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Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The regulation of telecoms operators is a matter for Oftel. I understand that in December 2002 Oftel published a statement setting out its conclusions in relation to revised guidelines on removal of telephone boxes. Oftel has received a number of representations in recent weeks about the removal of telephone boxes in rural areas and is discussing them with BT.

Olympic Games

Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone): The Government assessment on whether they should bid to host the Olympic Games has included an analysis of the impact of the Games in other Olympic cities. This has included the Games held in Munich 1972 and Atlanta 1996, where there was bloodshed, and Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984, which were subject to boycotts. The Government have also assessed the new criteria issued by the International Olympic Committee on the current rules of conduct applicable to cities wishing to organise the Olympic Games. The Government recognise that we face dangers in staging major events and that security consideration are of great importance.

National Scrapie Plan

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): Since the launch of the voluntary National Scrapie Plan, up to the 13 February 2003, a total of 352,753 sheep in 8,685 flocks have been genotyped. This includes 21,710 in 866 flocks tested as part of a survey of rare breed genotypes (for which there are no culling requirements). Under the terms of the plan's ram genotyping schemes, NSP members with rams carrying one or two copies of the scrapie susceptible VRQ allele, have agreed that under normal circumstances these rams will be slaughtered or otherwise prevented breeding by castration or vasectomy. Instructions to slaughter or castrate 8,112 rams have so far been dispatched, of which confirmation of slaughter or castration has been received for 5,956. The remainder are either ram lambs that are being fattened for slaughter, or rams (with 1 VRQ allele) that are being used by agreement with the flock owner in controlled breeding programmes because there is a particularly low level of resistance conferring genotypes in the flock, or rams that are subject to a reminder instruction to slaughter. The number of rams by breed for which confirmation of slaughter/castration has been received is as follows:

Sheep Breed Confirmation of slaughter/castration (as at 13 February 2003)
Badger Faced Welsh Mountain21
Beulah Speckled Face115
Black Welsh Mountain73
Bleu du Maine58
Bluefaced Leicester44
Border Leicester136
Brecknock Hill Cheviot103
British Inra 4012
Clun Forrest6
Derbyshire Gritstone26
Devon Closewool14
Dorest Horn & Poll Dorset186
Dorset Down1
Exmoor Horn24
Greyfaced Dartmoor17
Hampshire Down1
Hill Radnor6
Ile De France12
Kerry Hill1
Leicester Longwool8
Lincoln Longwool5
North Country Cheviot762
Rouge de L'Ouest21
Rough Fell10
South Wales Mountain96
Welsh Hill Speckled Face65
Welsh Mountain56
Welsh Mountain523
White Face Dartmoor4
White Faced Woodland1
Wiltshire Horn69

Pest Control: Use of Dogs

Earl Peel asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: On 25 February, the Standing Committee in another place added a clause to the Hunting Bill which would prevent the registration of hunting in respect of any hunting that involves the use of a dog below ground. My right honourable friend the Minister for Rural Affairs made it clear that the Government would bring forward amendments at a later stage of the Bill to meet the legitimate needs of gamekeepers, in particular to use dogs underground in certain specified circumstances and subject to conditions designed to prevent unnecessary suffering. His remarks were warmly welcomed by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation. My right honourable friend is considering the details of the amendments at the moment and will have regard to the concerns which underlie the noble Earl's questions.

Beef Special Premium Scheme

The Earl of Caithness asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The Rural Payments Agency does not have data relating solely to the Beef Special Premium Scheme. However, it is estimated that producers made 20,000 representations in 2002 in relation to all bovine subsidy claims because the British Cattle Movement Service records differed from those held by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. This represents 7 per cent of the total bovine subsidy claims received.

Cattle Movements

The Earl of Caithness asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty The British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) scans, records and interprets all movement cards received immediately. This can be up to 45,000 cards per day. No loss of cards has been detected by the BCMS. The Post Office has informed us that its loss rate is one in 100,000 documents sent to the BCMS.

The Earl of Caithness asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: Keepers who send movement information to the British Cattle Movement Service through its website can see that a transaction has been recorded by revisiting the site the next day. Those who send movement data through the bulk e-mail system will receive a file receipt notification from BCMS for every file they send.

The barrier to the issue of a receipt for each movement card received by the BCMS is cost. With up to 48,000 movement cards received in a single day last year the logistics of producing and despatching receipts for them all are daunting. With the waiver to industry bearing the full cost of the BCMS services due to expire on 31 March 2004, the cost of the production of receipts (manpower, materials and postage) would be passed directly to industry. The cost could be over £10,000 per day, just for receipts.

Assured Chicken Production Scheme

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: Assured Chicken Production is an independent company that owns and develops the Assured Chicken Production Scheme (ACP) standards for poultry. Members of the company are British Retail Council, British Poultry Council (BPC) and the National Farmers' Unions of England and Wales. Decisions about the standards for this scheme are taken by ACP's technical advisory committee, not by the Government.

Zootechnical Feed Additives: Ionophores

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: Zootechnical feed additives, including those containing ionophores, are centrally authorised under Council Directive 70/524/EEC for use in all EU member states. Applications for authorisations are individually assessed by the Standing Committee for Food Chain and Animal Health (Animal Nutrition) against a set of scientific criteria to assure their safety, quality and efficacy. This committee is chaired by the European Commission and includes representatives from all EU member states. UK representatives include officials from the Food Standards Agency as well as the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Dimetridazole and Narasin are no longer authorised for use as zootechnical feed additives for food producing animals.

In March 2001 the Veterinary Residues Committee (VRC) established a sub-group to look at the risks from residues of medicinal and zootechnical feed additives (including ionophores) in meat and other food products. This sub-group has not yet provided any advice to government on these issues.

Drift Net Fishing

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: In their formal response to the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Review Group report, the Government announced they would provide up to £750,000, subject to match funding from private interests, towards the voluntary buy-out of mixed stock salmon drift net fisheries in England. Efforts are focusing on the largest of these that fish off the north-east coast of England.

Constructive negotiations between the drift netsmen and conservation and riparian interests, assisted by the Environment Agency and Defra, are ongoing.

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: No formal discussions have been held with the Irish Government about drift netting in Irish waters.

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