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Fish Quotas

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the relationship between quota levels and fish market prices over the past five years. [37948]

Mr. Morley: The Department is contributing to an economic research project led by the Sea Fish Industry Authority which is examining the determinants of fish prices and demand at both the quayside and retail levels. This has not yet reported, although the results of the quayside phase are due to be published soon. What is clear at this stage however is that, because of the global nature of the markets for some important species, there is often no simple relationship between local catch levels and market prices.

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the relevant information concerning the Shetland and Orkney fish quota leasing schemes has been submitted to the European Commission; and for what reasons there has been a delay in provision of the information. [37927]

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Mr. Morley: The Commission announced an investigation into the Shetland and Orkney fish quota leasing schemes on 28 November 2001. Following an extension, granted by the Commission, of a month to the original deadline information from the Islands' Councils was provided in time to meet the 6 February deadline. Meanwhile the Commission on 12 February invited interested parties to comment within a month on the investigation.

Warm Front Scheme

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recognised training is available for those wishing to provide energy advice to householders; what level of training is provided for those giving advice under the Warm Front scheme; and what recommendations her Department makes as to appropriate training of these individuals. [36563]

Mr. Meacher: The Energy Saving Trust is an independent body grant funded by Government to promote the sustainable and efficient use of energy in the domestic and small business sectors. The trust's national network of Energy Efficient Advice Centres provides advice on domestic efficiency issues. All staff who provide advice are required to have passed either City and Guilds Energy Awareness (6176), have a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in energy efficiency or two years' relevant experience.

The Government's main programme for tackling fuel poverty in the private sector in England is the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES), now marketed as the Warm Front Team. Two scheme managers, Eaga Partnership and TXU Warm Front Ltd., are responsible for administering HEES.

The Department stipulates that the scheme managers' energy efficiency advisers are trained to at least City and Guilds Energy Awareness (6176). Eaga Partnership's advisers are City and Guilds trained. TXU Warm Front Ltd.'s energy advisers are certified by the independent National Home Energy Rating Assessment Board.

Animal Health

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consultations she has had on the introduction of new animal health legislation; and if she will make a statement. [37489]

Mr. Morley: The Department consults with a wide range of stakeholders and interested parties on animal health legislation. For example, the rules covering the new Interim Animal Movements Regime were extensively discussed with a stakeholders group and representatives of individual organisations, prior to secondary legislation being introduced. All formal consultation exercises carried out by the Department are listed on the DEFRA website, including details of current consultations on, for example, the implementation of powers in the Animal Health Bill and a proposal for an Animal Welfare Bill.

Veterinary Practice

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to introduce further legislation to govern veterinary practice. [37488]

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Mr. Morley: The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 requires modernising; preliminary discussions have taken place, between DEFRA officials and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, on drafting a new Act to regulate the veterinary profession, but the discussions are still at a very early stage.

In the interim we are progressing with amendments to the Act which would: (i) permit certain procedures currently reserved to veterinary surgeons to be delegated to fully trained and competent para-professionals; and (ii) allow veterinary nurses, and student veterinary nurses under supervision, to carry out medical treatment and minor surgery on all species of animals.

Fisheries Agreement

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will place a copy of the evaluation report on the fisheries agreement between the EU and Mauritania in the Library. [36074]

Mr. Morley: The evaluation report on the fisheries agreement between the EU and Mauritania is a European Commission paper which is not in the public domain. It is not therefore within our power to make this document public. However, I have asked the UK Permanent Representation in Brussels to make inquiries to see if it can be made public.

Ministerial Boxes

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by what means ministerial boxes are conveyed from private offices in her Department to (a) herself and (b) her Ministers; how frequently and at what expense private courier firms are employed for such a task; and which courier firms have been used for such duties. [36273]

Mr. Morley: Ministerial boxes originating from this Department are transported to Ministers' homes either by Government car or by a service provided by the Royal Mail.

Flood Defences

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations she has received on her proposals to improve flood defences. [37631]

Mr. Morley: The Environment Agency has asked the Government to recognise and commit to meeting the need for a significant further increase in funding on a planned basis to (a) improve flood warnings and (b) maintain and improve the overall standard and extent of flood defence. This will be considered through the Spending Review 2002 process. Current plans are for this Department's spending on flood and coastal defences for all operating authorities to increase from last year's outturn of £66 million to £114 million in 2003–04.

Representations have also been received about the methodology governing the economic appraisal of flood defence works. The current methodology will be subject to review in the light of such initiatives as on-going DEFRA research into the impact of flooding on people, the Institution of Civil Engineers' report entitled "Learning to Live with Rivers" and the agency's report

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on the appraisal of flood defence works which I received recently. This report was undertaken following the Lessons Learned report on the autumn 2000 floods which outlined the agency's concerns about the process for making investment decisions. We are consulting more widely on its conclusions.

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish the list of the 100 communities referred to on 21 December 2001 by the Chairman of the Environment Agency as not being cost effective to provide with protection against flooding; what action she has taken to communicate this information to the residents, local authorities and other bodies in those communities; and what steps her Department has taken since 21 December 2001 to urge the Environment Agency to provide flood defence schemes to those communities. [34685]

Mr. Morley: This Department has policy responsibility for flood management in England and provides grants for capital works that meet economic, technical and environmental criteria and achieve an appropriate priority score. Operational responsibility rests with the Environment Agency, local authorities and internal drainage boards who decide which works to promote and their timing. I have encouraged those operating authorities to consider action for areas of the country at highest risk from flooding and coastal erosion. Both DEFRA and the operating authorities have a responsibility to all taxpayers to ensure that value for money is obtained when funding works.

The Environment Agency in its Lessons Learned report following the autumn 2000 floods undertook to use all available information to catalogue the flooding, the local causes and how solutions or responsibility for action can be successfully attributed for the 8,554 properties that were flooded at 795 locations in England.

The agency has now assessed the locations. For many work has been included in maintenance or capital programmes resulting in the repair and improvement of damaged defences. Initially the agency identified some 700 properties (in 100 locations) where it was proving difficult to provide an early practical solution; these were primarily sites where there was flooding of less than 10 properties.

Investigations continue to identify scope for providing flood protection to the remaining properties through flood warnings, communal defences or individual property protection.

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