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27 Jan 2009 : Column 319Wcontinued
Ms Angela C. Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department has taken on DNA sampling of those bird species at most risk of being taken illegally from the wild for commercial purposes. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: DNA testing carried out by the Animal Health Agency relating to Schedule 4 birds will be conducted on a risk-based and intelligence led approach. Similarly, risk-based decisions will be taken to conduct inspections using the following three main risk factors:
1. Priority keepers
2. Priority species
3. Priority inspection types
New processes have been introduced to improve operational effectiveness and to help implement the move away from traditional routine visits to a more directed and targeted inspection effort. This will enable more consistency and coordination between Animal Health and enforcement agencies and has already resulted in the development of a current DNA-related prosecution case, which is the first involving a Schedule 4 bird of prey for 10 years.
Ms Angela C. Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he plans to publish the proposed Game Bird Welfare Code; and whether he plans to consult on the code. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: The working group currently drafting the code of practice on the welfare of game birds aims to publish a draft available for public consultation by July 2009.
Ms Angela C. Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Martin Horwood) of 1 April 2008, Official Report, column 726W, on birds: trade, which organisation has been contracted by his Department to assess the effects of the prohibition on the importation of wild birds into the EU; when the contract was let; what the stipulated date of completion of the contract is; how much the contract has cost his Department to date; and when he expects a report on the assessment to be published; 
(2) when he expects the report on the effects of the prohibition on the importation of wild birds into the EU to be published; and if he will make a statement. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: The contract was let on 13 December 2006 to the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). The initial completion date for the work was 1 September 2007 but because of difficulties experienced by UNEP-WCMC in making contact with some countries their investigations were extended. An initial report was subsequently received on 18 January 2008. Uncertainties about some of the content of the report have delayed its finalisation, but it is now expected to be published in time for it to be presented to the next EU CITES Management Committee on 13 March. The cost of the contract has been £70,000.
Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his Department's policy is on reintroducing golden eagles to northern England. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: We are committed to conserving our native species and habitats and it is important to use our resources wisely for this purpose. We would support the reintroduction of species if justified on environmental and sustainability grounds, but any proposal would have to be very carefully considered.
I am not aware of any current proposals to reintroduce golden eagles to northern England. A reintroduction project for this species would require a full feasibility study and a formal assessment against internationally accepted guidelines produced by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) before it could commence. No such feasibility study or IUCN assessment has been undertaken or commissioned by Natural England.
Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his Department's policy is on population levels for the hen harrier in England; and what recent steps it has taken to preserve hen harrier populations. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: My Department has implemented a number of initiatives recently to address the conservation of birds of prey, including the hen harrier:
The hen harrier was included in the list of species and habitats of principal importance for the conservation of biodiversity in England, published on 22 May 2008, under section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. The
listing means that Government must take reasonable steps to further their conservation or promote the taking of such steps by others.
Natural England is looking to improve the conservation of the hen harrier by examining the feasibility of reintroducing this species to the lowland part of its former range.
On the basis of the work carried out by the National Wildlife Crime Unit, hen harrier persecution is a UK wildlife crime priority. The inclusion of hen harrier persecution as a wildlife crime priority for two years running demonstrates how seriously the Government take this issue.
The wildlife incident investigation scheme (WIIS) investigates the deaths of wildlife throughout the UK where there is evidence that pesticide poisoning may be involved. WIIS is supported by the Campaign Against Illegal Poisoning (CAIP), which aims to protect some of Britain's rarest birds of prey and wildlife from accidental and illegal poisoning by pesticides, and was relaunched in July 2008. Over the next three years activities under CAIP will include preventing poisoning and improving detection of poisoning cases.
To emphasise the Government's concern about persecution of birds of prey, on 23 October 2008, I publicly signed a pledge with a number of conservation and shooting interest organisations that recognised the importance of raptors in England and that there is no place for the illegal killing of these species.
Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information his Department holds on the effects of bluetongue vaccination on fertility in bulls. [R] 
Jane Kennedy [holding answer 26 January 2009]: Responsibility for licensing veterinary medicines in the UK, including bluetongue vaccine, rests with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). In licensing a product, the VMD assesses data on safety, quality and efficacy and establishes that the advantages of the product outweigh any risks before issuing a marketing authorisation. Once a product has been marketed, the VMD monitors its safety and efficacy through reports of suspected adverse reactions.
There is no evidence from the data assessed prior to issuing a marketing authorisation or field use that bluetongue vaccination has any effect on fertility in bulls.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to which (a) charities and (b) voluntary organisations his Department has provided funding in the last five years; and how much funding was provided to each. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: DEFRA does not hold this information centrally. The Department's grant programmes are administered by a wide range of delivery bodies.
To collect the information centrally would incur disproportionate cost.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) directly-operated and (b) franchised catering outlets his Department and its agencies provides for staff. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: From information held centrally, the Department has 37 directly-operated catering outlets and no franchised catering outlets.
Mr. Vara: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of the IT systems in (a) his Department and (b) its agencies are fully accredited to the Governments security standards. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: DEFRA and its agencies have over 1,000 discrete application systems of varying size, complexity and age. The build and management of IT systems is subject to a number of over-arching security controls that apply across the DEFRA IT estate. A joint project with DEFRAs IT service provider is under way to review all existing systems. Those continuing to meet an operational requirement will be subject to a formal accreditation procedure. For new systems, the accreditation process defined in the new Government Security Policy Framework (SPF) will be embedded into the system development life cycle.
While it is not possible to provide an accurate assessment of the percentage of IT systems accredited to Government security standards across DEFRA and its agencies it is a fact that the DEFRA IT network infrastructure is accredited to Government standards required for the processing of protectively marked information. Work is currently in hand to ensure that the network fully meets the standards now defined in the SPF.
In addition the Central Science Laboratory (CSL) network is fully accredited to Government standards, while the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) systems are accredited to ISO27001 standard.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many bonuses were awarded to senior civil servants working at his Department and its agencies in (a) 2007 and (b) 2008; and how much was spent on such bonuses in each of those years. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: The following table shows the paybill costs of bonuses paid in 2007 and 2008 pay awards and the number of bonuses paid.
Non-consolidated cash payments, otherwise known as bonuses, reward in-year performances in relation to agreed objectives, or short-term personal contribution to wider organisational objectives. Bonuses are paid in addition to base pay increases and do not count towards pension.
Bonuses are allocated by Departments from a pot expressed as a percentage of the SCS salary bill, which is agreed centrally each year following the SSRB recommendations. The intention is that bonus decisions should be differentiated in order to recognise the highest achievers.
Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what use (a) his Department and (b) service providers under contract to his Department make of (i) 0844 and 0845 telephone numbers and (ii) revenue-sharing telephone numbers for calls from members of the public; for which services such numbers are used; what prefixes are used for revenue-sharing numbers; how much revenue has accrued from revenue-sharing numbers in each of the last five years; what consideration his Department has given to introducing 03-prefixed telephone numbers for calls to all such services; and if he will make a statement. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: From information held centrally, the Department has identified 38 0845 telephone numbers, which are used as common national numbers for helplines and enquiry lines covering elements of the Department's business. None of the numbers is revenue sharing. No 0844 numbers have been identified. Information on what use service providers under contract to the Department make of 0844 and 0845 numbers could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The Department is considering the introduction of 03-prefixed telephone numbers as part of its review of common national numbers.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will hold a public consultation on the effects of dredging of the Thames for the Thames Gateway Port on (a) the local fishing industry, (b) the local ecology and (c) Canvey Island sea defences; and if he will make a statement. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: The Harbour Authority, London Gateway Port Ltd, has set up a Marine Ecological Advisory Group that will assess any impacts from the dredging operation. The group includes representatives from the Environment Agency, Natural England, the Marine and Fisheries Agency, Port of London Authority as well as the Kent and Essex Sea Fisheries Committee.
Maintaining navigational safety within the tidal Thames is the responsibility of the Port of London Authority.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to reduce the effects on the environment of the use of mercury in low-energy light bulbs. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: The UK and the European Union are committed to reducing the use of mercury and exposure to mercury of humans and the environment. This includes restricting usage where it is unnecessary; for example in new measuring instruments and in the chlor-alkaki industry. In cases where there are no alternatives and mercury usage is unavoidable, limits on mercury content are set.
Energy efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) offer 75-80 per cent. in energy savings when compared with traditional incandescent lamps while in use, and also last much longer. CFLs contain an amount of mercury in order to operate and in the EU this is limited to 5 mg under the restriction of hazardous substances directive.
There is increasing evidence that if the life times of CFL and incandescent lamp types are compared, CFLs will produce less mercury. This is due to the fact that mercury is emitted from power stations during electricity generation and, as CFLs are more energy efficient, they require less electricity overall.
That said, CFLs should be disposed of responsibly. The European waste electrical and electronic equipment directive places a responsibility on manufacturers to ensure that these bulbs are disposed of in a safe manner.
In June 2008 the European Lamp Companies' Federation pledged to limit the amount of mercury in lamps to below the legal requirement of 5 mg per lamp.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department has undertaken on the proportion of domestic lighting fittings which have the capacity to take low-energy fluorescent bulbs. 
Jane Kennedy: Since they were first introduced in the 1980s, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) have significantly decreased in size to match the size of old-fashioned incandescent bulbs and are therefore now available for virtually all standard household Edison bayonet and screw fittings.
In 2007, through its Market Transformation Programme, DEFRA jointly commissioned, with the UK Lighting Association, a survey of household lighting stock and consumer attitudes. When asked, less than 3 per cent. of those interviewed said that they would not buy CFLs because they thought they might not fit their light fittings.
UK homes commonly use fittings other than standard Edison fittings, including spot lamps, fluorescent tubes and novelty fittings. Many fittings are also controlled by dimmer switches and, while dimmable CFLs are now increasingly available on the market, standard CFLs cannot be used with these controls.
In those instances where CFLs cannot be used, halogen look-alike bulbs can be substituted: these are now on the market and are fully dimmable. However, these do not offer the same level of energy savings as CFLs.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will estimate the cost to (a) boat owners and (b) recreational sea anglers of obtaining a licence under the proposals in Article 47 of the Commission's proposal for a Council Regulation establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy, COM(2008) 721 final. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: As part of the process of negotiating the proposal for a council regulation establishing a community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy, we shall be seeking clarification from the EU Commission on a number of issues relating to Article 47. Until then, it is difficult to accurately assess its potential impact in the areas referred to in this question.
DEFRA shall be seeking stakeholders' views on these points which will be considered in more detail in the Impact Assessment that my officials are drafting, and which we shall publish as part of the formal consultation procedure.
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