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Scottish Water

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what channels of communication she will have with the Water Industry Commissioner for Scotland after the formation of Scottish Water. [22788]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 13 December 2001]: The water and sewerage service in Scotland is a devolved responsibility of the Scottish Executive. The Executive will write to the hon. Member about the lines of responsibility between itself and Scottish Water.

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what responsibility her Department will have concerning the level of water bills in Scotland after the formation of Scottish Water; [22787]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 13 December 2001]: None. The water and sewerage service in Scotland is a devolved responsibility of the Scottish Executive.

Tuberculosis

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the number of all categories of staff devoted to tuberculosis in cattle will be returned to their pre foot and mouth levels (a) in total and (b) in Gloucestershire; what the percentage drop was in each case between February and the latest month for which figures are available; what effect this will have on the projected date for publishing the results of the Krebs Trials; and when that is estimated to be. [22844R]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 13 December 2001]: It is not yet possible to give a firm date when all the staff resource that used to be applied to TB testing can be restored to pre foot and mouth disease (FMD) levels. This depends on developments in FMD and post FMD controls.

Overall the percentage drop from February to October 2001 was: for SVS and LVIs 81 per cent.; for TVIs 87 per cent. and for administrators 53 per cent. This

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reflects the fact that many veterinarians were still heavily involved in FMD controls and movement licensing in October.

The equivalent percentage drops for the Gloucester Animal Health Office were: for SVS and LVIs 97 per cent.; for TVIs 90 per cent. and for administrators 70 per cent. This reflects the fact that the area covered by these staff was more heavily and more persistently affected by FMD and that FMD-free status was only gained by mid-October.

The Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG) overseas the field trial. Prior to the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak, the ISG advised in its second report that firm scientific data were likely to be available to inform policy by 2004. The group has indicated that the FMD emergency might delay this timetable by a calendar year.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research has been commissioned into finding a vaccine for tuberculosis in cattle; what plans there are to increase Departmental spending in this area; and what progress has been made in finding such a vaccine. [22846R]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 13 December 2001]: In 1999, one three-year and three five-year research projects for finding a vaccine for TB in cattle were commissioned by MAFF at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency and at the Institute of Animal Health. £1.2 million funding is being provided by DEFRA in this area each year up to 2004. The key objectives of the research are to produce live candidate vaccines, to develop a test to differentiate vaccinated animals from infected animals and to evaluate the vaccine candidates in the host species. The Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG) is undertaking a detailed study of vaccine development and their potential use. In its third report the ISG advised that vaccines in either cattle or badgers remains a potential policy option although likely to offer prospects only in a long-term context. Nevertheless, research into vaccines remains an important element in the strategy to control TB in cattle and will receive funding accordingly.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cases of tuberculosis in cattle have been reported in (a) 1999, (b) 2000 and (c) each month this year. [22847R]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 13 December 2001]: In 1999 a total of 6,772 cattle were slaughtered under TB control measures. This rose to 8,355 cattle in 2000.

Raw data on TB incidents in the months of 2001 have not yet been subject to quality control and statistics for each month are not yet available. Raw data indicate that so far some 900 tuberculin reactor cattle have been identified.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the geographical spread of tuberculosis in cattle in the last three years. [22845R]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 13 December 2001]: Over the last three years the rise in bovine TB incidents in cattle in England has generally been contained to the south and west. In descending order the areas with the highest confirmed incidence are Gloucestershire, Hereford

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and Worcestershire, Wiltshire, Avon, Cornwall and Devon. Generally, within this area the number of TB incidents has continued to increase year on year.

Outside these higher incidence areas we are closely monitoring bovine TB incidence in the areas of Shropshire, Staffordshire and Dorset.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the resumption of (a) full road traffic survey and testing of dead badgers and (b) full scale TB99 questionnaire forms will take place. [22848R]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 13 December 2001]: Work on the road traffic accident (RTA) survey of badger carcases and the TB99 survey was suspended earlier this year due to the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak. Plans to restart the work are currently being considered and, as staff return to normal duties, it is hoped to do so early in the new year. An exact date for the resumption of the surveys cannot be given at present.

Agriculture Select Committee

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if the financial projections contained in Annexe A of the Government's response to the Agriculture Select Committee, Session 2000–01, HC 92, have changed. [22849R]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 13 December 2001]: The estimates for expenditure on tackling TB in cattle contained in the Government response for the years 2002–03 and 2003–04 remain unchanged.

Outturn figures for 2000–01, when they become available, are likely to show a reduction in expenditure on TB, due to diversion of veterinary resource to deal with the classical swine fever and foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreaks. The outturn figures for 2001–02, when they become available, will almost certainly show a more marked reduction because of the diversion of resource to deal with FMD and the length and severity of the outbreak in this financial year.

Mink Farms

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many breeding female mink there were at UK mink farms on 28 February. [23180]

Mr. Morley: In relation to England, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 14 November 2001, Official Report, column 814W.

Fur farming in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales is the responsibility of the devolved Administrations. However, I understand that they currently have no mink farms.

Game Licences

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the number of game licences sold in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. [22397]

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Alun Michael: I am able to provide figures for the last nine years. The figures are:

Number
1992–9343,914
1993–9441,311
1994–9530,872
1995–9625,702
1996–9730,285
1997–9831,939
1998–9931,987
1999–200039,262
2000–0142,310

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if she will list the costs of issuing the game licence for the last year for which figures are available; [22394]

Alun Michael: The costs in the year 2001–02 were £224,792.51. 42,310 game licences were sold in 2000–01. £4,132 was raised net of costs.


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