Previous Section Index Home Page

15 July 2008 : Column 235W—continued

Agricultural Land

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the potential effects of changes in the price of agricultural land on the (a) profitability and (b) productivity of English agriculture. [217272]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA have not made a specific assessment on the effects of changes in the price of agricultural land on the profitability and productivity of English agriculture.

DEFRA publish aggregate balance sheets for agriculture in “Agriculture in the United Kingdom”. The balance sheet shows the value of fixed assets at a point in time (December each year) and the value of liabilities at a point in time. Fixed assets are dominated by land. As the volume of land is unchanging, the trend in the value of land and buildings is dominated by the effect of land prices. The latest balance sheet shows the value of UK agricultural land and buildings increasing by 40 per cent. at current prices, between 2003 and 2006.

Changes in profitability of farming are measured by changes to Farm Business Income. Data on Farm Business Incomes are provided by the annual Farm Business
15 July 2008 : Column 236W
Survey conducted in England. These figures are for March/February years. The most recent published figures show Farm Business Income in England at the all types level falling by 2.5 per cent. at current prices, between the years 2003-04 and 2006-07 (to then increase sharply in 2007-08).

Productivity for UK agriculture, measured by Total Factor Productivity, is published in “Agriculture in the United Kingdom”. The latest publication shows UK agricultural productivity increasing by 5 per cent. between the years 2003 and 2006.

Agriculture: Public Sector

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice his Department provides to British farmers to assist them in supplying fruit and vegetables to the public sector. [216791]

Jonathan Shaw: There is a page on the Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative web site that is devoted to providing advice to UK farmers on how to supply fruit and vegetables and other produce to the public sector. The page can be found at:

The page, for example, contains the guide “Selling to the public sector” which explains how growers (and farmers) can take advantage of opportunities to supply food to the public sector either directly or indirectly via the supply chain of a primary supplier. The guide also includes short case studies showing how small and local producers have worked successfully with the public sector and lists useful sources of further information and advice.

DEFRA is also funding the Government offices for the regions to undertake workshops and projects to improve the supply of domestically grown fruit and vegetables into the public sector. It is also working through key stakeholders such as the NFU and English Farming and Food Partnerships to provide advice and support to producers.

Bees: Diseases

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will consider increasing his Department’s spending on bee health research. [217020]

Jonathan Shaw: An additional £90,000 has been allocated to the National Bee Unit this financial year to expand investigations started last year under a Horizon Scanning project into significant colony losses and to meet the demand for increased inspections of bee imports consequential to the colony losses.

Research priorities are addressed in the draft Bee Health strategy which has recently been published for public consultation. Commissioned research in later years will be considered in the light of priorities identified in the agreed strategy and the resources available from DEFRA and elsewhere.

15 July 2008 : Column 237W

Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of those cattle slaughtered as reactors and inconclusives under the bovine tuberculosis eradication scheme, how many (a) were found to be free of tuberculosis through (i) visual inspections of lesions and (ii) culturing of tissue samples after death and (b) entered the human food chain in each of the last three years. [217160]

Jonathan Shaw: The following table shows the number of cattle slaughtered under bovine tuberculosis (TB) control measures in England in each of the last three years, and details the number of cattle where infection with Mycobacterium bovis ( M. bovis) was not confirmed at post mortem examination.


Number of cattle slaughtered( 1) Infection not confirmed at post-mortem examination










(1) Includes cattle slaughtered as skin and gamma-interferon (gIFN) test reactors, skin test inconclusive reactors and direct contacts.
(2) 2006-07 figures are provisional, subject to change as more data become available.

Following a TB breakdown, we aim to carry out post-mortem inspections of all the slaughtered cattle. Tissue samples are taken from the reactor (or if several animals must be removed, from a representative subset of those), to attempt isolation and molecular typing of the causative organism in the laboratory. This is done to support epidemiological investigations and management of the incident, rather than to validate the ante-mortem test results.

Failure to detect lesions of TB by post-mortem examination, or to culture M. bovis in the laboratory, does not imply that a test reactor was not infected with bovine TB. With TB in cattle, it is frequently not possible to observe lesions during abattoir post-mortem examination and, due to the fastidious nature of this organism, it is very difficult to isolate it from tissue samples without visible lesions.

Meaningful confirmation proportions for TB test reactors cannot be provided, as substantial numbers of skin and gIFN positive animals are not subject to laboratory culture, for example, once infection has already been identified in other cattle from the same herd.

Responsibility for inspecting TB carcases and their associated offal rests with the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS). Under the EU Food Hygiene Regulations, all animals herds with no visible tuberculosis lesions, plus any cattle with visible tuberculosis lesions localised in one organ or one part of the carcase, will have been considered fit for human consumption by the MHS.

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what income to the public purse resulted from cattle that were slaughtered as reactors and inconclusives in the tuberculosis eradication scheme entering the human food chain in each of the last three years. [217842]

15 July 2008 : Column 238W

Jonathan Shaw: The amount of money received by the Government from the sale of the cattle slaughtered as reactors and inconclusives in England, as a result of bovine tuberculosis control measures from 2004-05 to 2006-07 is set out in the following table:

Amount received

£ million







Bovine Tuberculosis: Vaccines

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department plans to spend on research for a (a) wildlife and (b) cattle vaccine against bovine tuberculosis in 2008-09; and what plans he has for such spending in the next two years. [217776]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 10 July 2008]: As part of DEFRA's commitment to tackling the issue of bovine TB (bTB), we have invested in a significant research programme looking into the development of vaccines for both cattle and badgers. The total investment (since 1998) in vaccine development reached more than £17.8 million by March 2008, with over £5.5 million invested in cattle and badger vaccine research last financial year (2007-08).

On 7 July 2008, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced a commitment to additional funding over the next three years. During this time period, £20 million will be spent on vaccine development to strengthen the prospects of successfully developing a usable vaccine.

The increased funding will not result in a vaccine being available sooner. While the programme of research has been designed to minimise the time required to deliver licensed vaccines, research by its nature takes time and a significant proportion of the work can only be addressed sequentially.

The exact scope and cost of the research projects is in the process of being finalised, approximate projected spending is shown in the following table:

Estimated spend (£ million)
Vaccine type 2008-09 2009-2011 Total for CSR period

Badger (injectable and oral)




Cattle (including diagnostic test)








The larger budget for cattle research reflects the high costs of keeping infected cattle under stringent biosecurity containment in the laboratory.


Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people were employed by his predecessor Department in Cumbria in 1997; and how many were employed by his Department in Cumbria at the most recent date for which figures are available. [216277]

15 July 2008 : Column 239W

Jonathan Shaw: The number of staff employed by DEFRA’s predecessor Department in Cumbria in 1997 is unavailable.

The number of staff (in full-time equivalents) employed at DEFRA’s offices in Cumbria as at 30 June 2008 was as follows:

Full-time equivalent

Carlisle (DEFRA)


Carlisle (Animal Health)


Carlisle (Rural Payments Agency)


Penrith (Veterinary Laboratories Agency)


Whitehaven (Marine and Fisheries Agency)


Workington (Rural Payments Agency)




Departmental Aviation

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many individual domestic air flights were undertaken within Great Britain by representatives of (a) his Department and (b) its agencies in the most recent year for which figures are available; and at what cost. [215556]

Jonathan Shaw: From information held centrally and for the period April 2007 to March 2008 inclusive the information requested is as follows:

Body Expenditure (£) Number of tickets













Animal Health



Rural Payments Agency



Expenditure on travel is undertaken in accordance with departmental travel policy.

Departmental Buildings

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department has spent on (a) new capital investment and (b) refurbishment of property in each of the last 10 years, broken down by project. [212869]

Jonathan Shaw: Information for the period requested, broken down for the period from June 2001 onwards, being the inception of DEFRA, could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

The Department did not have systems in place to record all the information in the format requested and it would take several days to review systems and track all individual projects.

However spend, excluding property disposal income, against the Department’s capital investment programme, on new and refurbishment projects but excluding projects for a number of its agencies (VLA, VMD, CSL, CEFAS) for the period 2001 has been identified as (rounded to the nearest £1 million):

15 July 2008 : Column 240W

£ million















During this period the following specific projects in excess of £0.5 million were undertaken and completed:

£ million

London, 3-8 Whitehall Place—Fit out of developer led scheme


London, Nobel House—Major refurbishment


London, 55 Whitehall—Major refurbishment


London, Ergon House—Major refurbishments


London, 9 Millbank—Major refurbishments


Workington, BCMS Offices—New build modular offices


London, Eastbury House—Major refurbishments


Reading, Northgate House—Fit out of new Innovation Centre


Stafford, RAF Stafford—Fit out for new GDS agency


Worcester, Whittington Road—Major refurbishments


London, Ashdown House—Major refurbishments


Next Section Index Home Page