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Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: If a proposal is brought forward in either House for Water Bill amendments to the provisions in the Water Industry Act 1991 relating to water fluoridation, consideration will be given to whether there should be free vote on the government side. How others may Whip is a matter for them.

Bovine TB Testing

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The State Veterinary Service has made a concerted effort over the last 15 months to reduce the TB testing backlog built up during the foot and mouth disease outbreak. At the end of March this year the number of overdue herd tests had been reduced to just over 4,500, down from 27,000 at the end of 2001. With

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continued co-operation from farmers we hope to have cleared the backlog by the summer.

Non-veterinarians are not permitted under existing legislation to carry out TB testing. However, Defra is planning to consult stakeholders in the summer on proposals to permit specially trained lay-testers to carry out the procedure.

Red Deer: Baronsdown Sanctuary, Exmoor

Lord Kimball asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the investigations by the State Veterinary Service into the health of the red deer on Baronsdown on Exmoor.[HL2903]

Lord Whitty: The Baronsdown Deer Sanctuary was inspected by officials of the State Veterinary Service on 1 April. The detailed findings of the inspection are confidential to the managers of the sanctuary.

Laying Hens

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which countries in the European Union have yet to implement Directive 1997/74/EC on the welfare of laying hens; which of those countries export eggs to the United Kingdom; how much such imports cost, giving figures on an individual basis by country; and whether they will ban all egg imports from European Union countries which have not implemented the directive.[HL2904]

Lord Whitty: The United Kingdom transposed Council Directive 1999/74/EC on the welfare of laying hens, and the Commission was notified of this on 3 September 2002. Information on the level of implementation by other Member States of this directive is not available.

The relative costs of eggs from those member states which have implemented the directive from those which have not cannot therefore be identified. The value of shell eggs imports from other member states for 2002 are listed below.

Member StateValue (£)
Irish Republic367,294

It is the responsibility of each member state to notify the European Commission of the implementation of Council directives and the Commission can take action if a member state fails to implement a directive within the required timescale. Unilateral action by the UK to ban egg imports from member states which have not implemented the directive would be illegal under the single market. Restrictions can only be applied where there is a threat to human, animal or plant health in the importing country.

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LEADER+ Programme

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Press Release 4/02 of 7 January 2002 on the LEADER+ European Community Initiative, whether matched funding from government, which lasts beyond one year, is treated in government accounts as an irrevocable forward spending provision.[HL2906]

Lord Whitty: The England LEADER+ Programme has a budget set out in the programme document which has been endorsed by Ministers and approved by the European Commission for the lifetime of the programme.

There is therefore a commitment for Defra to match-fund this programme at endorsed levels.

Departmental decisions on resource allocation are currently made annually and we expect LEADER+ to receive the required funding via the normal mechanism.

Although there is therefore a ministerial commitment to fund the LEADER+ Programme, this does not technically constitute an "irrevocable forward spending provision."

Marine Protected Areas

Lord Hunt of Chesterton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Given that the required legislation is not yet in place, what the calendar will be for the implementation of the recommendations of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development on marine protected areas for the United Kingdom's exclusive economic zone.[HL2961]

Lord Whitty: While the United Kingdom has not declared an Exclusive Economic Zone, this does not affect the rights that the UK may assume as a coastal state in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, including an obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment.

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The UK played a leading role at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in securing a package of challenging international commitments on marine issues, including a commitment to establish networks of marine protected areas by 2012. The main mechanism for meeting this commitment within UK waters will be the designation of Natura 2000 sites offshore, under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives. My department will shortly be issuing a consultation document on extending the provisions of these directives to offshore waters, which will provide the legal basis for the designation of sites. I expect the first site to be designated before the end of the year.

Work on identification and protection of marine protected areas is also being undertaken within the OSPAR Convention, having regard to the commitment under the North Sea Conference to establish a network of sites in the North Sea by 2010.

Legislative mechanisms are being considered within the framework of the Defra-sponsored Review of Marine Nature Conservation and its associated Regional Seas Pilot Project in the Irish Sea. This is likely to conclude in early 2004.

Dairy Cows: Producer Support Estimate

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will set out the statistical basis for the statement made in the House of Lords on 14 May by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: "We subsidise every cow in Europe to the tune of two dollars a day" (HL Deb, col. 291); whether this figure also applies to the United Kingdom; if not, what would be the appropriate figure for the United Kingdom; and whether they will set out the statistical basis for the figure which does apply to the United Kingdom.[HL2980]

Lord Whitty: The quoted figure is based on the latest Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Producer Support Estimate (PSE) for 2000 of 16.8 billion US dollars for the dairy sector. In 2000 there were estimated to be 20.7 million dairy cows suggesting support in 2000 of 2.22 or 2.04 US dollars per cow per day.

The PSE is an internationally respected measure of the annual monetary value of gross transfer at the farm gate from consumers (through prices higher than world levels) and taxpayers (through direct support) arising from policy measures that support agricultural production.

Using the same methodology, but looking at the UK in 2000 suggests a support figure per dairy cow of around 1.60 US dollars. This lower UK figure is a consequence of particularly low prices in the UK compared with the EU as a whole in 2000, following a sharp appreciation of sterling against the euro.

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