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29 Oct 2008 : Column 1020W—continued

Floods: Finance

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had with water companies on the method of charging voluntary organisations for their surface water discharges; and if he will make a statement. [230996]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 28 October 2008]: It is the responsibility of The Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat), the industry's independent economic regulator, to approve charging schemes proposed by water companies.

Ministers are currently reviewing recent experience on the impact of the change from charging based on rateable value to charging based on surface area.

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Food: Prices

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect on (a) crop yields and (b) food prices of proposed revisions to directive 91/414/EEC on plant protection products, broken down by crop. [230771]

Huw Irranca-Davies: In May 2008 the pesticides safety directorate (PSD) published an assessment of the agronomic impact of the proposed revisions to Directive 91/414/EEC. A copy of this assessment has been placed in the Library of the House and can also be found on the PSD website.

The assessment carried out by PSD has recently been developed into an economic assessment by Sean Rickard, senior lecturer in business economics at Cranfield university school of management and is available on the Cranfield university website.


Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what date (a) his Department and (b) the advisory committee on pesticides was first informed by the manufacturers that the insecticides known as neonicotinoids have been reported in other countries to have a significant adverse impact on honey bees. [229906]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The German authorities suspended the authorisations of ‘all insecticidal seed treatments for maize and oilseed rape’ on 16 May 2008. Eight products were involved which included six manufactured and distributed by one manufacturer. The pesticides safety directorate was contacted by that manufacturer on 19 May 2008, and on the same day, PSD contacted the German authorities for confirmation of the measures taken and for more detailed information. Contact between the advisory committee on pesticides and pesticide manufacturers takes place through the committee’s secretariat.

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what date members of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides were first informed that the group of insecticides known as neonicotinoids (a) were the subject of a court case in Germany being brought by beekeepers alleging that these chemicals were responsible for large-scale death tolls among their honey bees and (b) that the Italian Government had suspended use of the sprays because of their adverse effects on honey bees. [229908]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The advisory committee on pesticides’ environment panel was informed of the incident in Germany, which led to the death of honey bees and restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids in Italy, at their meeting of 21 October 2008.

The pesticides safety directorate is currently awaiting further information from the Italian authorities as to the basis for their action.

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Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will suspend immediately the use of neonicotinoid insecticides in order to protect honey bees. [229909]

Huw Irranca-Davies: I have no plans to suspend approval for the use of neonicotinoid insecticides.

The risk assessment process undertaken prior to the granting of the approval to market and use these pesticides established that the risks associated with the use of these products fell within acceptable limits.

The UK Government meet regularly with representatives of the European Commission and member states (including those which have recently imposed restrictions on the use of these chemicals), to discuss issues relating to pesticide approvals. The question of bee mortality and these pesticides was discussed at a recent meeting and at the 10th International symposium of the international commission for plant-bee relationships on hazards of pesticides to bees on 8-10 October 2008. At present there is no evidence that the approvals need to be amended on the crops and at the rates used in the UK, but we will continue to keep the situation under review.

In addition, the Government's wildlife incident investigation scheme reviewed a number of bee deaths reported to it this summer. No neonicotinoid pesticides were detected during analysis of the bee bodies.

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what special steps he has asked (a) the pesticides safety directorate (PSD) and (b) the advisory committee on pesticides (ACP) to take to investigate the reported high levels of deaths of British honey bees over the last two years; when he made these requests; and what advice he has received from the (i) PSD and (ii) ACP to date. [229910]

Huw Irranca-Davies: At this point in time there is no evidence to suggest that reported losses of UK honeybee colonies are related to pesticide applications (see response to PQ 5369 07/08). Consequently the Secretary of State has not asked either PSD or the ACP to investigate these reports.

Reports of colony losses are being investigated as a high priority, and there may be a number of factors involved. 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 into significant bee losses and to meet the demand for increased inspections of bee imports.

Single Payment Scheme

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost was of administering payments under the single payment scheme in each of the last three years, broken down by claims of less than (a) £1, (b) £1-£100, (c) £100-£1,000, (d) £1,000-£10,000, (e) £10,000-£50,000, (f) £50,000-£100,000, (g) £100,000-£250,000, (h) £250,000-£500,000, (i) £500,000-£1,000,000, (j) £1,000,000-£2,000,000 and (k) over £2,000,000. [230868]

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Jane Kennedy: The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) does not collect information on the cost of administering payments under the single payment scheme in England broken down by monetary value. This information cannot be extracted without incurring disproportionate costs.

RPA is the accredited common agricultural policy paying agency within England. Information for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should be sought from the relevant devolved administrations.

Wildlife: Pets

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government has taken to reduce illegal possession of exotic wildlife. [224316]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The possession of exotic wildlife is not governed by specific legislation but is affected by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 where appropriate and the European regulations on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora which implement the convention on international trade in endangered species of wild flora and fauna (CITES) in EU member states.

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 places a responsibility on local authorities to ensure that species covered by the Act are kept in appropriate and safe conditions. It is essentially a public safety measure rather than legislation aimed at illegal wildlife possession.

The CITES regulations are aimed at the trade of wildlife and thus control the import of exotic wildlife into and out of the EU. The CITES management authority, and the UK Border Agency work closely with the national wildlife crime unit to ensure that the enforcement and compliance aspects of the control in trade come up to the highest possible standards.

DEFRA, with other regulatory authorities and non-government organisations, are developing a communications strategy aimed at raising awareness of CITES controls among the public, businesses and other relevant organisations. Animal Health representatives regularly attend trade shows and produce literature advising on the CITES controls and with the aim of reducing the illegal imports of endangered species. The UK Border Agency is responsible for enforcing CITES import and export controls at the UK frontier. Profiling and targeting activities are also carried out by them in order to combat illegal imports.


Armed Forces: Complaints

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information is available to recruits to the armed services on the function of the service complaints commissioner and how to make complaints in confidence. [230791]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Information about the role of the SCC is communicated through a number of means. Joint service publication 831 Service Complaints (Redress of Individual Grievance) sets out the policy and process for making and handling service complaints, and includes a chapter on the role of the SCC. This is available on the
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defence intranet and to all serving personnel. A booklet covering the main points of the complaints process, with a leaflet explaining the role of the SCC has been issued for distribution to all Service establishments. A team profile is under development on the defence intranet to make information relating to service complaints available electronically. This profile will also provide a link to the SCC's website. The SCC has visited establishments of all three services, and continues to do so regularly, to meet serving personnel and the chain of command to raise awareness of her post.

The three services have different approaches to providing information to recruits about how to make complaints in confidence:


Within phase 1 training Royal Navy and Royal Marine rating and other ranks recruits at each establishment are briefed on both equality and diversity related complaints and Service complaints generally.


All recruits and trainees receive briefings that inform them of the function of the complaints procedures and the various channels which are available to raise a complaint. These include: the chain of command, Women's Royal Voluntary Service, the padre, the unit welfare officer, a medical officer and the confidential support line.

This is currently in the process of being reinforced by the inclusion of detail covering the role of the SCC in the "Army Recruiting and Training Division Code of Conduct and Behaviour for Recruits," leaflet and the recruiting group publication "A Guide for Guardians and Parents". With the commissioner's agreement, a paragraph outlining her role will be included in letters sent to parents.


There are two training establishments for the RAF, Cranwell and Halton.

At RAF Cranwell, the officer and aircrew cadet training unit is responsible for conducting the initial training of all officers and non-commissioned aircrew. Since January 2008, all cadets at RAF Cranwell have been briefed during their first week of training on the role and contact details of the SCC.

At RAF Halton, comprehensive measures are in place to ensure that recruits are aware of the complaints procedures. These include two 45 minute briefings on the RAF's equality and diversity policy, and the distribution of a booklet entitled "Combating Bullying and Harassment in the Royal Air Force" to all recruits. The issue is also addressed in the station commander's supervisory care directive, which is mandatory reading by all instructors at RAF Halton and is available to all recruits.

Armed Forces: Health Services

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 9 July 2008, Official Report, columns 1600-1W, on armed forces: health services, what the basis for charges for the use of (a) (i) internet, (ii) telephone and (iii) television access at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Selly Oak and (b) the telephone at Headley court rehabilitation centre was. [220596]

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Mr. Kevan Jones: The basis for charges for internet, telephone and television access are as follows:

Selly Oak Hospital






(4)60 pence


(5)10 pence

(1) For two hours
2 For one day
(3) For three days
(4) For 20 minutes up to a maximum of £3.60 per day
(5) Per minute to all UK land lines

Charges for use of the payphones at Headley court are set at 40 pence per minute to cover costs

Patients at Selly Oak are provided with pay cards by the military liaison officers to use the facilities concerned. Funding for the cards is provided from patient welfare funds.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) telephones, (b) televisions and (c) computers with internet access are supplied for patient use at (i) the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Selly Oak and (ii) Headley court rehabilitation centre. [220598]

Mr. Kevan Jones: At the Selly Oak, Queen Elizabeth and Heartlands hospitals there is access to television, telephone and internet facilities at every bed. The Alexandra wing (the military low dependency wing at Selly Oak hospital) has three televisions, one telephone and five internet terminals. In addition, the military liaison officers have access to a further three telephones and 15 internet enabled laptops if required.

At Headley court there are nine televisions, 10 internet terminals and three payphones available for use by patients.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average cost per patient was of the provision of (a) internet, (b) television and (c) telephone facilities at (i) the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Selly Oak and (ii) Headley court rehabilitation centre in the latest period for which figures are available. [222491]

Mr. Kevan Jones: The information is not held in the format requested.

Armed Forces: Housing

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many units of service family accommodation (a) in the UK and (b) overseas there are in each standard for condition grade; and what percentage of the total each represents. [216241]

Mr. Kevan Jones: Out of a total worldwide stock of some 71,000 service family accommodation (SFA) properties, 54,493 have been assessed for their standard for condition (SfC)—a measure of the physical condition of the property against 102 attributes. Of those properties assessed by SfC, the following are currently at each standard:

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UK SFA Percentage Overseas SFA Percentage





















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