Chris Ruane: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission whether the Electoral Commission has taken steps to encourage the use of doorstep canvassing in increasing registration. 
Sir Peter Viggers: The Commission informs me that under section 9A of the Representation of the People Act 1983 electoral registration officers (EROs) are required to visit, at least once, any property for which an annual canvass form has not been returned.
In addition, the Commission has recently published performance standards for EROs. The standards cover the extent to which EROs use house-to-house inquiries to ensure that all eligible residents are registered. The Commission will publish its assessment of EROs' performance against the standards in spring 2009.
Chris Ruane: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what steps the Electoral Commission has taken to measure the effectiveness of electoral registration officers in increasing levels of registration. 
planning and organisation;
integrity and completeness; and
accuracy of the electoral register.
sources of information used by EROs to verify records on the electoral register and identify potential new electors;
sources of information used by EROs to ensure all relevant properties are included in the database; and
the extent to which EROs use house-to-house inquiries to ensure that all eligible residents are registered.
To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission how many allegations of misconduct by hon. and right hon. Members the Electoral Commission has received in the last five years; how
many such allegations it investigated; how many such allegations were dismissed (a) following an investigation and (b) without an investigation having been held; what the cost was of the 10 most expensive such investigations; and what the average cost was of investigations. 
The Commission further informs me that it opened formal investigations into four of these allegations. One of the investigations is ongoing; one resulted in a referral to the police and is presently pending; and one resulted in a voluntary forfeiture of a donation. The other case was closed without further action being warranted.
Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much was claimed in expenses for taxi travel by officials from (a) his Department and (b) its executive agencies in (i) 2006-07, (ii) 2005-06, (iii) 2004-05, (iv) 2003-04 and (v) 2002-03; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woodward: Due to the processes involved in making payments for expenses to officials, for both the Northern Ireland Office and its Executive agencies, it would only be possible to separate the reimbursement of taxi fares at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his policy is on the EU Council of Ministers' common position on the Regulation for Placing Plant Protection Products on the Market on arable and horticultural production in England reached on 23 June 2008. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: The pesticides safety directorate published an assessment of the agronomic impact of the restrictions set out in the Commission's original proposals in May 2008. The impacts of the common position are expected to be very similar. A copy of the assessment has been placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make it his policy to pay single farm payments to all farmers at the same time; and if he will make a statement. 
Jane Kennedy: The EU payment window for the single payment scheme (SPS) runs from 1 December to 30 June and the Rural Payment Agency (RPA) aims to ensure that payments are made as early as possible within that payment window. However in line with detailed EU regulations, before making each payment, RPA is required to perform detailed validity checks including carrying out cross-checks against all other SPS applicants to ensure that there are no dual claims. The timing of each payment will therefore vary according to the complexity of the claim with simple claims processed and paid quickly and more complex claims taking longer.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the return rate was of workers under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme in each of the last five years, broken down by country of origin. 
Since 1 January 2008, SAWS has been restricted to Romania and Bulgaria. As European Economic Area nationals, there is no requirement for them to leave the United Kingdom upon completion of their SAWS placement.
Huw Irranca-Davies: I have no current plans to introduce sea angling-only areas. However, DEFRA is funding research to explore whether closing specific coastal areas to commercial fishing with nets and lines (alongside limits on angling such as catch and release requirements or bag limits) would improve sea bass survival. The project is also assessing whether such restricted-catch areas could provide benefits to anglers. Emerging results from this project will be published shortly and discussed with stakeholders, although the final report is not due until 2011.
In inland waters, the vast majority of fishing is by angling and in many lakes and rivers the only form of fishing allowed is angling. The Environment Agency has responsibility for regulating salmon and freshwater fisheries in England and Wales. It has a statutory duty to maintain, improve and develop these fisheries. The Environment Agency's approach is to seek to ensure first that target stocks of fish are maintained at satisfactory levels and that fishing is undertaken in a sustainable way. In some places only angling is permitted. Where different fishing methods are allowed, the level of fishing is regulated by controls on effort and the restrictions on exploitation are balanced between the types of fishing allowed, for example, between nets and rods.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 14 January 2008, Official Report, column 856W, on the Animal Welfare Act 2006, when he expects to complete the review of the timetable for the delivery of secondary legislation and codes under the Animal Welfare Act 2006; when he expects to implement secondary legislation in relation to (a) racing greyhounds, (b) pet fairs, (c) primates as pets, (d) wild animals in circuses, (e) the cat code, (f) the dog code, (g) pet shops, (h) game birds, (i) animal (cat and dog) boarding, (j) tethering of horses, (k) livery yards, (l) riding schools, (m) animal sanctuaries and (n) performing animals; and if he will make a statement. 
Jane Kennedy: The proposed timetable for the introduction of secondary legislation and codes under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 has been adjusted so that it takes account of those areas which parliament regards as a priority.
In 2009, the Department will be issuing a commencement order allowing s8(3)-(6) of the 2006 Act to come into force (provisions relating to the recording of animal fights); a cat welfare code; a dog welfare code; and an equine welfare code. In addition, it is proposed to issue the following consultation documents in 2009: draft proposals on regulating the welfare of racing greyhounds; a draft gamebird rearing code; a draft code on the private keeping of primates; and draft proposals on the transposition of EU legislation concerning the welfare of meat chickens.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 3 July 2008, O fficial Report, column 1075W, on animals: electronic tagging, when he expects the proposed Exemption Order under the Veterinary Surgeons Act in relation to permitting lay persons and non-veterinarians to wing and web tag non-farmed birds for conservation purposes to be in force; whether the exemption order has been drafted; whether he has consulted the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons on the exemption order; and if he will make a statement. 
[holding answer 17 October 2008]: Surveys of badger populations in Great Britain were undertaken in the mid-1980s and mid-1990s. In the
mid-1980s the badger population was estimated to be 250,000 and in the mid-1990s a survey estimated the population to have increased by 77 per cent.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the additional £90,000, announced for research into bee colony collapse on 17 June 2008, has been allocated. 
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he has taken in response to the reported 30 per cent. bee population loss in winter 2007; what assessment he has made of the potential impact of this loss on food security; and if he will make a statement. 
Jane Kennedy: Reports of significant colony losses are being investigated as a high priority. To facilitate this, additional funds of £120,000 (£90,000 from DEFRA and £30,000 from the Welsh Assembly Government) have been allocated to the National Bee Unit to expand the investigations they started last year under a Horizon Scanning project into significant losses and to meet the demand for increased inspections of bee imports consequential to the colony losses.
DEFRA recognises the contribution that honey bees make to sustainable agriculture via their role in pollination and take seriously any threat to the sustainability of the beekeeping sector. The development of the Government's bee health strategy confirms our ongoing commitment to protecting and improving the health of honey bees and to sustaining and supporting beekeeping now and for future generations.
Jane Kennedy: Vaccination against bluetongue in England and Wales is voluntary. Vaccine was first made available from 30 April 2008, and the Protection Zone was extended step by step as further vaccine consignments were delivered. Initial vaccine uptake was highreaching between 80 per cent. and 90 per cent. in the South East and East of England, but uptake in the counties of northern England and in Wales has been lower.
My Department has underwritten vaccine supply to ensure that it is available. Beyond that I have made no plans to reach specific levels of vaccination at specific times. Vaccination is the responsibility of the livestock industry. An industry-led communications campaign has promoted the benefits of vaccinating, and the risks of not doing so.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the potential for bluetongue to transfer to calves in utero from infected cows. 
Jane Kennedy: The most recent assessment on in-utero infection in calves was done following the discovery of Bluetongue Serotype 8 (BTV8) infected calves in Northern Ireland in February 2007 which were born to recently imported cattle (Menzies et al 2008, Vet record, 163, 203-209) and the finding that some English cows infected in 2007 also transmitted the virus to their calves. These findings prompted new legislation to be brought forward at EU level on the export of pregnant cattle and resulted in the UK testing all calves born to imported cattle for evidence of BTV 8 infection. This is still subject to further investigation and research at the Institute for Animal Health in Pirbright, and elsewhere in mainland Europe.
Jane Kennedy [holding answer 17 October 2008]: Vaccination against bluetongue in England and Wales is voluntary. Vaccine was first made available from 30 April 2008, and the Protection Zone was extended step by step as further vaccine consignments were delivered. Initial vaccine uptake was highreaching between 80 per cent. and 90 per cent. in the South East and East of Englandbut uptake in the counties of northern England and in Wales has been lower.
Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will ensure that bluetongue vaccine is available to veterinarians in small bottles to reduce the price of the vaccine to smallholders. 
Jane Kennedy [holding answer 17 October 2008]: DEFRA has underwritten vaccine supply to ensure that it is available to farmers throughout England and Wales. Vaccine is available in a variety of bottle sizes (20 ml, 50 ml and 100 ml). This has provided livestock keepers with a choice as to which sized bottles they should purchase when vaccinating their stock to provide the best value for money.
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