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21 Apr 2009 : Column 549W—continued

Departmental Computers

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many laptop computers have been provided to (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) civil servants in (i) his Department and (ii) the Prime Minister’s Office in each year since 2005; and at what cost. [268270]

Mr. Watson: The number of laptops being used to support the work of the Cabinet Office in each year since 2005 is shown:

Number

2005

543

2006

739

2007

945

2008

935


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Records covering the total cost to the public purse are not held centrally and so the information requested can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Our records do not differentiate between laptop computers provided to Ministers, special advisers and civil servants.

The Prime Minister’s Office is an integral part of the Cabinet Office.

Departmental ICT

Jenny Willott: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will place in the Library a copy of the Green ICT Scoreboard; and if he will make a statement. [269763]

Mr. Watson: The Green ICT Scorecard is an assessment methodology and database belonging to Gartner Consulting. It was used to help departments develop their action plans to implement the Greening Government ICT strategy. A summary of the action plans will be published later this year together with progress made against the strategy and copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Departmental Mobile Phones

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much has been spent on (a) the purchase of and (b) bills for (i) BlackBerrys and (ii) other mobile telephones for (A) Ministers, (B) special advisers and (C) civil servants in (1) his Department and (2) the Prime Minister's Office in each year since 2005. [268253]

Mr. Watson: Records covering the cost of purchase and billing for BlackBerrys and other mobile telephony are not held centrally and so the information requested can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Our records do not differentiate between mobile devices supplied to Ministers, special advisers and civil servants.

The Prime Minister's Office is an integral part of the Cabinet Office.

Government Departments: Telephone Services

Martin Salter: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what information his Department holds on the number of Government departments and agencies which require people to dial a premium rate number to contact them; what plans the Government has to replace such use of 0845 numbers with numbers that charge a local or national rate; and if he will make a statement. [268458]

Mr. Watson: The Cabinet Office, through the Contact Council, is currently conducting a survey of the different number types, such as 0845, 0870 or 0800, used by central Government Departments and agencies. Each Department is currently responsible for their own numbering strategy, and it is their responsibility to ensure that all citizens—whatever their incomes—can afford to make contact. The council intends to use the results of its numbering survey to steer a future cross-government approach to the use of phone numbers. Consideration of the use of 0845 numbers, which are
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defined by Ofcom as “special service basic rate numbers” will form part of this methodology. As far as the Contact Council is currently aware, no central government department operates a premium rate number—defined by Ofcom as a number beginning either ‘090’ or ‘091’—and if they do this will be identified during the aforementioned numbering survey.

Non-departmental Public Bodies

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) how many non-departmental public bodies there were in (a) 1997, (b) May 2007 and (c) February 2009; [266926]

(2) how many staff of non-departmental public bodies were employed in (a) 1997, (b) May 2007 and (c) February 2009. [266927]

Mr. Watson: In 1997 there were 1,128 non-departmental public bodies sponsored by the UK Government employing approximately 106,400 staff. By 2007 this had fallen to 827 non-departmental public bodies employing around 96,500 staff. Figures for 2009 will be published in due course.

Public Consultation

Andrew Miller: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what recent steps his Department has taken to assist members of the public to use interactive digital technology in order to participate in the development of government policy. [267349]

Mr. Watson: The Power of Information Taskforce published their final report containing 25 challenging recommendations on how Government should proceed with Digital Engagement on 2 March 2009. It can be found online at:

It was initially published in a 'beta' state, where it was open for public comment for two weeks before the taskforce finalised their report.

Copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Animal Feed: Imports

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to ensure that imports of animal feed ingredients are derived from sustainable sources. [269319]

Jane Kennedy: The feed industry is free to source its materials as it sees fit, subject to the materials being safe for their intended uses, in accord with the industry's assurance schemes and codes of practice, and taking into account normal commercial considerations such as the price and availability of materials and the preferences of its customers.


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BSE

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps his Department has taken to reduce the incidence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. [269113]

Jane Kennedy: Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a notifiable disease. The epidemic in Great Britain peaked with 37,056 clinical cases in 1992. In 2008 there were 33 BSE cases detected either as clinical cases or through the testing programme, a 38 per cent. decline compared to 2007. Most cases of BSE have been detected in cattle born before the animal feed controls were reinforced in 1996.

The ban on feeding ruminant meat and bone meal to ruminants is the key animal health control for BSE. In 2008, Animal Health carried out 2,322 feed inspections and collected 9,598 feed samples to enforce the ban in Great Britain. Animal Health continues to implement other BSE controls including the killing and disposal of animals which may have consumed the same feed as a BSE case and of the recent offspring of female BSE cases. The Food Standards Agency is responsible for ensuring the removal of specified risk material from the food chain, which is the key public health control for BSE.

Cattle: Animal Diseases

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps his Department has taken to reduce the incidence of anthrax in cattle. [269115]

Jane Kennedy: The incidence of anthrax in cattle in the United Kingdom is low. There have been six confirmed incidents of anthrax (with seven cattle affected) in the last 10 years. The last confirmed incident in cattle involved two cattle in Wales in April 2006. This needs to be viewed in the context of a UK cattle population of circa 10 million cattle.

During the first three quarters of 2008-09 official veterinarians and veterinary officers undertook 3,862 anthrax investigations (in all species) where anthrax was a possible differential diagnosis (generally unexplained sudden death) with no confirmed cases detected. Forth quarter figures are still being collated. Investigation and control of anthrax disease is one of Animal Health's performance targets on which it reports to DEFRA's Food and Farming Group and during its quarterly liaison meetings with DEFRA.

The number of investigations undertaken suggests that awareness of the need to report possible suspect cases is high among the farming and veterinary professions.

DEFRA's Veterinary Exotic Notifiable Diseases Unit have recently been reviewing their desk instructions relating to anthrax and Animal Health are currently developing a revised comprehensive training package for use in training new and existing official veterinarians and veterinary officers. In parallel with this Animal Health are looking at reviewing their Operations Manual instructions to incorporate some of this material and identify any areas where instructions could be improved/updated (e.g. in terms of contingency planning for disposal of suspect carcases, such as compiling a register of local authorities with access to portable incineration equipment etc.).


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Information about anthrax is available on the DEFRA website.

Dogs

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what contact his Department has had for monitoring purposes with businesses operating dog rental schemes in England in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [268907]

Jane Kennedy: We have had no such contact.

Domestic Waste: Waste Disposal

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 2 February 2009, Official Report, column 974W, on waste management: South East, what advice the Waste Improvement Network has given to local authorities on the frequency of collection of household waste. [268731]

Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Jackson) on 27 March 2009, Official Report, column 789W.

Farmers: Markets

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what schemes he supports to promote farmers’ markets and local produce in Lancaster and Wyre constituency. [266040]

Jane Kennedy: The Government support local markets of all types including farmers markets.

Funding is available for opening new marketing opportunities for agricultural and forestry products, putting the emphasis on quality under Axis 1 of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). Under Axis 3 of the RDPE, funding is available for the promotion of tourism activities linked to quality regional and local food culture.

Since 2002, the North West Development Agency (NWDA) has supported Made in Lancashire, an organisation specifically designed to promote Lancashire’s local and speciality food producers. They work with producers, retailers and food service outlets to bring Lancashire’s local food to market, including promoting the county’s farmer’s markets, such as those held at Poulton-Le-Fylde and Thornton. Made in Lancashire also worked closely with Lancashire and Blackpool Tourist Board in helping to create the “Taste of Lancashire” accreditation scheme.

The NWDA seeks to use funding provided by the European Regional Development Fund to continue the support of this high growth area.

The NWDA also supports Food Northwest; a strategic body representing the Northwest Food and Drink Industry. Food Northwest aims to boost growth of the industry, and help the sector maximise its economic potential through training workshops, ‘meet the buyer’ events and other activities.


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Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding his Department has made available for the promotion of farmers’ markets in 2008-09. [268353]

Jane Kennedy: Our support for the sector continues with the award, in January 2008, of funding under the Agriculture Development Scheme to the National Farmers' Retail and Markets Association (FARMA). This funding of £176,000 over three years is for a project to develop a national producer verification scheme for farmers' markets and an assurance scheme for farm shops. As a result of this project, we hope that the combination of producer verification with the farmers' market certification scheme will result in strengthened consumer confidence in farmers' markets.

Funding is also available to support rural retail in Merseyside (under which the businesses involved in farmers’ markets would benefit) through the Rural Development Programme for England. The North West Development Agency is responsible for administering this funding programme through which £2 million will be invested over the next five years.

Food Supply

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what contingency plans his Department has to ensure the security of food supply. [269111]

Jane Kennedy: DEFRA works closely with the food industry to deal with disruption to the food supply should the need arise, and meets the sector regularly to promote business continuity management. The sector has robust and resilient business continuity plans to deal with any threat of disruption. These plans have been tested in cross-Government exercises, in which the food industry participated. DEFRA also participates in the cross-Government programme of work to prepare for emergencies. Further detail on this programme can be found on the UK Resilience website.

Foot and Mouth Disease

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps his Department has taken to reduce the incidence of foot and mouth disease. [269112]

Jane Kennedy: Since the 2007 foot and mouth outbreak Government have accepted recommendations from both the Callaghan and Anderson reviews.

Sir Iain Anderson was invited by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State to conduct an independent review of the 2007 FMD outbreak on the most effective and efficient way to learn the lessons of FMD outbreaks quickly and respond accordingly. The Government have accepted all 26 recommendations. The full response is available on the DEFRA website.

Sir Bill Callaghan was requested by the Government to chair a review of the regulatory framework for animal pathogens, his review was published in December 2007. DEFRA was responsible for implementing phases 1 and 2 of the Callaghan review and responsibility for inspections of labs transferred to the Health and Safety Executive on 1 April 2008.


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More details of reviews and measures, and the Government's response and actions, are available on DEFRA's website.

DEFRA also continue to control imports. No livestock imports are permitted from countries with foot and mouth and meat is only permitted from countries where FMD is present under strict guidelines issued by the World Organisation for Animal Health and only from areas of that country that are free of disease. The rules also ensure meat does not come from any animal that may have had contact with FMD before, during or after slaughter.

More generally we continue to encourage, through livestock market road shows, good on-farm biosecurity to help prevent the spread of disease, including foot and mouth.

Lighting: Carbon Emissions

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate his Department has made of the effect on the level of UK carbon dioxide emissions of the replacement of traditional light bulbs by energy efficient light bulbs in (a) domestic and (b) non-domestic properties. [268151]

Jane Kennedy: The Government have a number of measures in place that have increased, and will continue to increase the market penetration of the most energy efficient lamps, particularly compact fluorescent lamps, in replacement of energy-inefficient incandescent lamps.

The Government’s Market Transformation Programme (MTP) estimated the resultant savings of these policies in its Policy Analysis and Projections publication of July 2008—available at:


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