), are listed in the annual "Public Bodies" publication. "Public Bodies" also contains some details on short-term advisory groups and task forces. Copies of "Public Bodies" dating back to 1999 can be viewed and downloaded from:
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