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3 Jun 2009 : Column 480W—continued


Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will bring forward proposals to expand the categories of used cooking oil which may be classified as fuel under the proposed end-of-waste protocol. [276676]

Jane Kennedy: In October 2007, the Environment Agency issued for public consultation a draft end-of-waste protocol for “biodiesel derived from waste vegetable oil”. Following consideration by the Agency of the responses to that consultation, the terms of the protocol were expanded to cover “the production and use of biodiesel derived from waste cooking oil and rendered animal fat”. On this basis, a post-consultation draft of the protocol was notified to the European Commission under the Technical Standards Directive (98/34/EC). The notification period required under the directive has now ended and the Agency proposes to publish the final protocol in the next few weeks, and to review the published protocol in June 2011. In the meantime, the Agency has no plans further to expand the categories of waste covered by the protocol.

Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to inoculate badgers in Devon against tuberculosis. [277478]

Jane Kennedy: On 19 March 2009 my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced the initial outline for a Badger Vaccine Deployment Project, which will see vaccination of badgers in six areas with high incidence of cattle TB in England. Each area will be up to 100 sq km.

Plans for the areas have not yet been finalised. As potential areas emerge from our discussions with the farming industry, local engagement to encourage participation will be our highest priority.

Economic and Monetary Union

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what activities have been undertaken by his Department's Euro Minister in that capacity. [277169]

Jane Kennedy: Euro Ministers are responsible for Euro preparations in their Department and attend Euro Ministers Steering Group meetings. Meetings are held only when necessary to discuss practical preparations to ensure a smooth changeover.

Farming: Pigs

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department has (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned research on the effect in (i) England and (ii) elsewhere of intensive pig farming on developments in swine influenza. [276852]

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Jane Kennedy: DEFRA is currently funding research at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency looking at cross- species transmission of influenza viruses. This work has been ongoing for a number of years. While this research is not specifically focused on the effects of intensive farming, it seeks to give us a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in cross-species transmission and hence to better understand the risks.

DEFRA funds a surveillance programme for swine influenza in England and Wales. This is delivered by Veterinary Laboratories Agency and has been in operation since 1991. Private veterinary practitioners can submit samples for swine influenza testing in cases where this disease is suspected. This testing is performed free of charge. Under this programme, samples are tested from pig herds from various types of production system. If virus is isolated from a sample, further genetic analysis is performed to determine if there is any evidence that the virus may be genetically different from commonly seen swine influenza viruses in the UK. In addition, a random subset of influenza viruses is subjected to further genetic analysis. The aim of the programme is to identify any unusual changes in swine influenza viruses and to monitor the natural evolution of the virus over time.

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many pig farms he has visited in his official capacity in the last 12 months. [277334]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 1 June 2009]: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has visited two pig farms in the last 12 months.

Genetically Modified Organisms

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which genetically-modified products are authorised for sale in the UK. [277132]

Jane Kennedy: Decisions on the commercial release of genetically modified (GM) products are taken at European Union (EU) level. Currently there are 27 GM products that are authorised for food and animal feed uses in the EU. Full details are available on the European Commission website. Only one type of GM crop seed has EU approval for cultivation and is being sold in some EU member states. It is a type of insect-resistant maize known as MON 810, and it is not being marketed in the UK because it is unsuitable for our growing conditions.

Overseas Trade: Palestinians

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the outcome was of the meeting of 31 March 2009 on voluntary guidance on the labelling of food produce from the West Bank; [276766]

(2) when he expects to announce proposals on voluntary guidance on the labelling of food produce from the West Bank. [276767]

Jane Kennedy: Following the meeting on 31 March, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is currently working with other Departments including
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the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, HM Revenues and Customs, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and the Food Standards Agency to consider the clarity of labelling of produce from the West Bank.

Renewable Energy: Waste

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations his Department has received from the business sector on the effect of the operation of the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2007 on businesses involved in the manufacture of fuels from waste. [276286]

Jane Kennedy: DEFRA officials have received correspondence from companies whose business involves the processing of waste to produce fuels about various issues arising from the Court of Appeal ruling in the case of OSS Group v. Environment Agency. Officials at the Environment Agency have also held meetings with the companies concerned to discuss these issues.

Waste Disposal: Fees and Charges

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance (a) his Department, (b) the Waste Improvement Network and (c) the Waste and Resources Action Programme has issued on fixed penalty notices in relation to (i) closed lid policies, (ii) no side waste collection policies and (iii) putting household waste out at the wrong time. [275786]

Jane Kennedy: DEFRA has not provided any guidance on the use of fixed penalty notices other than what is available on its website at:

This does not refer to (i) closed lid policies, (ii) no side waste collection policies and (iii) putting household rubbish out at the wrong time.

Neither the Waste Improvement Network (WIN) nor the Waste and Resources Action Programme has issued any such guidance.

Zoos: EU Law

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the (a) financial and (b) other effects on zoos of EU regulations banning feeding of necrophagous birds with category 1 material; and if he will seek an opt-out from the regulations. [277087]

Jane Kennedy: No assessment of the financial and other effects on zoos of banning the feeding of necrophagous birds with category 1 material has been made. The EU Animal by-products regulation 1774/2002/EC only permits the feeding of category 1 material to endangered or protected species of necrophagous birds and other species living in their natural habitat, for the promotion of biodiversity. However, it does permit member states to authorise the feeding of animal by-products which do not contain specified risk material and other category 1 animal by-products to birds of prey and other carnivorous animals in zoos. The UK exercises this derogation.

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The European Council and Parliament are likely to shortly agree amendments to the regulation which, among other things, would allow member states to permit feeding of certain category 1 material to necrophagous birds and other carnivorous animals in zoos. The UK would be looking to take advantage of such a provision and understands that after the amended regulation is agreed, work will commence on laying down implementing rules in Brussels which would permit such feeding while ensuring protection of animal and public health.

A derogation to permit the feeding of fallen stock to necrophagous birds is available to Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and France as part of approved conservation measures for vultures. This derogation is not available in the UK. We understand that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is content with the existing arrangement of the feeding of category 2 and 3 material (ie butchers’ waste) to wild necrophagous birds and that a derogation to permit the use of ruminant fallen stock as feed material is not, therefore, necessary.


Airports: Security

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what standard security checks are operated at British airports for (a) economy class passengers, (b) business class passengers, (c) first-class passengers, (d) very important persons, (e) Ministers, (f) the Prime Minister, (g) Ministers of foreign Governments, (h) foreign heads of Governments and (i) foreign heads of state. [276792]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department for Transport is responsible for drafting UK aviation security regulations which are served on regulated airports within the UK in the form of Directions. The Department operates a multi-layered approach to security that is proportionate to and commensurate with the threat we are seeking to mitigate. The primary objective is to protect the travelling public and, in respect of searching individuals, to ensure that prohibited articles are not transported on to aircraft. Airports and airlines are responsible for implementing the security regulations and the Department operates a compliance regime that inspects and where necessary enforces the standards required.

All passengers, including flight crew, staff, Ministers of the Government and Ministers of foreign Governments, regardless of class of travel, are subject to the following standard security procedures: identity check, access controls, security questions, 100 per cent. screening of hold and cabin baggage and 100 per cent. screening of the individual, where necessary enhanced via a hand search and additional technological enhancements.

In line with international protocols, and the UK's international commitments in this respect, a relatively small number of individuals in recognised positions are exempt from these screening procedures. This is in part a reflection of the degree to which security, in various forms, accompanies such posts or individuals.

You will appreciate that for obvious security reasons it is not possible for me to specifically detail the posts, incumbents and security measures that apply in these cases.

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I can assure you that TRANSEC and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) hold a ‘Restricted’—‘Closed’ list of persons that are exempt, or may be deemed as an exempted person, for the purpose of aviation security screening and that this list is subject to periodical review.

Aviation: EU Law

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the likely effect of Regulation (EC) 80/2009 on a code of conduct for computerised reservation systems on UK (a) airlines and (b) internet ticket booking companies. [277188]

Jim Fitzpatrick: No assessment has been made of the likely effect on UK airlines or internet ticket booking companies of Regulation (EC) 80/2009 which entered into force on 29 March 2009 and which updated and replaced previous European Community legislation in this field dating from 1989.

Regulation (EC) 80/2009 results from a Commission proposal to simplify and update the Code to safeguard its key principles while increasing its relevance to today’s market conditions. The Commission conducted a public consultation and an impact assessment when it proposed the legislation in 2007.

Regulation (EC) 80/2009 as adopted should enhance the ability of airlines and Computerised Reservation Systems (CRS) to negotiate competitive deals and bring reductions in booking costs or increased travel options which benefit the consumer. The Government considered that full deregulation was not yet appropriate and that safeguards should remain in place to guard against discriminatory behaviour, especially in view of the continued existence of some ownership links between airlines and some CRS.

Departmental Billing

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much (a) his Department and (b) its agencies paid in interest to suppliers under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 in the last three years for which figures are available. [275194]

Mr. Hoon: The Department for Transport has only started to hold separate records for late payment of commercial debts since 2008-09. The interest cost for this year was £84,000. Information for the previous two years could be provided only at a disproportionate cost as the interest charge are not held separately for those years.

The following agencies have not paid interest charges in the last three years:

The following agencies can provide information only at a disproportionate cost as they do not split the interest charges separately:

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Departmental Conditions of Employment

Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library a copy of the current business plan for the flexible benefits project; and what estimate he has made of the level of take-up required for the scheme to break even. [277685]

Mr. Hoon: The flexible benefits business plan is a confidential document so it would not be appropriate for it to be placed in the House Library. However, we estimate that the level of take-up required to break even with the scheme is about 2 per cent. over three years.

Departmental Security

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many breaches of security have been reported at (a) the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, (b) the Driving Standards Agency, (c) the Government Car and Despatch Agency, (d) the Highways Agency, (e) the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, (f) the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency and (g) the Vehicle Certification Agency in the last five years; and what procedures each agency follows when a breach of security involves the disclosure of personal data. [276950]

Mr. Hoon: Information on breaches of security for the last five years for Department for Transport Agencies is not held centrally.

The Department and its agencies report all significant personal data security breaches to the Cabinet Office and the ICO. Information on personal data security breaches is published on an annual basis in the Department’s annual resource accounts as was announced in the Data Handling Review published on 25 June 2008.

Additionally, all significant control weaknesses including other significant security breaches are included in the Statement of Internal Control which is published within the annual resource accounts.

Railways: Scotland

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 14 May 2009, Official Report, column 881W, on a London-Scotland high-speed rail link, what topics were discussed during the meeting on 24 April 2009; and whether any decisions on funding methodology for high-speed rail links were made at that meeting. [276928]

Paul Clark: There was a general discussion about the potential benefits of high-speed rail, including environmental considerations; the possibility of modal shift; economic priorities; and the consideration of the Scottish Government’s views as work is taken forward.

It was noted there is still a great deal of work to be done in developing a business case and identifying funding solutions, and the Scottish Executive was encouraged to engage with “High Speed Two” as this work commences.

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