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Written Answers

Monday 16 April 2007

Agriculture: BSE

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The cost of testing cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Britain under the EU active surveillance programme, which was introduced in 2001, is shown in the table below.

YearNumber tested*Costs £ million **






















* Numbers tested per calendar year** Costs per financial year*** Latest forecast

These figures include laboratory costs, the costs of Meat Hygiene Service controls in abattoirs and Rural Payments Agency expenditure on the collection, brainstem sampling and disposal of cattle that have died or been killed on farm or in transit (fallen cattle). The costs of testing cattle with clinical signs of BSE are excluded.

The EU Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) Regulation (999/2001) requires the UK to test all fallen cattle aged over 24 months. An amending regulation (1923/2006), which came into force on 19 January 2007, provides for the European Commission and member states to agree either to raise the age limit for testing fallen cattle throughout the EU, or to accept an individual member state’s application to implement an alternative surveillance programme. The latter is dependent on several factors, including the agreement of harmonised criteria against which a proposal from a member state would be assessed.

Defra has asked the European Commission to raise the EU age limit for testing fallen cattle from 24 months. We are also considering how best to present an application for an alternative testing programme for fallen cattle, subject to the UK fulfilling the criteria when they are agreed. No change to the age limit for testing cattle slaughtered for human consumption (from 30 months) is envisaged at this stage.

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Agriculture: Pig and Poultry Producers

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 require an advertisement to be placed in the local press and in the London Gazette, showing that a permit application has been made. A copy of the permit application itself and any permit issued as a result are required by the regulations to be held on the public register maintained by the Environment Agency at its relevant local office. Full details of a holding are not required to be advertised.

Animal Welfare: African Horse Sickness

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): My department is in regular contact with the British Veterinary Association, its equine representative body (the British Equine Veterinary Association) and the horse industry on a range of issues.

We have discussed contingency planning for a range of insect-borne equine diseases, as a consequence of possible environmental changes. Although African horse sickness (AHS) is one such disease, discussions to date have not highlighted it above the general threat of such diseases. The discovery of bluetongue (not a disease of equines) in mainland Europe has raised concerns about a possible AHS incursion, as the vectors for bluetongue and AHS are known to be similar.

Defra is keeping the situation under close review and is pleased that industry bodies are raising awareness of such a disease. Defra expects to continue to work in partnership with BEVA and the industry in this area.

Armed Forces: Bowman

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty’s Government:

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): Work is continuing to determine how best to improve the portability of the Bowman VHF manpack radio, with the current focus on the ancillaries (such as batteries, cabling and carrying system).

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Lord Drayson: The next increment of Bowman combat infrastructure and platform (CIP) capability, due to be fielded next year, is expected to reduce the time taken for the Bowman radio set to “drop in” for inter-crew communications. This improvement will be verified during testing and trialling of the increment.

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Lord Drayson: The Ministry of Defence is working to reduce the total time for data terminals attached to Bowman radio sets to become operational after switch-on. This is being achieved by reducing initialisation time, developing best practice standard operating procedures and delivering appropriate initialisation training.

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Drayson: The frequency-hopping capability afforded by the Bowman VHF radio has been satisfactorily demonstrated. The free channel search mode has been demonstrated within the constraints on use typical to this form of frequency agility.

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Lord Drayson: The Ministry of Defence does not comment on the detail of electronic counter-measures (ECM) capability in order to safeguard the security of our Armed Forces. The interoperability of all systems that operate within the electromagnetic spectrum is an issue under constant review. The ECM capability fielded is world leading.

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty’s Government:

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Lord Drayson: The forecast cost to the department for the delivery of the Bowman military radio system under existing contracts, as reported in the Major Projects Report 2006, is £2.017 billion.

Armed Forces: Clansman

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): A single-source procurement approach was adopted in 1997 when the two competing consortia formed the joint venture company Archer Communications Systems Ltd (ACSL). By July 2000, the Ministry of Defence had lost confidence in ACSL’s proposed solution, removed the company’s preferred-supplier status and launched a fresh competition.

Armed Forces: Medical Treatment

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): We have an absolute duty to the men and women in our Armed Forces, who put themselves in harm's way on our behalf, to provide first-class medical care for them if they are injured. This is precisely what the Defence Medical Services are doing on a daily basis, both on operations overseas and—in partnership with the NHS—back in the UK.

Where concerns are expressed by individual patients about their treatment and care, we address them. Very occasionally, as in any hospital, mistakes can be made. We will, with the NHS authorities, investigate each reported case thoroughly and report back to the patient and his or her family and make sure that any mistake is corrected wherever possible.

When someone is seriously injured, our priority is to ensure that they receive the best possible treatment that is available. Military personnel who sustain a serious physical injury on operations overseas are usually taken to University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHBFT), which includes Selly Oak Hospital, and which is a centre of excellence in the medical care of the types of injuries our casualties sustain. Wherever practicable, military patients are allocated to one of the 12 military consultants who work at the Royal Centre for

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Defence Medicine (RCDM), based at Selly Oak Hospital. However, by far the largest proportion of specialist care is provided by NHS consultant staff, which reflects the range and capabilities of the knowledge, skills and resources the NHS makes available to our patients. Furthermore, RCDM will be moving to the new hospital being built in Birmingham as part of a major investment and will be the largest critical care unit in Europe.

We of course appreciate the importance of our patients continuing to feel part of the military family. We have created a military managed ward (MMW), located in the main body of Selly Oak Hospital, which reached initial operating capability just before Christmas 2006. A combined team of military and civilian personnel provides care for military patients whose clinical condition allows for them to be nursed in this ward.

The MMW currently consists of two six-bedded bays, with access to four additional side isolation rooms, making a potential total of 16 beds, and is part of the 34-bed S4 trauma/orthopaedic ward. The number of beds on the ward is more than sufficient to match the current levels of military casualties needing trauma/orthopaedic care, although, if necessary, further beds can be allocated. There are military managers involved at every level on the MMW, with a military ward manager responsible for all aspects of the military presence on the ward, whether staff or patient issues, and for liaising with appropriate authorities. The military ward manager is assisted by three military deputy ward managers who are responsible for the planning and delivery of patient care to both military and civilian patients, although they primarily focus on military activity. As well as the managers, there are now a further 19 qualified military nurses, and six military health care assistants allocated to ward S4 military nursing staff are now on duty on every shift on the ward, including the night shift. A military nurse team member visits every military patient being treated at a Birmingham hospital at least three times a day.

The MMW is one of several improvements we have recently made to the treatment of military patients. A military surgical consultant has been appointed as the military trauma patient co-ordinator, who liaises with colleagues to provide advice on service issues and ensures that military aspects of their treatment are taken into account. We have enhanced the military community psychiatric support to our patients in the Birmingham area and, in addition, each military patient now has a named military nurse whom he or she can contact at any time on clinical and other issues. Military patients at Selly Oak and elsewhere in the Birmingham area are supported by the work of four welfare officers of the Defence Medical Welfare Service and other welfare organisations.

The creation of the MMW has been welcomed by service chiefs. The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, said in a BBC interview on 13 March 2007: “There is nowhere better in the country, nowhere more expert at polytrauma medicine, than the hospital in Selly Oak. That's why our people are there”.

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Armed Forces: Pensions

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): Mark McGreevy submitted an appeal to the Ministry of Defence Discretionary Awards Appeals Panel on 3 March 2007 concerning his request for an ex gratia payment and therefore it would not be appropriate to comment further. Mr McGreevy has been advised of the procedures and timescales involved.

Armed Forces: Procurement

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): Changes made following the Enabling Acquisition Change report include the involvement of the Defence Management Board in the most significant investment decisions, the addition of the defence commercial director to membership of the department's investment approvals board and the delegation of the approval of the lower value lower risk projects to the new defence equipment and support organisation. Other changes that will be introduced shortly include a more streamlined scrutiny process and, for larger projects, the inclusion of support costs in main gate equipment approvals, independent cost estimates and the requirement to carry out commercial due diligence before contract signature.

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Drayson: The Ministry of Defence manages a wide range of procurement projects and change programmes which can include elements of equipment, estate management and support. All programmes and projects are subject to appropriate scrutiny and are managed and co-ordinated at the appropriate level but, given the scale and diversity of the portfolio, there is no single programme office. The various organisations tasked with managing this portfolio have robust performance

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and risk management arrangements in place with agreed targets which reflect Office of Government Commerce best practice.

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