The helicopter fleet has been taken to mean all aircraft in the Forward Fleet (at Front Line Commands for operational use and training) plus the Depth Fleet
(including aircraft undergoing major maintenance, repair, modifications and trials). It excludes aircraft declared surplus and currently awaiting disposal.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Off-the-shelf alternatives were assessed during the Watchkeeper programme competition and system selection process, but they did not meet the capability requirements and were therefore discounted.
Mr. Carswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons his Department procured the Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicle; what consideration was given to procuring off-the-shelf alternatives; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Watchkeeper was procured to provide operational commanders with a day/night, all- weather capability to detect and track targets without the need to deploy troops in potentially sensitive or dangerous areas. Off-the-shelf alternatives were assessed at the time of competition, but did not meet the capability requirements and were therefore discounted.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make it his policy to encourage farmers to grow fruit and vegetables not traditionally grown in the UK. 
Jonathan Shaw: Our policy is to encourage a thriving and market-focused domestic farming sector, while improving net environmental impact. In this context, if there is a market demand for fruit and vegetables not traditionally grown in the UK which can be met by sustainable production in the UK, we would welcome farmers exploring that kind of diversification.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 13 June 2008, Official Report, column 531W, on Agriculture: Young People, for what reason no further commitments of funding have been made; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 1 July 2008]: I responded to a written answer on 13 June 22008, Official Report, column 531W, to the hon. Member for Forest of Dean (Mr. Harper), on agriculture. I have since been advised that, in addition to the periods and amounts previously stated, funding of £51,500 for the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs has been committed for the period 2008-09.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to offer direct support to farmers who are able to prove that they have good on-farm biosecurity. 
Jonathan Shaw: The Government are currently running the Give Disease the Boot campaign, which provides livestock owners and veterinarians with information on a range of diseases and how best to protect the health of their animals and the health of the farming industry.
Leaflets offering biosecurity advice to animal keepers are being distributed by DEFRA at the Livestock Markets Roadshow, which is touring 80 towns in England during 2008. Key messages promoting biosecurity and vigilance are also featured in publications such as Farming Link.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the financial position of arable crop farming in the East of England. 
Jonathan Shaw: Data on farm business incomes are provided by the annual Farm Business Survey. For non-corporate businesses, farm business income represents the financial return to all unpaid labour (farmers and spouses, non-principal partners and their spouses and family workers) and on all their capital invested in the farm business, including land and buildings. For corporate businesses, it represents the financial return on the shareholders' capital invested in the farm business.
Average farm business income for cereals and general cropping farms was estimated at £78,000 and £74,000 respectively in the East of England Government Office region in 2006-07 (i.e. for 2006 harvest), compared to £66,000 for all farm types in the same region. For England as a whole, average farm business income for cereals and general cropping farms was estimated at £56,000 and £66,000 respectively in 2006-07, compared to £38,000 for all farm types.
|Average farm business income
|£ per farm
In 2007-08 (2007 harvest), incomes on cereals and general cropping farms are expected to have increased quite markedly, particularly on cereal farms. At the England level, income on cereal farms is expected to have risen by 45 per cent. and on general cropping farms by 27 per cent. These increases are due primarily to higher output prices compared to those of the 2006 harvest.
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what dates meetings have taken place between Ministers and officials from his Department and representatives of the Cooperative Wholesale Society since 1 May 2005 on the development of the Cooperative Wholesale Societys land in the Harborough district; where each meeting took place; and who attended each. 
Mr. Woolas [holding answer 7 July 2008]: We have no record of meetings between DEFRA Ministers or officials and representatives of the Cooperative Wholesale Society since 1 May 2005 about the development of its land in the Harborough district.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what representations his Department has received on the use of Deca-BDE from (a) the Bromine Science and Environmental Forum, (b) Albemarle Corporation, (c) Chemtura, (d) ISDL, (e) Tosoh Corporation, (f) the European Flame Retardants Association and (g) the European Chemical Industry Council; 
Decabromodiphenyl ether (deca-BDE) is a flame retardant used primarily in plastics and textiles applications. Over an extended period it has been subject to Risk Assessment action under the EU Existing Substances Regulation; the UK (the Environment Agency) was the rapporteur for the environmental elements of the risk assessment and France was the rapporteur for the human health aspects. As rapporteur the UK has received representations from a wide range of interested parties, including individual companies, industry
associations, and NGOs. Contact was also necessary to gather the information needed to carry out the risk assessment.
The conclusion of the risk assessment is that while deca-BDE is very persistent in the environment, it is not on present evidence bioaccumulative, and it is not toxic. As a result it does not meet the criteria for formal risk reduction activity under the Existing Substances Regulation. However, because of its persistence and widespread presence in the environment the manufacturing industry, with encouragement from the Government, has instigated a voluntary initiative known as the Voluntary Emissions Control and reduction Action Programme (VECAP). New codes of good practice for sustainable use of deca-BDE in the plastics and textile industries have been issued by the manufacturing industry. The aim of the codes of practice is to ensure improved control of emissions.
A number of other flame retardants have been evaluated under the Existing Substances Regulation. In addition, in 2003 the Environment Agency commissioned a report on the Prioritisation of Flame Retardants for Environmental Risk Assessment. The aim of the study was to assess the use of and risks associated with flame retardants, and in particular to identify substances that might require detailed consideration in terms of their possible impact on the environment. It also considered issues concerning substitution of flame retardants. The study noted that little was known about the effects of many of the substances, including those sometimes proposed for use as substitutes.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs over what period his Department depreciates the asset value of its (a) vehicles, (b) computer hardware, (c) bespoke computer software, (d) standard computer software, (e) furniture and (f) telecommunications equipment. 
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on which buildings occupied by his Departments agencies and non-departmental public bodies the lease will be due for renewal in the next four years.