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Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration he has given to licensing alternative treatments of the varroa mite available in the European Union. 
Jane Kennedy [holding answer 11 November 2008]: Veterinary surgeons currently have the authority to import and administer veterinary medicines which are authorised in another member state under the prescribing cascade. In addition, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) within DEFRA has proposed a change to the EU regulations on the cascade to allow nationally qualified bee experts to decide on the use of medicines in bees, in place of veterinarians.
In the meantime, the VMD has allowed a product authorised elsewhere in the EU to control varroosis to be imported and used in the UK under the VMD's Special Import Scheme. VMD has also contacted the French authorities to establish if a mutual recognition procedure could be applied so that this product could be quickly authorised in the UK.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the percentage of bee colonies lost in winter 2007-08 to the varroa mite and its associated virus. 
Jane Kennedy: No such estimate into the losses directly attributable to the varroa mite or the viruses associated with it has been made. However, investigations into colony losses show these are mainly attributable to the poor weather, especially during last summer. This is accompanied by poor husbandry, which often includes to failure to feed bees when they lack nutrition and failure to take appropriate action against the varroa mite.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government have spent on research into bee health in each of the last five years; and what plans he has for expenditure on such research in future years. 
Jane Kennedy: The following list shows the funding allocated by DEFRA for honey bee health research. This includes funding for specific honey bee health projects and elements of other funded research which benefits honey bee health.
Future research priorities are addressed in the draft Bee Health Strategy which is expected to be published early in 2009. Commissioned research will be considered in the light of priorities identified in the agreed strategy and the recommendations made by the NAO following its study into the work of DEFRA in safeguarding the health of honey bees.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the outcome was of research undertaken into bee health by Brenda Ball and others at Rothamsted Research Institute; and what steps he is taking to enable this research to continue. 
Jane Kennedy: Results of completed research projects undertaken by Rothamsted Research have regularly been published in scientific literature and articles associated with that work may have helped increase beekeeper awareness of bee health issues.
Future research priorities are addressed in the draft Bee Health Strategy which is expected to be published early in 2009. Commissioned research will be considered in the light of priorities identified in the agreed strategy and the recommendations made by the National Audit Office following its study into the work of DEFRA in safeguarding the health of honey bees.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the outcome was of his consultation on his Department's draft bee health strategy; and when he will announce policy decisions following the consultation. 
The National Audit Office (NAO) are carrying out a study into the work of DEFRA in safeguarding the health of honey bees and their report is expected to be published in January. DEFRA's response to the Strategy consultation will need to take into consideration any recommendations from the NAO.
Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the risk of the BTV1 strain of bluetongue reaching the UK from France; and if he will make a statement. 
France has confirmed 3,408 cases of BTV-1 during 2008. These cases are predominantly contained within the BTV-1 and 8 restricted zone in
south-west France. The first case in northern France (Brittany) was confirmed on 28 October 2008 and the departments of Finistère and Morbihan in the Brittany region were subsequently declared as a further restricted zone for BTV-1 and 8.
DEFRA remains alert to the spread of BTV-1 through France and monitors the risk carefully. In addition to the movement controls on animals from BTV-1 zones on the continent, implemented under EU legislation, DEFRA continues to conduct post-import tests on all animals imported from any area in continental Europe, for all Bluetongue serotypes. This means that all types of Bluetongue can be detected through routine testing.
DEFRA has an agreed policy for controlling incursions of any new serotypes under the existing Bluetongue control strategy, published last year, and are working with experts and vaccine manufacturers to review preparedness for incursions of any serotype of Bluetongue.
Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of livestock have been vaccinated against bluetongue in (a) East Anglia, (b) the South West and (c) the North of England. 
Jane Kennedy: Vaccination against bluetongue in England and Wales is voluntary. Vaccine is delivered through existing veterinary medicine supply chains, an approach agreed with the livestock industry to ensure the simple, rapid roll-out of vaccine to protect animals earlier this year. Because the approach to vaccination is voluntary, no definitive figures can be provided on the numbers of livestock actually vaccinated.
Vaccine was rolled out incrementally as it became available from the manufacturers in 2008, beginning with the south-east in May, and gradually westward and northward throughout the summer, until vaccine was available to the counties in northern England in September.
However, to date, sales data from the supply chain suggest the overall uptake of vaccine across the whole of England is around 60 per cent. Sales data indicate that uptake in (a) East Anglia may be in the region of 80 per cent. or above, (b) in the south-west may be slightly lower than this, and (c) in the north of England may be less than 40 per cent.
Jane Kennedy: Out of 28 million doses purchased by DEFRA, approximately 12 million doses of Bluetongue serotype 8 vaccine remain in the supply chain (i.e. are not yet sold to veterinary practices). The value of this unsold vaccine is approximately £5,011,713.
Jane Kennedy: The Secretary of State made clear in July that he wanted to put in place arrangements to enable Government and industry to work together to make progress on bovine TB in cattle in England. The Bovine TB Eradication Group, which was announced on 3 November, will do just that.
Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the consultation on revised waste exemptions from environmental permitting, whether charities will be charged to have permits for compost heaps. 
No decisions have yet been made on whether to introduce charging for some or all registered exempt waste operations. The Government have no intention of allowing changes that might discourage composting activity, by charities, schools or any other organisations.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of employees in his Department (a) are on a flexible working contract, (b) are on a job share employment contract and (c) work from home for more than four hours per week. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: DEFRA has in place a process to allow employees to apply to work flexibly in line with recent legislation. Flexible working incorporates a wide variety of working patterns and includes:
As at 30 September, 9.6 per cent. staff in the core Department worked part-time. Information on other types of flexible working is not held centrally and could be provided only by incurring disproportionate cost. Many requests for flexible working may be made informally between managers and staff and therefore will not be formally recorded.
Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many pieces of redundant electrical and electronic equipment was (a) recycled, (b) destroyed and (c) disposed by other means by his Department in each of the last five years. 
Jane Kennedy [holding answer 29 October 2008]: DEFRAs contract for electrical and electronic equipment is outsourced to IBM. IBMs third-party supplier, Northern Realisations Ltd., provides a service fully compliant with the Waste Electronic and Electrical and Energy Regulations (WEEE) and Reduction of Hazardous Waste directives.
|Total (all equipment types)||Schools( 1)||Sale( 2)||Reclamation( 3)|
|(1 )Supplied to UK schools and charities under Microsoft Authorised Refurbisher Project.|
(2) Remarketed commercially for re-use.
(3) Channelled into materials reclamation (Recycling). Average recovery rate on materials reclamation78 per cent.
Northern Realisation28 October 2008
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 22 November 2006, Official Report, columns 361-2W, when the Minister of State plans to meet representatives of the Kennel Club and the Dogs Trust. 
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