Previous Section Index Home Page


Agricultural Shows

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when she will make an announcement on the exemption of agricultural shows from the 20 day standstill period; [28691]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 18 January 2002]: On 18 December, the Government announced changes to the livestock movement controls which it intends to introduce in February 2002. It is proposed that animals may move to and from shows and from show to show without triggering a 20 day standstill provided they are individually identified and are kept in approved isolation facilities on the farm of origin before moving to and on returning from shows. The rules will reflect existing protocols and herd health rules. Officials have held detailed discussions with interested parties and written guidance will be issued by the Department as soon as possible.

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will reply to the letter from The Surrey County Agricultural Society on the County Show in time for the show organisers to make plans for the animal show on 3 June. [28692]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 18 January 2002]: We have no record of having received the letter dated 3 June referred to by the hon. Member from The Surrey County Agricultural Society on the County Show.

22 Jan 2002 : Column 798W

Livestock Burial

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has held with other EU agriculture Ministers about on-farm burial of livestock. [28860]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 21 January 2002]: The EU Animal By-Products Regulation contains provisions which relate to the burial of livestock. A common position on the regulation was adopted at the November Agriculture Council, following political agreement at the June Agriculture Council. However, the Secretary of State did not discuss the provisions relating to burial at those Councils; discussions had already taken place at official level.

Livestock Markets

Matthew Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when livestock markets will reopen. [29475]

Mr. Morley: On 18 December, the Government announced changes to the livestock movement controls which they intended should be implemented from February 2002 provided there was continued progress in eradicating FMD. Further details will be announced shortly and we hope to have the new system in place from Monday 11 February.

From the start of these arrangements, cattle markets will be allowed to resume, but for sheep and pigs, slaughter markets only will be allowed initially. The question of whether to allow other sheep and pig markets will be kept under review in the light of veterinary and scientific advice.

When markets do reopen, they will be subject to strict conditions to ensure that an appropriate level of biosecurity is maintained.

Flood Defences

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures she has taken (a) to replace and (b) to repair flood defences nationwide that are due to reach the end of their design life over the next decade. [27114]

Mr. Morley: I plan to reduce the risk of flooding by investing in effective flood warning arrangements and in flood and coastal defences in the highest risk areas, and existing flood defences are being repaired, renewed, maintained and improved. As the bulk of expenditure is ultimately met by taxpayers, both DEFRA and the operating authorities have a responsibility to ensure that value for money is obtained when funding works.

This Department provides grants for flood and coastal defence capital works, and associated studies, which meet essential technical, economic and environmental criteria and achieve an appropriate priority score (based on departmental priorities, urgency and benefit:cost ratio). Further to increases in the last two Spending Reviews, additional funding of £51 million over the four years from 2001–02 was announced in November 2000 following the severe flooding. In all DEFRA flood and coastal defence funding is set to increase from £66 million in 2000–01 to £114 million in 2003–04. Funding for future years will be considered in the Spending Review process.

22 Jan 2002 : Column 799W

Responsibility for deciding which projects to promote and their timing rests with the operating authorities. The operating authority for each area draws on its local knowledge to decide what needs to be done, including the appraisal of design standards within the economic justification of projects.

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 6 December 2001, Official Report, column 496W, on flood defence, when the validation will be complete; and whether it will identify when councils completed this task. [27474]

Mr. Morley: A list of local authorities that have provided valid information on their flood defence assets to the Environment Agency has been placed in the Library of the House.

This information was received by the agency in the period to July 2001. Where the agreed programme of inspections requires it, a second round of inspections is under way.

The ability of some local authorities to carry out inspections, and the Environment Agency's ability to receive and assess that information, and to follow up the non-receipt of inspection reports, was severely impaired by the aftermath of the 2000 floods. I have therefore agreed that the agency should provide a fully validated report for the period to March 2002 which covers all inspections to that date, summarises the condition of defences, and sets out the agreed approach to inspections.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress she is making in securing adequate flood defences for Lewes. [27537]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 16 January 2002]: Operational responsibility for flood management rests with operating authorities, such as the Environment Agency. The agency has repaired defences in Lewes so that they are largely up to the standard they were before the floods in autumn 2000. The agency is also undertaking a strategic study of the River Ouse catchment with a view to identifying sustainable defence options for Lewes and other towns. I understand that the agency is keeping local interest groups informed of their consideration of defence options. This Department has provided funding for both the emergency repairs and for the strategic study.

Nuclear Accidents

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 3 December 2001, Official Report, column 96W, on nuclear accidents, what assessment has been made of the need to distribute iodine tablets to the population; and how long it will take average prevailing winds to carry fallout from France to the south coast of England. [22353]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

Potassium Iodate tablets are held at or around various nuclear industry sites throughout the United Kingdom including Ministry of Defence sites as part of the detailed emergency planning arrangements in the vicinity of nuclear power plants. Other stocks are also held centrally.

22 Jan 2002 : Column 800W

As part of the on-going contingency planning the Department is reviewing stocks and supplies of potassium iodate tablets for use in the unlikely event of a nuclear accident at a nuclear power installation either in the UK or abroad.

Advice from the Meterological Office is that there is no "average prevailing wind" from France. However, depending upon the meteorological conditions at any given time, the quantity and source location of the radioactivity on the French coast and the area of the south coast in question, it may take a few hours.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

MI5 Records

Norman Baker: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement on his policy on the release of post-1945 MI5 records into the Public Record Office. [28638]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Government's policy on the release of post-1945 MI5 records into the Public Record Office is that such records should be released when they are over 30-years-old unless release would pose a risk to national security. The Security Service is responsible for determining the sensitivity of the records it holds.

Special Branch (Historical Records)

Norman Baker: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement on the extent of preserved police special branch historical records, and his policy in respect of release of such material into the Public Record Office. [28626]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The records of the Metropolitan police special branch created up to April 2000 are designated public records and are subject to the review and disposal requirements of the Public Records Act 1958.

During the review process records that are of no historical importance nor of continued administrative use are routinely destroyed. Records that have a long-term historical value are selected for preservation and are transferred to the Public Record Office where they are to be found in class MEPO 38. The records in the class cover a wide range of subjects and are intended to reflect the range of duties performed by the branch. They include both policy files and individual case papers. The earliest surviving records of the branch date from 1888.

The MEPO 38 class currently holds records created for the most part up to 1936. Of these, a number are still withheld from public inspection. They are being assessed for continuing sensitivity using the criteria set out in the 1993 White Paper, "Open Government", (Cm 2290), and will be made available to the public when no longer considered sensitive according to those criteria.

Records created after 1936 are also being reviewed and those of historical importance will be selected for permanent preservation.


Next Section Index Home Page