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10 Jun 2008 : Column WA89



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Written Answers

Tuesday 10 June 2008

Agriculture: Sheep

Lord Vinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Sheep carcasses must be disposed of in accordance with the animal by-products regulations. These require either direct incineration or rendering followed by incineration or landfill.

Lambing can be a source of environmental contamination, as infectivity has been detected in the foetal membranes. However, farmers are obliged under the animal by-products regulations to collect these membranes and dispose of them as category 2 animal by-products in order to reduce the risks presented by transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and other animal diseases. Burial is not a permitted disposal route for this material.

Agriculture: Sheep Dips

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Australian Government's suspension of the diazinon sheep dip and spray products was based on the evidence reported in the second part of a preliminary review of diazinon, published in June 2006 by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) assessed the Australian preliminary report in relation to veterinary medicinal uses of diazinon. It concluded that the report contains nothing to suggest diazinon sheep dips should be banned in the UK. The Veterinary Products Committee (VPC) and the Medical and Scientific Panel (MSP) reviewed the APVMA documents and commented on the VMD report and its conclusions. Both independent committees agreed with the analysis provided by the VMD.



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The primary reasons to conclude that the APVMA's review gave no reason to change UK government policy on OP sheep dips were:

acceptable daily intake (ADI) for diazinon—concern was raised that the authors of the report had added an additional uncertainty factor into both the internationally accepted ADI and their margin of exposure determinations and had based their conclusions on the reduced numbers. It was felt that the extra uncertainty factor was not justified and that the standard internationally agreed default values should have been used;differences in personal protective equipment (PPE)—there are significant differences in the PPE required in Australia and the UK. In particular, PPE for the torso and legs differs significantly. In Australia, this consists of cotton overalls and water-resistant footwear/boots. The UK requirements are a boiler suit and bib-apron or waterproof coat, and waterproof trousers/leggings worn over Wellington boots. The report does not include sufficient detail to make an estimate of differences of total body exposure due to these differences in PPE;extrapolation of experimental data—the Australian study was conducted by exposing workers to the various application methods by treating 50 sheep. This exposure was then extrapolated to a total of 2,000 sheep for dipping and 500 for jetting (assuming a linear relationship for exposure). This extrapolation in itself brings a degree of uncertainty into the final results;application methods—the report gives no specific detail of the methods used to apply the diazinon in the study. Therefore, it is not clear if additional worker protection such as splash guards around dips and races were used as required in the UK; and closed transfer systemone critical difference was that in 2000 in the UK the sheep dip packaging was redesigned to prevent operators being exposed to the concentrated product.

All of these comments were passed back to the AVPMA in response to its public consultation on its diazinon review.

The Government are and always will be guided by the best scientific advice. The MSP is tasked with the responsibility of continually looking at scientific papers worldwide and advising the VPC of appropriate action. The VPC has recently confirmed its advice that there is no reason currently to take any additional regulatory action on these products, provided they are used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

Animal Welfare: Badgers and Foxes

Lord Tyler asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): There have been no licences issued, by Natural England, to transfer badgers or foxes to Cornwall from other areas of the country.

Banking: Debts

Lord Barnett asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Financial Services Authority is responsible for supervising financial services activities in the UK under the powers granted to it in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.

Lord Barnett asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Financial Services Authority is responsible for supervising financial services activities in the UK under the powers granted to it in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.

Broadcasting: Digital Radio

Lord Wallace of Tankerness asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: Extending coverage is a matter for broadcasters. Section 67 of the Broadcasting Act 1996 requires the Secretary of State to keep under review the development of digital radio for the purpose of considering how long it would be appropriate for sound broadcasting services to continue to be provided in analogue form. The last review was carried out in 2004 and concluded it was too early to consider switchover.

However, in November 2007, the then Secretary of State, the right honourable Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (James Purnell), established an independently chaired Digital Radio Working Group to look at the barriers to digital radio listening including coverage. The group will report by the end of this year.

Budget: Energy Products

Lord Barnett asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Lord Davies of Oldham: The full impact of higher oil and gas prices on tax revenues will depend on their effect on the economy as a whole.

Higher oil prices generate greater receipts from both North Sea corporation tax and petroleum revenue tax but there are a number of offsetting effects that limit the overall impact on the public finances. These include the impact of temporarily higher inflation on the indexation of tax allowances and social security benefits, the impact from lower demand for fuel on fuel duties and repercussions on other consumption and expenditure taxes and that higher oil costs could affect the profits of other companies.

Updated forecasts will be published in the Pre-Budget Report later this year.

Freedom of Information

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Treasury has been able to identify only one FOI request it has received from the TaxPayers' Alliance. This was answered within the cost ceiling established under the Act, which for departments is £600.

Health: MRSA

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The routine use of antimicrobial in animal feeds stopped in January 2006 when antimicrobial growth promoters were banned in Europe. However, the Government take the occurrence of antimicrobial resistant bacteria in farmed animals very seriously and currently spend £1 million per annum on research to investigate the issue.

Recent surveillance in cattle has not detected the presence of MRSA and the current UK survey of MRSA in breeding pigs, which commenced in January 2008 and is due to finish in December 2008, has identified no MRSA to date. This is being carried out under Community legislation. It is anticipated that the results of this study will be published in mid-2009 and that they will inform the direction of future research. As a result there are currently no plans to increase the research into the development of MRSA in farmed animals. Nevertheless this will be kept under review.

In 2005 the MRSA Sub-Group of the Defra Antimicrobial Resistance Co-Ordination (DARC) Group was created, through which Defra is assisting and

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encouraging various initiatives relating to MRSA from the Bella Moss Foundation (a UK-registered charity promoting awareness of MRSA in animals), industry and the veterinary profession. Defra has funded research to better understand the epidemiology of MRSA in companion animals and livestock and any role it may play in human infections.

Israel and Palestine: Bedouin

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We continue to raise the issue of human rights for all Palestinians with the Israeli Government on a regular basis. While we have not specifically raised the issue of unrecognised Bedouin villages in recent months, we do remain concerned about the issue and plight of the Bedouin people, including standards of health and education. We will continue to raise our concerns with Israeli contacts.

Local Government

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The new local government performance framework was introduced in April 2008 and creates a framework for managing local government performance. At its heart is the national indicator set comprising 199 indicators, including “NI 197 improved local biodiversity—active management of local sites”. All local authorities will report on their performance against all 199 indicators.

Local area agreements (LAAs) are three-year performance management agreements between central and local government on up to 35 of the national indicators where there are particular performance issues or opportunities. Negotiations through government offices are due to be concluded with 150 upper tier authorities by the end of June 2008. A number of localities have chosen NI 197 as an improvement indicator.

Local government performance will be assessed through a new comprehensive area assessment inspection regime to be introduced in April 2009 through the Audit Commission. This replaces comprehensive performance assessment and will dovetail with the

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work of other inspectorates into one overall approach. Details of the assessment process are subject to consultation, but it is likely to focus on the national indicators selected in each LAA. The performance of other national indicators may form part of the assessment where there is a risk to delivery.

National indicator NI 197 measures the performance of local authorities for biodiversity by assessing the implementation of positive conservation management of local sites and consequently their wider performance for biodiversity (in turn contributing to wider environmental quality).

The indicator does not measure the biodiversity duty (NERC Act 2006) which requires all public authorities, including local authorities, to have regard to biodiversity as far as is consistent with the proper exercise of their functions. Nevertheless, successfully to improve a local site system and the management of local sites will require local government to deliver many of the themes articulated in the duty.

The joint area review (JAR) is a three-year programme running until December 2008. All 150 upper tier local authority areas will be reviewed to judge the contribution that the council and its partners in the local area are making to improve outcomes for children and young people. As such, the statutory provisions for biodiversity and nature conservation will not form part of this review.

Northern Ireland Office: Departmental Review

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The printing cost of the Northern Ireland 2008 departmental report (Cm 7405) was £12,870.

Northern Ireland: Bill of Rights

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The costs of Chris Sidoti's travel to Northern Ireland are outlined in my previous Answers of 26 March (Official Report, col. WA 96), and 24 April (Official Report, col. WA 316).


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