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Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which Ministers and officials attached to her Department were directly involved in discussions with the European Commission concerning the implementation of EU regulation 2037/2000 in the UK; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Meacher: I negotiated the draft Regulation at the EC Environment Council meeting in December 1998, and the Council adopted a common position at the meeting in February 1999. Negotiations at official level took place in the Environment Working Group of the Council and the Committee of Permanent Representatives. At official level, further discussions with the European Commission and other Member States on introduction and implementation took place at regular Management Committee meetings on both the previous legislation, EC Regulation 3093/94, and EC Regulation 2037/2000.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps the Government are taking to ensure that animal owners are not limited to buying animal medicines from veterinary surgeons under EU directive 2001/82/EC;
Mr. Morley [holding answer 1 March 2002]: Directive 2001/82/EC consolidated a number of Directives concerning veterinary medicinal products into a single text. Its purpose was not to introduce any substantive changes to the controls on veterinary medicines that
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previously existed. Therefore there are no likely effects on employment as a consequence of its implementation. Nor is there anything in Directive 2001/82/EC that would limit animal owners to buying veterinary medicines from veterinary surgeons.
However, the European commission has proposed amendments to Directive 2001/82/EC, one of which would require medicines for food-producing animals to be supplied only in accordance with a veterinary prescription. Under UK legislation veterinary medicines for which a prescription is required may be supplied by veterinary surgeons or registered pharmacists. In its present form this particular proposal could result in UK farmers having to pay more by incurring veterinary surgeons' fees when obtaining those medicines that are currently available without veterinary intervention. Furthermore, it could restrict the number and types of veterinary medicines that may be supplied by registered agricultural merchants and saddlers, to a limited range of products for dogs and cats. This could have significant adverse effects on those businesses.
In considering this proposal the Government has taken account of its likely impact on the supply of veterinary medicines and has agreed that, during negotiations, UK officials should seek to modify the proposal to enable a flexible approach to the distribution of veterinary medicinal products that takes advantage of existing national practices, so long as consumer protection and animal welfare can be demonstrably assured.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the running costs were of (a) her Ministers' private offices, separately identifying expenditure on staff and (b) her Department for each year from May 1997 to the nearest date for which the information is available. 
Mr. Morley: The Department has only been in existence since June 2001. Forecast running cost expenditure on Ministers' private offices for 200102 is £2.2 million. This includes £1.5 million for staff costs. The 200102 Administrative Cost budget for the whole Department is £653.6 million.
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arrangements her Department has made to celebrate (a) St. Patrick's Day, (b) St. George's Day, (c) St. Andrew's Day and (d) Her Majesty the Queen's Golden Jubilee; and how her Department celebrated St. David's Day. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 11 March 2002]: In connection with celebrations to mark Her Majesty the Queen's Golden Jubilee, I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to the hon. Member for South Suffolk (Mr. Tim Yeo) on 11 February, Official Report, column 58W/59W.
On flag flying, the Department and its Executive Agencies routinely follow central guidance from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport on flying the Union flag from its buildings on "named days". They will similarly observe any agreed Union flag flying protocol for the Golden Jubilee but the flag will fly routinely on Coronation Day (2 June) as this is a "named day".
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice the Department has issued to farmers regarding the legality of continued use of the stall and tether pig housing system in the UK. 
Magaret Beckett [holding answer 21 March 2002]: Legislation originally introduced in 1991 to ban close-confinement stalls for breeding sows came into full effect from January 1999. During the eight year phase-out period advisory material was issued and a video showing alternative systems produced.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what reports the Chief Veterinary Officer has received from (a) animal welfare organisations, (b) members of the public, (c) Farm Assurance scheme inspectors, (d) other Government officials and (e) other persons that animal welfare had been compromised in pig units at (i) Oldlands Farm, Wiltshire and (ii) Shoddesden, Hampshire. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 21 March 2002]: No complaints were received about either unit before allegations made by Sky News in June 2001. Job No: CW0126 Folios: 000-000Operator: Operator Number 3. Date: 11/04/02/corrs BILL
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what investigations have been made by the Government into use of sow stall and tether housing systems on the pig units of (a) Oldlands Pig Unit, Wiltshire and (b) Shoddesden Pig Unit, Hampshire since 1999. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 21 March 2002]: There have been veterinary inspections of both of these units. Allegations that illegal stall and tether systems were in use on these units after the ban was not substantiated.
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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to investigate the treatment of pigs at (a) Oldlands Pig Unit, Wiltshire and (b) Shoddesden Pig Unit, Hampshire. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 21 March 2002]: There are no plans to investigate the treatment of pigs at these units as there are currently no pigs on either unit. Previous complaints were investigated and no breach of welfare regulations were found.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when (a) Government ministers and (b) Government officials were first informed of the possibility that animal welfare had been compromised on pig units in (i) Oldlands Farm, Wiltshire and (ii) Shoddesden, Hampshire since 1997; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 21 March 2002]: Sky News first made allegations of poor welfare conditions on both units in June 2001. Allegations made in the media were fully investigated at the time and various claims made could not be substantiated by veterinary inspection.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) unannounced and (b) pre-arranged welfare inspections have taken place at the pig units of (i) Oldlands Farm, Wiltshire and (ii) Shoddesden, Hampshire since 1996.
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 21 March 2002]: There have been six welfare inspections of these units since April 1996. Whether the visits were pre-arranged or unannounced was not recorded in all cases, but the most recent visits in June 2001 and January 2002 were pre-arranged in order to have a responsible person on site to facilitate inspection and respond to enquiries.
Mr. Morley [holding answer 25 March 2002]: The Government does not consider that financial assistance is appropriate for producers who have been required to change the feeding regimes of their animals. However, assistance was provided at the time of the introduction of the swill ban in the form of advice on alternative methods of feeding and alternative feeds that would be acceptable.
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