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Farmed Fish

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations she has received regarding farmed fish; and if she will make a statement. [41693]

Mr. Morley: We have received representations recently on matters relating to the management, marketing and welfare of farmed fish.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to seek to reform the law in respect of farmed fish; and if she will make a statement. [41692]

Mr. Morley: The Diseases of Fish (Control) (Amendments) (England and Wales) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002 No.284), which came into force on 10 March 2002, provide for revised control measures to be taken on any farm in England and Wales where there is suspicion or confirmation of certain fish diseases. The regulations implement in England and Wales the provisions of Council Directive 2000/27/EEC of 2 May 2000.

We are planning to amend the Fish Health Regulations 1997 (SI 1997 No.1881) to reflect restoration of the Great Britain approved zone in respect of the fish diseases infectious haematopoietic necrosis and viral haemorrhagic septicaemia following adoption of Commission Decision 2000/188/EC of 17 February 2000, and to make changes in the way fish farmers should maintain fish movement records.

Welfare of Laying Hens Directive

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many meetings her Department had with (a) scientists and (b) vets prior to agreement of the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive 1999/74/EC. [41232]

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Mr. Morley [holding answer 11 March 2002]: Interested parties, including scientists and vets were consulted during the course of the negotiations on the directive.

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will ensure that in implementing the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive 1999/74/EC the requirements in the United Kingdom are the minimum laid down in the Directive. [41413]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 11 March 2002]: It is intended that the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive will be implemented in England without being added to in any way. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will follow suit. If changes are proposed there will be a full public consultation.

Freshwater Fisheries

Dr. Jack Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the objectives are of the Environment Agency BRITE proposals; what effect she estimates they will have on the resources devoted to all aspects of freshwater fisheries; and if she will make a statement. [41231]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 11 March 2002]: BRITE (Better Regulation to Improve the Environment) is an internal Environment Agency reorganisation with the broad objectives of improving effectiveness of delivery, achieve regulatory consistency and integrated management of the environment. The agency expects these changes to improve the environmental outcomes from existing stakeholders by reallocating existing resources. The water resource aspects of BRITE, which include fisheries, have yet to be considered by Ministers.

Dr. Jack Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will set out the Government's response to Recommendations of the Freshwater Fisheries Review; how far the Government's position is informed by the BRITE proposals of the Environment Agency; and if she will make a statement. [41233]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 11 March 2002]: I refer my right hon. Friend to the reply I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd, South (Mr. Jones) on 20 December 2000, Official Report, columns 205–08, in which I outlined the Government's response to the independent report of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Review Group. A copy of the Government's formal response can be found in the Library.

The Government require the Environment Agency to use its resources in a cost-effective manner. Although the potential impacts of the BRITE (Better Regulation to Improve the Environment) proposals as they affect fisheries have yet to be considered by Ministers they are expected to be consistent with that overall aim.

Eggs

Mr. Curry: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she will make of the impact on the competitiveness of the UK industry in relation to other EU egg producers in

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deciding whether to permit the enriched cage system of production under EU Welfare of Laying Hens Directive 1999/74/EC. [41491]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 8 March 2002]: English implementing legislation will permit all the systems of production detailed in the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive 99/74/EC. If changes are proposed there will be a full public consultation.

Mr. Curry: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information she has collated on which EU countries have indicated that they will (a) permit and (b) not permit the enriched cages system of egg production when the EU Welfare of Laying Hens Directive 1999/74/EC is introduced. [41492]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 8 March 2002]: No country is proposing an immediate ban on "enriched" cages. Germany proposes to ban them from 2012. Belgium and the Netherlands are considering following suit. As far as we are aware all other member states will permit "enriched" cages subject to a review of the directive in 2005.

Mari Geni

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the fishing vessel, Mari Geni, has been decommissioned. [42389]

Mr. Morley: The Department has received confirmation that the Mari Geni has now been decommissioned.

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to whom the track record of the fishing vessel, Mari Geni, has been transferred. [42375]

Mr. Morley: The arrangements for the transfer of track record under the 2001 fishing vessel decommissioning scheme for England were set out in the answer given to the hon. Member on 27 February 2002, Official Report, column 1358W. Information on individual transfers is confidential to the parties concerned.

Foot and Mouth

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answers of 7 March 2002, Official Report, column 481W, on foot and mouth, when the record of local authority prosecutions will be made available; and if she will make a statement. [43129]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 14 March 2002]: The Department makes an annual Return of Prosecutions made under the Animal Health Act 1981. This is due to be laid before Parliament by 27 March. However, the return does not specify the nature of each prosecution but provides a statistical report on the number of prosecutions taken under the Act. Prosecutions taken during the foot and mouth outbreak could have been taken under a number of different Orders (i.e. the Foot and Mouth Order 1983 or the Animal By-Products Order 1999) or under the Act. Due to difficulties encountered this year in collecting this information, the return for October 2000 to September 2001 may not be complete.

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The results of the exercise we are conducting with the Local Authority Co-ordinating Body on Food and Trading Standards (LACOTS) to compile a complete record of prosecutions (mentioned in my previous answer) may be presented in a future Return of Prosecutions. Alternative methods of making this information publicly available are under consideration. Given the number of local authorities from which information is required, I cannot say when this information will finally be available. We will, however, seek to complete the exercise as soon as possible.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answers of 7 March 2002, Official Report, column 481W, on foot and mouth, if the farm premises where obstruction of Government inspection took place was found subsequently to have been infected with foot-and-mouth disease. [43130]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 14 March 2002]: The farm concerned was not confirmed as an infected premises.

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost has been of the programme of laboratory testing of samples taken from animals suspected of carrying foot and mouth disease since 19 February 2001; and if she will make a statement. [42372]

Mr. Morley: The laboratory testing programme for Foot and Mouth Disease is estimated to have cost approximately £22 million.

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she published an itemised cost list of the Epynt carcase and ash burial and incineration site in Powys opened for animals slaughtered under the foot and mouth disease control measures; how many animals have been interred at the Epynt burial site (a) in the form of carcases and (b) following incineration; and if she will make a statement. [42373]

Mr. Morley: We are unable to give final cost figures for Epynt mass burial site at this time. Invoices submitted by contractors for work carried out on the site are currently the subject of verification and substantiation by forensic accountants and claims surveyors retained by this Department.



Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost has been of the operation to (a) recover the carcases and ashes of animals buried at the Epynt foot and mouth disease disposal site, (b) restore the immediate environment following reclamation and (c) monitor the wider environment for pollution and contamination. [42374]

Mr. Morley: We are unable to give cost figures for Epynt mass burial site at this time. Invoices submitted by contractors are currently the subject of verification and substantiation by forensic accountants and claims surveyors retained by this Department.

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Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what was the cost incurred in Wales by the use of vets in relation to the recent foot and mouth outbreak. [41313]

Mr. Morley: The cost of employing Local Veterinary Inspectors and Temporary Veterinary Inspectors to deal with the foot and mouth outbreak cannot be broken down in the way requested by the hon. Member.

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the mechanisms used to publicise the Make Your Views Known consultation which will be fed into the foot and mouth inquiry. [41333]

Mr. Morley: This is a matter for the Lessons Learned Inquiry. I understand that the Framework Document, setting out the details of this consultation, was published on the Inquiry web site on 14 December 2001 and circulated to a wide range of stakeholders. The deadline for written submissions was Friday 15 March 2002.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many inquiries are being undertaken by her Department into suspected cases of fraud in relation to the handling of the foot and mouth epidemic; and if she will make a statement. [41217]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 7 March 2002]: There are currently eight cases in England, related to the Foot-and-Mouth epidemic and involving allegations of financial irregularities in relation to claims for compensation and/or invoices for services, which are subject to criminal investigation by my Department. Additionally, three completed investigations are under consideration by lawyers to determine if prosecution is appropriate, and criminal proceedings have been initiated in one case.

Substantive allegations of fraud will be fully investigated, but it would be inappropriate for me to comment further in respect of current investigations.

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her Department's decision to issue a press release 75/02 on 26 February on the suspected case of foot and mouth at a farm near Hawnby, North Yorkshire; what information was issued by her Department to the local authorities controlling the situation at the local level concerning the Department's intentions; and if she will make a statement. [41686]

Mr. Morley: Press release 75/02 was issued in line with the Department's commitment to openness. It was important that we informed interested parties, via the media, that the 8 km animal movement restrictions had been imposed around the farm at Hawnby, the first time this had happened since 30 September.

I understand that the media had become aware of the incident shortly before the release was issued and were in contact with the Leeds COI press office requesting information. It is important that the Department does what it can to assist factual reporting and informing the public by issuing information in the public interest.

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We co-operated fully with North Yorkshire county council on the imposition of movement restrictions and the revocation of any movement licences. We did not formally discuss our intention to issue a press release with the council although council officials were aware that a press release would be issued.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she and her Ministers will give evidence to the European Parliament's Committee of Inquiry on Foot and Mouth. [41359]

Mr. Morley: Ministers and officials are ready to meet the Temporary Committee if this would be helpful. We have not yet received formal invitations.

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list those studies she has undertaken to investigate the impact on agricultural ancillary industries when a case of suspected foot and mouth is under investigation by her Department; what assessment she has made of the effect on ancillary industries of the nature of media reporting of suspected cases of foot and mouth disease; and if she will make a statement. [41687]

Alun Michael: DEFRA commissioned a survey of 2,445 businesses in six mainly rural districts of England (Carlisle, Eden, West Devon, East Devon, North Norfolk and Mid-Suffolk) to investigate the economic impacts of foot and mouth disease (FMD). It was undertaken during September 2001. The survey investigated the economic impacts of FMD on selected rural economies in regions which have been affected to varying degrees by FMD.

The key findings of this report were included in the report of the Rural Task Force, published in October 2001 and entitled "Tackling the Impact of Foot and Mouth Disease on the Rural Economy".

The Government responded in December 2001 when I published "England's Rural Future". It is difficult to see how studies could be carried out in the way suggested by the hon. Lady.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what reports she has (a) requested and (b) received from other public bodies regarding the handling of the foot and mouth epidemic; and if she will place copies of the reports in the Library. [40581]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 5 March 2002]: It is for the independent Lessons Learned inquiry to make recommendations as to the way in which the Government should handle any future major animal disease outbreak. However, I have received a number of reports from organisations, including Devon county council, Shropshire county council and Northumberland county council. These reports have been placed in the public domain by these organisations.


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