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7 Jan 2008 : Column WA133



7 Jan 2008 : Column WA133

Written Answers

Monday 7 January 2008

Agriculture: Charges for Residues Sueveillance

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) consults annually on the proposed adjustments to the charges for surveillance of animal foodstuffs for residues of veterinary medicines and unauthorised substances. The charges seek to recover income from the individual sectors to cover the costs of collecting and analysing the samples and operating the programme in accordance with EU requirements.

The charges to the egg industry for the financial year 2007-08 were raised by 6 per cent—not 30 per cent. This reflects an agreement between the VMD and the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC), whereby the BEIC pays the whole charge for the egg industry and collects the money from its members as it judges appropriate. The resulting savings in administrative overheads from charging one body rather than several hundred individual egg packers means that the increases are kept much lower. However, the option of charging the higher amount is retained in the Statutory Instrument in case the agreement with the BEIC ends and the VMD has to resume charging individual businesses.

In respect of charges in general, the VMD noted in its consultation exercise for the 2004-05 financial year that a number of imbalances between sectors had arisen in previous years, be addressed in the following years. This is being done. The VMD is aware of the difficulties faced by the agriculture industry and makes every effort to continually improve the efficiency of the programme. In the forthcoming review of the legislation which needed to governing the surveillance programme the VMD will take every opportunity to press for the programme to move to a more risk-based approach in taking samples.

Agriculture: Foot and Mouth Disease

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Personal exports were permitted between 25 August and 13 September, as the foot and mouth disease (FMD) restrictions only applied to a small area surrounding the initial outbreak. Information concerning the type and quantity of personal exports from Great Britain (GB) is not recorded.

Restrictions (including the personal export ban) on the whole of GB were reinstated on 13 September, following the discovery of further FMD outbreaks.

Agriculture: Zooneses Monitoring

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Under the Zoonoses (Monitoring) Regulations 2007, an inspector means any person appointed to be an inspector for the purposes of these regulations by the Secretary of State or a local authority. This person would not necessarily have to be a veterinary surgeon. Defra ensures that inspectors required to mark any animal, whether for research or as part of a monitoring programme, are properly trained. Most animal marking techniques used in monitoring (such as paint spraying) are non-invasive. A frequently used invasive method, ear tagging, is straightforward and can be performed by farm operators or trained animal health staff. Any use of such methods would need to comply with animal welfare legislation.

To ensure full protection for wild animals, Regulation 6 of the Zoonoses (Monitoring) Regulations 2007 makes Natural England a statutory consultee. Natural England is a non-departmental public body which can advise on the impact of monitoring and survey work on the

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wild animal populations. This includes the practicalities in relation to wild animal control and protection, sampling of animals and application of any marks. Animal welfare would be an important consideration.

Animal Welfare: Deer

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The purpose of Section 6(6) of the Deer Act 1991, introduced by the Regulatory Reform (Deer) (England and Wales) Order 2007 (S.I. 2007/2183) is to provide a defence, in the case of Chinese water deer or muntjac and provided the specified types of rifle and bullet are used, to the offence contained in Section 4(2)(a) of taking, killing or injuring deer by means, inter alia, of a firearm or ammunition described in Schedule 2. Its effect is to specify, as minima, a slightly less powerful rifle and the weight of soft or hollow-nosed bullets that may be used against these smaller types of deer, as compared with those specified for larger types of deer.

Animal Welfare: Squirrels and Birds

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): In fulfilling its statutory role in licensing non-native releases under Section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, Natural England assesses any actual or potential impact on our native species, including songbirds, and the environment.

During 2007 Natural England has licensed the release of up to 250 grey squirrels for the purposes of animal welfare and rehabilitation. These are animals which were originally taken from the wild for treatment, or that were immediately released, at the same location, for example after being entangled in wire netting. On average over a year, around 4,000 grey squirrels are born and die every day, which I hope puts the licensing activity into some perspective.

Any risk to song birds that licensed releases of grey squirrels represents is considered to be negligible.



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Animal Welfare: Wild Birds

Lord Krebs asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The consultation letter accompanying the consultation on the draft Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2008 invites comments on both the draft regulations proposing to add wing-tagging of birds for conservation purposes to the list of exempted procedures, and the impact assessment on this proposal. The intended effect of this amendment is to allow conservationists to continue using the most effective form of identification for birds, often involved in reintroduction programmes.

Since we went to consultation we have been approached to include web-tagging in the list of exempted procedures, and we are now considering this request.

Armed Forces: Accommodation

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence is currently considering the department's estate development plan (EDP).

Armed Forces: Aircraft Carriers

Lord Luke asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): As announced by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence in the other place on 25 July 2007, (Official Report, col. 865),the two new aircraft carriers are expected to enter service in 2014 and 2016.

Armed Forces: Destroyers

Lord Luke asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): We currently have a contract for six Type 45 destroyers and a decision has yet to be made on a further order. The decision and its timing will be based on a range of factors including requirements, affordability, value for money and the wider context of the defence industrial strategy.

Armed Forces: Healthcare

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Royal Centre for Defence Medicine has allocated six rooms in one wing of the hospital for relatives of service personnel who are listed “very seriously ill” or “seriously ill” where relatives can stay while visiting a patient (five accommodation rooms, plus a “quiet room”). Depending on availability, relatives of non-listed patients may also stay in these rooms, but priority is given to the relatives of listed patients. Further accommodation is available on the Selly Oak site in four flats which can be used as family rooms. The flats have benefited from refurbishment funded by the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association.

If there is a medical recommendation that relatives should stay with a patient, the MoD meets travel and subsistence costs for two relatives for an appropriate period. In the absence of a medical recommendation, the individual's unit may still reimburse costs involved in appropriate circumstances.

The Defence Medical Welfare Service and unit welfare officers also play important roles in supporting the families of military patients. Families are assigned a visiting officer, who is trained in this role and will be aware of the families' entitlements, and who acts as the link between them and the service.

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: Working closely with the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, the military managed ward within the S4 trauma/orthopaedic ward at Selly Oak had achieved the desired operational capability by last July. A total of 39 military nurses had been appointed, in addition to NHS civilian

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staff serving on the ward. To strengthen the military presence at Birmingham, a Standing Joint Commander (Medical) and a military ward master for S4 had been appointed. The layout of the ward had been changed to produce a separate 12 bed partitioned area for military patients. Over the previous year military welfare and psychiatric support to all military patients in the Birmingham area had been boosted.

We intend to continue our partnership with the NHS in the development of a military ward in the new Birmingham hospital that will replace Selly Oak from 2010. We are discussing detailed arrangements with the University Hospital Birmingham Trust. The new ward will allow military patients to be nursed together in four-bed units and we intend that the military ethos within the ward will be enhanced. The nurses will be predominantly military, as now, working with civilian NHS counterparts, and they will continue to nurse civilian patients when required. We also intend to have dedicated reception arrangements for visitors to the military ward, and to include rehabilitation facilities within it.

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: The works project to partition off a section of the military-managed ward at Selly Oak to create a clinical focus for military patients was completed last July. Military patients requiring trauma or orthopaedic treatment are generally accommodated together in the partitioned-off section of the military-managed ward when clinically appropriate. On occasions where numbers of injured service personnel have exceeded the number of beds available in the partitioned area, they are accommodated elsewhere on the ward, where they are cared for by the same military and civilian nursing team. Military patients who have different clinical requirements are accommodated on other wards, where they will still receive frequent visits from military nursing staff.

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Baroness Taylor of Bolton: There is no such document relating specifically to the military-managed ward in Selly Oak Hospital. Provision of healthcare to military patients by the University Hospital of Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHBFT) is governed principally by a service level agreement that covers the treatment of all military patients in the trust's hospitals.

The Royal Centre for Defence Medicine has worked in close consultation with UHBFT to develop the full operating capability of the military-managed ward. That capability has been achieved through the work of UHBFT civilian staff and the additional numbers of military staff provided by the department. UHBFT fully understands the special needs of seriously injured military patients and ensures that its staff help to meet those needs.


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