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Written Answers

Thursday 3 April 2008

Agriculture: Disease Testing

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): It is government policy that regulatory and approval regimes should be cost-neutral and that regulatory bodies charge appropriate fees.

Prior to the revision of fees in 2005, no fees relating to the approval mechanism had been revised since 1991. It was proposed that the fees Order would be revised to start to recover the fees for testing. Since 2005, the price for each of the tests charged by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency has been revised and is based on the actual hours needed to perform the test by graded staff, together with the materials used: that is, the full economic cost. The prices reflect the complexity of the tests and difficulty of the methodologies.

The Institute for Animal Health (IAH) is the only laboratory in the UK equipped to undertake efficacy testing of disinfectants against foot and mouth disease and swine vesicular disease testing. The IAH is also now required to recover the full economic cost of the testing service they provide. This has resulted in them needing to revise their fees, something they have not needed to do since 2005.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: It is government policy that regulatory and approval regimes are cost-neutral and that regulatory bodies charge appropriate fees. It is not considered appropriate for Defra and the taxpayer to subsidise the mechanism when manufacturers in industry benefit from the sale of their products.

Prior to the revision of fees in 2005, no fees relating to the approval mechanism had been revised since 1991. This had resulted in a growing disparity between what Defra was allowed to charge under the Order and the actual costs incurred.



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In 2004, industry were informed of the proposal that the fees would be revised to start to recover the costs for testing and that fees would be revised to recover the administrative cost later. Defra did not increase the administrative fee for the approval mechanism when testing fees were reviewed. This was because a fundamental overhaul of the approval process was planned and is now complete.

Agriculture: Disinfectants

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): There are almost 200 veterinary disinfectant products which are approved for use under the Swine Vesicular Disease Order, and 200 approved for use under the Foot and Mouth Disease Order. Therefore, there is no immediate need for new disinfectants to deal with outbreaks of either disease.

A full list of approved disinfectants can be found on the Defra website.

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): The Animal Health Agency has a business reform programme which will replace the core systems supporting disease emergencies. It also has a livestock partnership programme that is aimed at addressing the systems supporting identification and movement of livestock. These programmes will provide integrated solutions. The Foot and Mouth Review 2007, chaired by Dr lain Anderson, sets out these plans for changes to the systems used to support disease outbreaks under the Future Ssystems heading on page 72 of the report and supports the approach being taken. The report can be found on the Cabinet Office website.



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Armed Forces: Bowman

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): 11,820 land platforms have been converted. It is anticipated that all legacy land platforms that can practicably be converted will have been fitted with Bowman by the end of 2008. This includes platforms that are being used operationally.

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: The implementation of Bowman Combat Infrastructure Platform 5 began in February 2008 with the uplift of naval vessels.

Armed Forces: Director of Service Prosecutions

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Attorney-General (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Clause 2 of the draft Constitutional Renewal Bill relates only to the directors subject to statutory superintendence by the Attorney-General, which is not the case with the Director of Service Prosecutions. It is intended that the Attorney-General's general superintendence of service prosecuting authorities on a non-statutory basis will continue. The proposed power in Clause 12 to give a direction not to prosecute where this is necessary to safeguard national security, will apply to all prosecutors.

Armed Forces: Future Rapid Effects System

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The competition to select the utility vehicle integrator is at the pre-qualification stage. Pre-qualification questionnaires were released to industry in October 2007. Assessment of the responses from industry is complete and the results are being considered.

In November 2007 the MoD announced that the utility vehicle trials had resulted in a recommendation being made, based primarily on technical design considerations. Further work was then undertaken to consider the commercial implications of the three competing designs.

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: The acquisition strategy for future phases of the Future Rapid Effects System programme, including an assessment of the scope for and benefits of international collaboration, will be approved when the main investment decisions of the respective vehicle families are made.

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: Our aim is to achieve the earliest possible delivery to the Army of a FRES capability that will meet its needs through life, at best value for money. To achieve this we continue to drive the implementation of the FRES acquisition strategy. The approved approach is to establish an alliance led by the department, which will be supported by a strong and independent industrial player acting in the role of System of Systems Integrator (SOSI), delivering a coherent, through life FRES capability.

The strategy includes a strong competitive element, with the SOSI (Thales/Boeing), the vehicle design and the vehicle integrator all selected by competition. Further competitions will select the designs for other specialist variants.

Aviation: Air Quality

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government do not want anyone travelling by air to be at risk of their health. We are leading research in this area in response to the House of Lords Science and Technology inquiry into Air Travel and Health (update report published in December 2007) and the evidence review by the Committee on Toxicity (published in September 2007).



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We have commissioned a world first research project to try to capture substances released during transient “fume events.” The first stage of this work was to identify and test equipment capable of sampling cabin air. The report into this first stage work was published by Cranfield University on 21 February after peer review. It is published on the department's website. The next phase of work is to use the equipment identified to capture real-time fume events; this work is being developed as a priority.

Badgers and Bovine Tuberculosis

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Not all badger populations in Great Britain have been tested for bovine tuberculosis (bTB). However, evidence of Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) infection was found in all randomised badger culling trial (RBCT) areas (where culling meant there were carcasses that could be tested), namely: Gloucestershire/Herefordshire, Cornwall/Devon, East Cornwall, Herefordshire, North Wiltshire, West Cornwall, Derbyshire/Staffordshire, Devon/Somerset, Gloucestershire and Devon. The prevalence of infection on initial culls was higher in the inner regions of proactive treatment areas (2km or more inside the boundary) than in the outer areas, which is not surprising as trial areas were centred on areas of high bTB risk.

The results of Defra’s Road Traffic Accident survey, carried out in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire between 2002 and 2005, showed badger populations in all of the counties sampled were affected by bTB to some degree. On average, M. bovis was detected in 15 per cent of badger carcasses ie around one in seven. This is similar to that recorded in proactively culled badgers in the RBCT during the same time period (16.6 per cent). An extended post-mortem examination carried out on a sample of 205 RBCT badgers revealed substantially more infected animals, approximately double, than did standard post-mortem examination. Therefore, these prevalence values are likely to be underestimates.

Belfast Agreement: Offences Against the State Acts

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Lord Rooker: No representations have been made in relation to the review conducted by the Irish Government of their Offences Against the State Acts 1939-85.

Children: Protection Orders

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Lord Adonis): On 31 March 2007 there were 30 children looked after by English local authorities who were subject to an emergency protection order. The number of children looked after under an emergency protection order at 31 March over the last five years has remained fairly constant, ranging from 70 to 30.

Commonwealth

Lord Luce asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is the lead department for the Commonwealth. In addition, a number of other government departments deal with aspects of the UK's policy on the Commonwealth. These include the Department for International Development (DfID), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR). At the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala officials from the FCO, DfID, Defra and BERR supported Ministers.

Within the FCO, the International Organisations Department leads on issues relating to the Commonwealth as an international organisation.

Computer Systems: Houses of Parliament

Lord Harris of Haringey asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): In the last year, neither the Parliamentary Network nor parliamentary applications or servers that are

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fully managed by PICT have been adversely affected by any malicious programs. Any viruses detected are quarantined or removed by anti-virus software. Since January there have been 79 instances logged when single machines appeared to have been infected by malware but these incidents were contained on the individual machine. The malware was removed as soon as practicably possible.


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