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Waterways (Freight)

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what policies she has for maximising the use of inland waterways for (a) carriage of freight, (b) leisure and (c) tourism. [19532]

Mr. Meacher: The Government's policies for the inland waterways are set out in the publication "Waterways for Tomorrow", published in June 2000, copies of which are available in the Library. The Government want to promote a modern, integrated and sustainable approach to the use of inland waterways. This includes greater carriage of freight, when this is practical, economic and environmentally desirable, and to encourage people to make more use of the waterways for leisure and tourism.


Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects the national flock to be free of scrapie; and if she will make a statement. [19602]

Mr. Morley: The elimination of scrapie from the national flock is the objective of the national scrapie plan for Great Britain which I launched in July. Modelling work undertaken early last year suggested that it would be possible to have a significant increase in the resistance of the national flock within 10 years. We are currently updating the model to reflect current information, including the level of actual uptake under the plan. We will then be taking the views of stakeholders on what would be an appropriate target date, or dates, to work towards for the achievement of a scrapie-resistant sheep flock. The Animal Health Bill currently before Parliament would give the Government the ability to underpin a target date by using compulsory genotyping powers.

Age Discrimination

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her Department's policy towards people working after the age of 65 years; and how many such people are so employed (a) by her Department and (b) on a sub-contracted basis. [19904]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 30 November 2001]: The Department's maximum age of retirement for staff of all grades is 65. Exceptionally staff may be retained beyond that age, for a short period, where it is essential to meet business needs. Two such staff are currently employed.

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In addition, records show that 110 temporary veterinary inspectors aged 65 and over were appointed during the foot and mouth disease emergency.

Departmental contracts for subcontracted work do not specify an age criterion.

Farm Incomes

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 21 November 2001, Official Report, columns 319–20W, on farm incomes, if the (a) total farming, (b) individual, (c) total off-farming and (d) individual off-farming income levels include income from subsidy payments; and what the (i) total income from farming and (ii) total off-farming income was by region in (A) England, (B) Wales and (C) Scotland in each year since 1996. [19238]

Mr. Morley: The figures for farm incomes presented in the answer of 21 November 2001, Official Report, columns 319–20W, included all the subsidies to farming. In addition to that answer, the figures show the total incomes from farming and the average off-farm income per farm in England, Scotland and Wales. These figures will be revised next year to be consistent with the latest UK figures. The total off-farm income is not available at country level.

Total income from farming (TIFF)


Total off farm income per farm


Countryside Stewardship Scheme

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the qualifying

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criteria are for the countryside stewardship scheme; and what assessment she has made of the practicability of the conditions of the scheme with reference to (a) grazing levels and sward height, (b) winter housing of bovine livestock and (c) use of outdoor cattle feeders in winter. [20135]

Alun Michael: The principal qualifying criteria for the countryside stewardship scheme are:

Depending on the scheme options involved, most stewardship agreements include detailed requirements for reduced grazing levels and sward height, and the need to prevent poaching caused by, for instance, the use of outdoor cattle feeders in winter. Full account is taken of individual circumstances when setting these requirements.

The winter housing of bovine livestock is a farm animal welfare issue and not dealt with by the scheme.

Finisher Feed

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what proportion of poultry was slaughtered in the United Kingdom before the withdrawal period for finisher feed was completed in November and December of (a) 1998, (b) 1999 and (c) 2000; [17103]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 23 November 2001]: DEFRA do not collect these statistics. It is the responsibility of producers of livestock destined for the food chain to ensure that the appropriate withdrawal period for a veterinary medicine or feed additive has been observed before slaughter.

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) carries out a large-scale annual residues surveillance programme which fulfils our obligations under EC Directive 96/23.

The results of the programmes for 1998, 1999 and 2000 are fully reported in the VMD's Annual Reports on Surveillance for Veterinary Residues for those years, which are available free of charge from the VMD and are accessible on the VMD's website. The results of the 2001 surveillance programme to date are published in the VMD's quarterly newsletter Medicines Act Veterinary Information Service (MAVIS) and are also regularly updated on the VMD's website in the interests of openness.


Human Rights

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) what progress has been made in implementing the Human Rights Act 1998; [19972]

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Mr. Wills: The Human Rights Act 1998 was brought into full effect on 2 October 2000. Courts, Government Departments and public authorities received written guidance, training and publicity material about the Act. All Departments reviewed their legislation and procedures in the light of the new provisions. In addition, measures were put in place for necessary co-ordination and monitoring across Whitehall. A £1.2 million blitz advertising campaign was mounted last autumn with advertisements in the national, local and ethnic press. A competition for young people, centred on the Act, attracted over 280 entries involving over 1,000 young people. Research showed that awareness among the public of the Act and the fundamental rights it protects nearly doubled during the period of the campaign.

The Human Rights Unit has continued after commencement of the Act, and maintains a dedicated helpdesk and an extensive website. It remains a focal point of knowledge and good practice on human rights. Its activities include presentations at a range of seminars, conferences and training events, as well as providing 'roadshow' training events outside London. The Unit has contributed to the work of the Department for Education and Skills to introduce the subject of citizenship in schools, which will be a part of the national curriculum for secondary schools from September 2002, and is working with other organisations on an ambitious new youth awards scheme directed at all UK schools and youth organisations based on the values of the Human Rights Act. The Unit is currently revising guidance for Whitehall Departments about the Act and, with the Bar Council, the popular Study Guide to the Act. These will be re-issued early in the New Year.

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