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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Animal Products (Imports)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Jonathan Shaw): As required under the Animal Health Act 1981, as amended by the Animal Health Act 2002, the Government will publish a review of controls on the import of animal products for the financial year 2007-08 on Thursday 24 July. I am pleased to be able to report on activity during the past year aimed at reducing the risk of disease entering the country via imports of animal products.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) remains committed to taking effective, proportionate, risk-based and intelligence-led enforcement measures to prevent illegal imports, and continues to target the routes that pose the greatest disease risk.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and HMRC continue to undertake a great deal of publicity within the United Kingdom, at the border and overseas. In January 2008 DEFRA relaunched the black and minority ethnic personal food imports campaign thus continuing to raise awareness of the personal import rules and also trying to encourage behavioural change so illegal food products are not brought in to the country.

DEFRA, with HMRC and the Food Standards Agency, has also used a wide range of other communication channels to promote our message. We will continue to monitor and assess the changing threats from around the world, and work with HMRC/United Kingdom Border Agency to make sure that our enforcement activity is targeted at the current risks.

Copies of the review will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses, and following publication on the DEFRA “personal food imports” website (, sent to stakeholders for information, seeking their feedback. Hard copies will also be available on request.

Poultry Register

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Jonathan Shaw): My noble Friend Lord Rooker has today announced changes in the use of personal data held on the GB poultry register in England and Wales following a public consultation. The changes will come into effect on 1 August 2008. Copies of the report summarising the responses to the public consultation will be deposited in the Library of the House.

The register was set up in December 2005 in response to increased threat of outbreaks of avian influenza. Poultry keepers with more than 50 birds are legally
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required to provide essential information about their premises to populate the register. To date, the register has been used for avian influenza risk assessment, prevention and control.

Decisions on changes of use of the register took into account the views of individuals and organisations who responded to the consultation as well as the wider public and taxpayer interest, given that the register is a valuable resource. The intention has been to achieve a balance between the benefits of appropriate data sharing, including public protection and improving public services, and the proper respect for personal data in line with our data protection obligations.

Use of personal data on the register will be extended in the following areas:

It is important to note that the register will not be available freely to new users in connection with these purposes. DEFRA (Animal Health) will issue extracts of the register as necessary to the new users in response to receiving a specific request for personal data but only if satisfied that access to personal data is necessary for the purposes identified above and that appropriate data management arrangements are in place. These arrangements shall be in line with the advice in the Government’s recently published report on data handling procedures(1) which is available in the Libraries of both Houses, and with policies and advice in response to the recommendations from the recently completed independent review on data sharing by Richard Thomas and Dr. Mark Walport(2). For example, measures being put in place across Government Departments and agencies include:

The additional uses of the register will make the best of this valuable resource. We take very seriously our responsibilities for the proper handling of personal
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data and will ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect the personal data of keepers in line with our legal obligations.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Lisbon Treaty (Ratification)

The Minister for Europe (Mr. Jim Murphy): Following the enactment of the EU (Amendment) Bill, the Government completed the ratification process for the Lisbon treaty on 16 July by depositing its instrument of ratification in Rome.


Official Receptions

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): I have today published a list of official receptions hosted by Ministers at the Department of Health for the financial year 2007-08. The total cost of official receptions for the financial year 2007-08 was £2,129.

Official Receptions Hosted by Department of Health Ministers 2007-08

24 July 2007

Reception for media correspondents to meet Secretary of State and Ministerial team, national clinical directors and Media Centre staff.


Alan Johnson

9 October 2007

Stakeholder reception for launch of Green Paper on adult social care funding.


Ivan Lewis

17 December 2007

Reception for key departmental



Ivan Lewis

17 December 2007

Reception for media correspondents to meet Secretary of State and Ministerial team, national clinical directors and Media Centre staff.


Alan Johnson

Pharmaceutical Services

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Dawn Primarolo): In April, we published the Government’s White Paper, “Pharmacy in England—Building on Strengths, Delivering the Future” (Cm 7341). The White Paper set out our future proposals for expanding high quality, clinical pharmaceutical services for patients and consumers and developing pharmacists’ role as a leading clinical profession.

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Following publication of Lord Darzi’s comprehensive and groundbreaking NHS “Next Stage Review Final Report” (Cm 7432) and our vision for primary and community care, we will publish next month the further consultation on structural changes for pharmaceutical services promised in the White Paper. I am keen that we give everyone involved and concerned ample opportunity to consider these in full. Consultation will therefore run through to the autumn and will be accompanied by relevant impact assessments. We also plan to hold further national events to support comprehensive discussion and debate as part of that consultation.

Since publication of the White Paper, we have proceeded quickly to the next stages to support implementation of our programme. We have:

To support further work we:

Home Department

Justice and Home Affairs Informal Council

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Jacqui Smith): The French presidency’s Informal Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council was held in Cannes
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on 7 and 8 July 2008. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, the Member for Lewisham, East (Bridget Prentice) and I attended on behalf of the United Kingdom. Since it was an informal Council, no formal decisions were taken. The following issues were discussed:

During the first session of the Council, member states considered what practical measures could be taken to improve the internal security of the EU and police co-operation. All welcomed the presidency idea that police co-operation should be developed around the principle of convergence, with most defining that to mean practical changes to improve cross border working by police forces, such as radio interoperation, data-sharing, work on major events and in tourist areas. Several called for more European police training.

The UK agreed with the practical approach recalling that, especially on the third anniversary of the London bombings, one of our top priorities remained counter terrorism. As such we welcomed the work led by the counter terrorism co-ordinator. Counter-radicalisation, projects like the Maritime Analysis and Operation Centre (MAOC(N)) on drugs, criminal asset confiscation, cybercrime, and a data-sharing and protection strategy were also all important. The presidency concluded by confirming that the lack of a new treaty did not stand in the way of the practical measures Ministers wanted.

The presidency introduced their paper in the Civil Protection session by stressing the need for the EU to be prepared, improve capabilities, convergence and interoperability and suggesting that some ‘modules’ (specialised intervention teams based on member state assets) be put on standby. A number of member states supported the need for co-operation, but responded with caution regarding new structures and any suggestion of EU authority over national resources. Modules must remain on a voluntary basis to ensure that member states have full control over the use of their own assets. It was concluded that these should remain voluntary but the EU should look at any capability gaps and support joint training initiatives.

Over lunch, the final report of the interior future group was presented and there was a general discussion with member states welcoming it.

We expect the work of both of the future groups to be officially concluded at the JHA Council at the end of July.

The presidency presented the Migration Pact and said that they hoped to adopt it at the October Council. All member states supported the pact but raised points of detail, with some arguing that asylum procedures should not be changed, others wanting a single consolidated instrument on legal migration procedures, concerns regarding the creation of a common border guard; and some seeking a stronger reference to burden sharing of people.

The UK welcomed the pact and noted that the EU should continue to focus on practical measures that deliver results including on data-sharing, border control, and passenger name records (PNR). The EU’s border agency, Frontex, (among others) should be used to strengthen the external border but the responsibility should remain with the member states. On asylum, the UK stressed that the EU should focus on implementing existing asylum legislation. The EU must provide a
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haven, but also needed to work together to combat abuse. The global approach to migration needed to be further implemented although we needed to be clearer on the links between development and migration.

The first justice session opened with a debate introduced by the presidency about whether judges required further training in EU law and judicial co-operation. Most member states welcomed the discussion but concerns were raised about judicial independence and the way the training should be delivered. Most thought that any such training should be open to judges, prosecutors and court officials and that the key subjects should be EU law, other member states’ law and language training.

The second justice session focused on the protection of children and vulnerable adults. For the discussion on protecting children, the presidency urged member states to establish national missing child alert systems which should be interoperable. The UK supported both the principle and detail of the presidency’s ideas and explained that the UK was rolling out an alert system. Information sharing on convicted sex offenders, use of CCTV and automatic number plate recognition were all also useful. The presidency concluded that the child alert system would be taken forward.

There was a discussion about how the European Union should deal with the question of the protection of vulnerable adults in order to meet the challenges of an ageing population and the high level of mobility of European citizens. The presidency encouraged member states to ratify the Hague Convention on the International Protection of Vulnerable Adults and there was a discussion about how member states could improve the implementation of the convention. The UK signed and ratified the convention within Scotland in 2003. Work is underway to extend the convention to cover England and Wales.

There was a short discussion of the report of the Justice future group over lunch. Those Ministers who spoke broadly welcomed the report.

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