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The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government recognise that climate change is one of the most serious challenges facing the world today, and helping all sectors of the economy address this challenge is a key priority. The livestock sector makes a significant contribution to UK eating habits as part of a healthy balanced diet, and also sustains traditional landscapes and habitats. The meat and livestock industry recognises that it needs to reduce its environmental impact and is developing a road map to achieve this, which is to be welcomed.
Consumers also have a role to play and want to be able to make informed choices about what they eat. They are less receptive to being told by others what they should eat. Our approach is to support industry efforts to maximise the benefits it delivers and minimise the negative impacts, and to ensure consumers have access to information that they can rely on to make informed choices about their diet and lifestyle.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have regarding compliance by the United Kingdom dairy herd sector with good practice targets, including measures to reduce mastitis, spacious enhancement for herd and clusters, and healthy rumen diet practices. [HL1812]
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The welfare of dairy cattle is the responsibility of their owners and keepers. Animal Health carries out random and targeted visits to dairy farms to check the welfare of the cattle and takes enforcement action where poor welfare is found.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 4 February (WA 117), what is the estimated cost to
17 Mar 2009 : Column WA16
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Detailed information about the cost of implementation in England is provided in the regulatory impact assessment on electronic identification (EID) of sheep and goats. This is available on the Defra website. An updated version will accompany the consultation that is planned for the spring.
We have always taken the view that the cost of implementing EID is disproportionate to the benefits. However, the majority of other member states do not share our concerns. Hilary Benn recently raised these concerns again directly with Commissioner Vassiliou, and will continue to press for further changes to the requirements to help reduce the implementation burdens on our industry. However, EID is an EU obligation which we have to implement from 31 December 2009; failure to do so is likely to result in single farm payment disallowance and EU infraction proceedings.
Independent epidemiological modelling has identified that the introduction of EID and individual recording could reduce costs of managing an outbreak of exotic disease over the current UK system by up to 13 per cent as a result of fewer infected premises and fewer animals being culled. It will also improve our ability to track individual animal movements. There will also be management benefits for those farmers who want to make use of EID and gather individual performance data to make their businesses more profitable.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The following table shows the number of Congolese asylum cases, including dependants, who were removed or departed voluntarily from the United Kingdom between 2005 and 2008.
Published statistics on immigration and asylum are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate website at www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats.html.
|Removals and voluntary departures (1) ofasylum cases (2), by type, nationals of Congo, January 2005 to December 2008|
|Number of departures (3)|
|Year||2005||2006||2007 (P)||2008 (P)|
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish their review of the situation of Zimbabwean asylum seekers unable to enter or leave the United Kingdom, as foreshadowed by the Prime Minister in July 2008. [HL736]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Following the recent Asylum and Immigration Tribunal country guidance judgment, all cases are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Those asylum seekers deemed to need protection will be granted it.
Where the independent courts have confirmed that it is safe for an individual to return home we do not consider that it is right to ask the UK taxpayer to support them. Instead we expect those not at risk to return home, and hundreds of Zimbabweans have done so since we halted enforced returns in September 2006.
Published statistics on immigration and asylum are available from the Library of the House and from the Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate website at www. homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration-asylum-stats.html.
|Removals and voluntary departures(1) of asylum cases(2), by type, nationals of Zimbabwe, January 2005 to December 2008|
|Number of departures (3)|
|Year||2005||2006||2007 (P)||2008 (P)|
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Statutory controls for Varroa were removed in 2006 following public consultation as the pest had become endemic throughout most of mainland UK. Varroa remains a serious problem for beekeepers but it can be kept under control with appropriate treatments and hive management techniques. The National Bee Unit provides written material on Varroa management (available on its Beebase website) and issues advice to beekeepers both through comprehensive training sessions on effective management of Varroa and when visiting individual beekeepers. The future management of this pest is addressed in a new 10-year plan to protect and improve the health of honey bees in England and Wales.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will provide additional resources for training bee inspectors; and what steps they are taking to support the Bee Farmers' Association and the British Beekeepers' Association in protecting the welfare of bees. [HL1951]
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: In order to implement the first stage of a 10-year plan to improve and protect the health of honey bees in England and Wales, additional resources have been added to the existing programme budget of £1.3 million pa, a further £1.137 million in 2009-10 and £1.158 million in 2010-11. Additional inspectors are being recruited to help with implementation and they will receive the same comprehensive training programme as existing inspectors, using some of the additional resources.
Beekeeping groups are supported in their work under the bee health programme undertaken by Defra's National Bee Unit, which provides a free advisory and inspection service as well as a substantial training and education programme, available free of charge to all beekeepers.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Beekeepers registered on the National Bee Unit's Beebase database can request a free apiary inspection visit from their local bee inspector and receive information and advice on disease recognition and control. Registration is free of charge.
The Secretary of State recently announced additional funding of £2.3 million to support implementation of the initial phase of a 10-year plan to improve and protect the health of honey bees in England and Wales. One aim is to gain a more accurate picture of the numbers and distribution of beekeepers and the status of the health of their colonies and increase significantly the proportion of beekeepers registered on Beebase.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Varroa mite has spread to most areas of the world where honey bees (Apis mellifera)are kept and it is present on all continents except Australia. Therefore current efforts are focused on developing effective control methods to keep mite numbers below levels that are harmful to honey bee colonies. The UK participates in the COLOSS project, an international network for exchange of information on colony losses. Investigating the effects of varroa is an important part of this work.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Cabinet Office (Baroness Vadera): The Government fully understand recent concerns over high interest rates that some lenders charge. We secured agreement from credit card lenders to develop fair principles for any interest rate increase they introduce on reviewing an individual's account. These came into force in January 2009 and provide extra protections when a customers or group of customers interest rate is changed as a result of a perceived change in their ability to repay their debts. The Government have also implemented a number of measures to provide vulnerable and low-income consumers with access to affordable credit and free debt advice.
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