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27 Jan 2009 : Column 330Wcontinued
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the merits of microchipping of equidae. 
Jane Kennedy: A new Commission regulation introducing compulsory microchipping of foals and older horses that have not previously been identified comes into force on 1 July 2009.
The regulation is directly applicable throughout the United Kingdom. DEFRA are currently consulting on implementation of the legislation in England. This consultation will come to an end on 2 February. Further information is available on the DEFRA website.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his policy is on the establishment of a national database of equidae in England. 
Jane Kennedy: The National Equine Database (NED) is a joint initiative between DEFRA and the horse industry designed to be of benefit to both parties. It contains information about every equine born or resident in the United Kingdom with a UK passport. It is used by Government to monitor horse passport compliance, aid disease control and surveillance and by the industry to improve quality of horses thus enhancing their value.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the Interdepartmental Working Group on Inland Waterways last met; what its agenda was; and how often the Working Group meets. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: The Interdepartmental Working Group on Inland Waterways last met on 5 November 2008. Agenda items were: engagement with regional development agencies (with a presentation from the East Midlands Development Agency on regeneration projects linked to waterways); the review of Waterways for Tomorrow; the EFRA report on British Waterways and the Governments response; and the prioritisation of restoration projects. The group plans to meet three or four times a year.
Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what facilities are available for the safe disposal of light bulbs; and if he will make a statement. 
Jane Kennedy: Certain types of lighting fall within the scope of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations. These include the most common type of energy saving light bulbs: Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). A list of designated collection facilities which take back CFLs and other types of waste electrical and electronic equipment is available at:
Retailers have a responsibility to tell their customers where they can take waste CFLs. Some retailers take back CFLs when they sell customers a new bulb.
Under the WEEE Regulations, producers (manufacturers or importers) fund the treatment and recycling of equipment once it becomes waste. The regulations require that mercury is removed from CFLs and that at least 80 per cent. by weight of the materials be recycled or recovered. The producer responsibility requirements of the WEEE regulations have been in force since 1 July 2007.
We are not aware of specific facilities for disposal of incandescent bulbs. These will be phased out across the EU by September 2012 because of their poor energy efficiency.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from which areas of his Department's budget he expects the cost of implementing proposals in the Marine and Coastal Access Bill to be met. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: The cost of implementing this important legislation will be taken into account along with all the Department's other objectives when prioritising and allocating resources.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the steps necessary to (a) implement and (b) enforce the provisions of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill in respect of activity undertaken in the area between the 12 and 200-mile limits. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: The Marine and Coastal Access Bill provides a new legislative framework for our marine area, and much of the detailed implementation of the Bill will be through secondary legislation. Further cost-benefit analysis, impact assessments and consultation, both within Government and with the public, will be necessary for many elements of the Bill. These will be undertaken prior to the introduction of secondary legislation and accompanying guidance.
Effective enforcement is essential to ensure that the rules and regulations designed to manage the marine area are followed. Under the Bill, we are consolidating
and modernising existing inspection and investigation powers to provide a core set of common enforcement powers for sea fisheries, marine licensing and nature conservation. These will make it simpler for those being inspected to know what powers inspectors have.
The impact assessment published alongside the Bill on 4 December 2008 provides our assessment of the key impacts to date of the provisions contained in the Bill. This includes those relating to the implementation and enforcement of sea fisheries, and nature conservation and marine licensing legislation between the 12 and 200 nautical mile limits.
Discussions with the devolved Administrations continue on an official and ministerial level on those provisions in the Bill for which they have responsibility in the 12-200 nautical mile limit.
Mr. Pope: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to be able to provide a substantive reply to the hon. Member for Hyndburn's letter of 12 August 2008 on behalf of his constituent, Mr. M. Saunders. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: Ministers have received a range of representations about the move from charging based on rateable value to site area charging for surface water drainage. The Government are aware of the affordability issues faced by some customers as a result of the switch and are currently reviewing their position. While the issue is under consideration, letters will continue to be acknowledged, and I will respond in full as soon as possible.
Ms Angela C. Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which of the recommendations made by the Joint Nature Conservation Council in its Review of Schedule 4 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1984, published in December 2004, were accepted; and what progress has been in implementing such recommendations. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: The Joint Nature Conservation Committee made seven recommendations in 2004 which formed part of the consultation on the review of the bird registration scheme in 2006. The recommendations related to the future management and implementation of the bird registration scheme. The following progress has been made with the implementation of the recommendations:
On future reviews and the consequences of removing species from schedule 4, it would be possible to add species to the schedule if the evidence supported such a move. Otherwise I do not envisage a further review of the schedule for at least five years.
With respect to better provision for maintaining a UK database, the National Wildlife Crime Unit now collate all intelligence relating to wildlife crime submitted by governmental and non-governmental organisations. This intelligence database forms the basis for identifying priorities for wildlife crime.
The adoption of standard nomenclature for registering species is not currently considered to be a priority.
On the need to register all hybrids that have a schedule 4 species in their recent lineage, the requirement to register hybrids was removed on 1 October 2008 as these birds did not meet the criteria for schedule 4:
the wild population is so small that even the taking of a very few individuals would have a detrimental impact on the conservation of the wild population.
On the recommendation of DNA testing prior to the removal of any species from the schedule, Animal Health did not carry out DNA testing prior to species being removed from schedule 4. DEFRA had no evidence to suggest that the population of birds that were listed on schedule 4 were other than from legitimate sources. The costs of DNA testing the whole captive population would have been prohibitively expensive and would not have been justified by any possible enforcement or conservation benefit. Any DNA testing to be carried out by Animal Health Agency will be based on a risk and intelligence led approach.
On the need for a uniform approach to any changes to schedule 4, my Department has pressed for this with the devolved Administrations. In England new regulations came into force on 1 October 2008. I understand Wales and Scotland are to amend schedule 4 in a similar way in the near future.
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many former prisoners are employed by his Department; and what his Departments policy is on employing former prisoners. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: Although information on the criminal history of candidates is collected as part of the recruitment process, this information is not held electronically for members of staff and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Within our recruitment process we carry out character reference checks and undertake security vetting and we request information on criminal records and convictions as part of both processes. When deciding whether or not to confirm an appointment on the basis of the vetting information received, we apply the criteria set out under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many of his Departments staff who left under (a) an involuntary and (b) a voluntary exit scheme in each year since 2005-06 received a severance package of (i) up to £25,000, (ii) £25,001 to £50,000, (iii) £50,001 to £75,000, (iv) £75,001 to £100,000 and (v) over £100,000; and if he will make a statement. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: In the three years since 2005-06 a total of 897 people have left on voluntary exit schemes and 33 people have left on involuntary exit schemes. These figures are broken down as follows:
|Severance||Early retirement||Severance||Early retirement||Severance||Early retirement|
2007-08 saw a number of wide-ranging internal schemes within DEFRA to ensure we were making the most effective use of our resources and deliver efficiency savings imposed across Whitehall. Schemes pre-2007-08 were designed to achieve Treasury-agreed headcount reductions. The latter schemes were based on a Treasury-approved Business Case that expect to achieve savings of £21 million to £28 million over a five year period.
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