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15 May 2008 : Column WA147



15 May 2008 : Column WA147

Written Answers

Thursday 15 May 2008

Bees

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): There is no specific information on the impact that the large-scale loss of honey bees would have on the economy although it could be significant. The level and nature of the impact would, for example, need to take into account the geographic distribution of the losses, which crops were affected, what measures were taken by beekeepers and crop producers in mitigation, and the result of any interactions with other pollinators.

Farriers' Qualification (European Recognition) Regulations 2008

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): A written consultation on these regulations was launched on 7 November 2007 and closed on 19 December 2007 with the Farriers Registration Council (FRC), the Worshipful Company of Farriers, the UK Horse Shoers Union (UKHSU) and the National Association of Farriers, Blacksmiths and Agricultural Engineers. Responses were received from the FRC and the UKHSU. We also consulted regularly during the previous 18 months with the FRC as the regulator and competent authority as concerns farriery.

The consultation paper made it clear that we were not consulting on the principles underlying directive 2005/36/EC. Its main provisions had already been transposed by the European Communities (Recognition of Professional Qualifications) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2781) (“the DIUS regulations”) and came into force on 19 October 2007.

The Farriers' Qualification (European Recognition) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/646) amend the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 to give full effect to the DIUS regulations and to provide for registration of providers of temporary farriery services so that the Farriers Registration Council can regulate them.



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Concerns were raised during the consultation exercise that the directive's provisions, as concerns the freedom to provide services on a temporary and occasional basis, undermine the standards of farriery in the UK and threaten animal welfare. However, the provisions that determine whether a farrier from another EU member state is eligible to provide temporary services are covered by the DIUS regulations. DIUS consulted with the Farriers Registration Council on these regulations.

Regarding the Farriers Qualifications (European Recognition) Regulations, some concern was expressed about the value of registering temporary services providers because it was thought they could escape disciplinary proceedings in this country by returning to their home country or another EU country. However, the directive imposes an obligation on competent authorities to exchange information about disciplinary action taken with each other, which provides a safeguard against this. The Farriers Registration Council agreed that registration of temporary providers of farriery was the most appropriate way of managing them.

In response to concerns raised, Defra explained that anything that stems from the wording of the directive is not amenable to mitigation, and cannot be changed. We also explained that the UK must transpose the directive in a way which is compatible with principles of EU law as derived from the treaty and case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: These regulations are necessary in order to fully implement directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications. Article 63 of directive 2005/36/EC imposes an obligation on EU member states to bring into force laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the directive.

The purpose of directive 2005/36/EC is to make it easier for qualified professionals to practise their professions in European countries other than their own by simplifying the recognition procedures. It is a consolidation of a number of existing directives relating to the recognition of professional qualifications including directive 1999/42/EC which previously dealt with farriers and gave rise to amendments to the Farriers (Registration) Act under SI 2002/1597.

The main provisions of the directive were transposed by the European Communities (Recognition of Professional Qualifications) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2781) (“the DIUS regulations”) including provisions concerning farriers, and came into force on 19 October 2007. The DIUS regulations set out the formalities to be followed for access to a wide range of professions in the UK on either a temporary or a permanent basis.



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The Farriers' Qualification (European Recognition) Regulations 2008 amend the Farriers (Registration) Act 1975 to give full effect to the DIUS regulations and to provide for registration of providers of temporary farriery services so that the Farriers Registration Council can regulate them.

Food

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): One of the key objectives under the public sector food procurement initiative (PSFPI) is to increase the consumption of healthy and nutritious food. The Government advise that a healthy balanced diet has plenty of fruit and vegetables (at least five portions of a variety every day); plenty of starchy foods, such as bread, rice, potatoes, and pasta, choosing wholegrain varieties whenever possible; some milk and dairy foods; some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein; and just a small amount of foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar.

The Food Standards Agency has recently published guidance on food served to adults in major institutions and this can be found at www.food.gov.uk /healthiereating/nutritioncommunity/pubinstguide.

More information on the PSFPI is available on Defra's website at www.defra.gov.uk/farm/policy/sustain/procurement/index.htm.

Marine Environment

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The proposed Marine Bill will provide the necessary mechanisms to complete our network of marine protected areas, by allowing marine conservation zones to be designated for features of national importance. These sites, together with existing and new European sites (special areas of conservation and special protection areas), will form a network of marine protected areas in UK waters.

Our nature conservation agencies are in the process of identifying additional inshore special areas of conservation (SAC) in United Kingdom territorial waters. It is expected that their recommendations for possible inshore sites will be made this year. We are committed to completing an ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas by 2012.



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Northern Rock

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: It is for the board of Northern Rock to consider any causes of action that may be open to it.

Pensions: Telephone Costs

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): 0845 numbers are intended to enable customers to contact a centralised service for no more than the cost of a local call when using a landline (although the cost to mobile users does depend on the terms of the package individual users have with their service provider).

The decision to cease the rebate on 0845 numbers from 14 December 2007 has not reduced the cost of calls for our customers as their personal contracts with their respective telecom provider will still apply. The monetary remuneration that the department received from the rebate is with BT. However, the loss of this rebate has been partly offset by other price negotiations with BT to reduce the cost to public funds.

Poverty

Lord Roberts of Conwy asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Our policies are not designed only for those who fall “just below the poverty threshold”. We have pledged to eradicate child poverty by 2020; this requires us to tackle child poverty, whatever its depth, in all countries of the UK.



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Poverty is a complex and multidimensional issue and, as such, there are many possible measures of poverty. While income alone does not provide a wide enough measure of poverty, it is generally accepted that low income is central to any poverty measurement.

The most common and internationally recognised threshold to measure poverty is income below 60 per cent of median. We do not present information covering 40 per cent of median income in our Households Below Average Income series as it is not a sound measure of poverty. This is because households stating the lowest incomes to the Family Resources Survey may not actually have the lowest living standards. Many people who report very low incomes appear to have high spending; hence any statistics on numbers in this group may be misleading.

Specific information regarding low income for the UK is available in Households Below Average Income 1994-95 to 2005-06. This annual report, which is a National Statistics publication, includes the numbers and proportions of individuals, children, working-age adults and pensioners with incomes below 50 per cent, 60 per cent and 70 per cent of median income, and the proportions in persistent poverty.

Information on the number of children and households below 40 per cent of median income is in the tables.

Number (millions) of children in households below 40 per cent of median income, 1997-98 and 2005-06
YearBefore Housing CostsAfter Housing Costs

1997-98 (GB)

0.7

1.4

2005-06 (UK)

0.7

1.3

Source: Family Resources Survey 1997-98, 2005-06
Number (millions) of households below 40 per cent of median income 1997-98 and 2005-06
YearBefore Housing CostsAfter Housing Costs

1997-98 (GB)

1.3

2.1

2005-06 (UK)

1.5

2.3

Source: Family Resources Survey 1997-98, 2005-06

Railways: Franchises

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: It is a condition of franchise agreements that a change of operator can be made only with the consent of the Secretary of State for Transport.

It is open to the Secretary of State to charge a fee in return for granting her consent. The circumstances in which she will expect to do so are set out in the rail franchise change of control policy statement. A copy of the statement is available on the department's website at www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/passenger/franchises/statement.

Roads: A13

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Highways Agency takes litter issues very seriously and continues to monitor the trunk road section of the A13 for litter as part of its route stewardship.

Following its monthly route inspections the agency passes on information about litter accumulation to Thurrock Council. The agency also meets regularly with it where it makes representations about litter on the A13. The last such meeting was on 8 February 2008. The next meeting is scheduled for June 2008.


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