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Defra Press Release

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: Defra press office issued three press releases on Friday 30 November. These documents are customarily sent from the press office by first-class post to noble Lords who have requested them. It is possible that the envelope was not sent until the evening of Monday 3 December.

Mountain, Moorland, Heath and Down

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty Section 1(2) of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 defines "mountain, moor, heath or down" as excluding any land which appears to the Countryside Agency or the Countryside Council for Wales to consist of improved or semi-improved grassland. Subject to that qualification, the Act defines "mountain" as including any land which is more than 600 metres above sea level.

The duty to prepare maps of open country (mountain, moor, heath, or down) and registered common land lies with the two countryside bodies. The Countryside Agency's criteria for identifying mountain, moor, heath and down are set out in its published mapping methodology which explains in detail how the agency will approach the task of preparing the maps. The methodology summarises the characteristics of each of the land types which comprise open country as follows:

    Moor — land usually of an open character with semi-natural vegetation such as; mires (including blanket bog), heaths, rough unimproved acid grassland, and upland calcareous grassland. It does not include agriculturally improved or semi-improved grassland, but may include areas of unimproved bent-fescue grassland, scattered trees, scrub, bracken, open water, rivers, streams, bare peat, rock outcrops or other bare ground, or

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    a mosaic of these. Moor usually occurs in upland areas but may also be found in lowland areas.

    Heath — land of a generally open character, usually characterised by natural ericaceous dwarf shrubs. Heath usually occurs in lowland areas on nutrient poor soils. The typical vegetation types are heathers, gorse, bilberry, mires, scrub, unimproved grassland, and bracken. It does not include agriculturally improved or semi-improved grassland, but may include areas of scattered or dense naturally regenerating trees, open water, rivers, streams, carr, sand or other bare ground, or a mosaic of these.

    Down — land comprising semi-natural grassland in areas of chalk or limestone geology generally within an open landscape. The typical vegetation type is unimproved grassland often with scattered scrub. It does not include agriculturally improved or semi-improved grassland, but may include areas of scattered trees, dwarf shrubs, streams, springs, or a mosaic of these.

Water: Access for Recreation

Baroness Crawley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the findings of the research contract about access to water for sport and recreation will be published.[HL2103]

Lord Whitty: We will be publishing the research report on Friday 21 December. The research provides information about availability of water space, the effectiveness of current arrangements in meeting the demand for different types of water-based sport and recreation and the scale and nature of potential demand. We shall be looking carefully at the findings to decide what action may be needed. A copy of the report will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Nitrates Directive

Baroness Thornton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress is being made in England in meeting the United Kingdom's legal obligations to implement the 1991 Nitrates Directive.[HL2135]

Lord Whitty: Following the decision by the European Court of Justice that the United Kingdom has failed to comply with the Nitrates Directive, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will be issuing a consultation document to key organisations very shortly setting out proposals for implementing the Nitrates Directive in England. The consultation will get underway in earnest in the new year, when a summary version of the consultation document will be sent to all farmers in England seeking their views on the implementation options. The consultation document includes an outline of the help available from Defra for farmers to meet the cost of compliance.

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Foot and Mouth Inquiries

Lord Northbrook asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will hold a full public inquiry into the foot and mouth outbreak in order to rectify any administrative and practical faults revealed by the recent crisis.[HL2112]

Lord Whitty: We are committed to having a rigorous, independent investigation of the issues quickly and efficiently.

On 9 August the Government announced two independent inquiries into the foot and mouth outbreak—the Royal Society Study chaired by Sir Brian Follett and the lessons learned inquiry chaired by Ian Anderson. The formal start of the Anderson inquiry was announced on 17 December.


Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assessment they have made of the number of unregistered podiatrists who are likely to be admitted to the new register of the health professions council without being required to undertake additional training. [HL1907]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): This is a matter for the new council.

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether representatives of non-state registered podiatrists will be invited to serve on (a) the statutory committees and (b) the non-statutory committees of the health professions council. [HL1909]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Membership of its committees is a matter for the health professions council.

Primary Care: Ethnic Monitoring

Lord Chan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether ethnic monitoring will be introduced in primary care so that National Health Service professionals will know who are their patients and potential patients. [HL1920]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: There are currently no plans to make ethnic monitoring mandatory in primary care. However, the Department of Health has, through sponsorship of pilot projects, developed several examples of good practice in primary care race equality monitoring, including ethnicity, and has encouraged the sharing of this experience. Primary care trusts (PCTs) and primary care groups, through their work in developing local health improvement and modernisation plans (HIMPs), continue to play a pivotal role in ensuring the diversity of local needs,

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including those of minority ethnic groups, are identified. With the shift in the balance of power to the frontline and the formation of strategic health authorities, PCTs will from next year lead the development of local HIMPs and be the main focus for partnership working with key stakeholders. HIMPs inform local healthcare professionals on the concerns and priorities within a community of all local agencies as well as the public and patients who use NHS services. The Race Relations (Amendment) Act will also require PCTs to monitor the implementation of policies and programmes to ensure they meet the needs of ethnic minorities and promote good race relations between different racial groups. The Government's overall strategy to improve the nation's health will lead to a more positive effect on minority ethnic health.

Refugees with Medical and Nursing Qualifications

Lord Chan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What efforts have been made to identify refugees with medical and nursing qualifications; and whether they will take steps to incorporate them in the National Health Service.[HL1922]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The NHS Plan holds a commitment to provide extra staff to the National Health Service, and the Government believe that it makes moral and economic sense to use the skills of doctors and nurses in the refugee community to the best advantage of the NHS.

The Government have funded the Refugee Council to set up and run a database for refugee doctors. Registration is voluntary but doctors on it will receive targeted counselling and career advice. There are plans to run similar initiatives for other health professions.

The Government have been instrumental in removing some of the bureaucratic and financial barriers so that refugees can access the training opportunities they need to succeed in the NHS. Further funding has been made available to various projects designed to help refugee health professionals requalify and start work in the NHS, and a steering group has been set up to allocate this funding and co-ordinate such initiatives. Around £500,000 is available for a range of projects throughout the country, some of which have received funding already and others will receive decisions on bids shortly.

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