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Guantanamo Bay: British Detainees

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: British officials last visited the British nationals detained at Guantanamo Bay from 8 to 10 September. The visit did suggest that the British detainees are increasingly frustrated by their continued detention but the officials were not in a position to assess their mental health. However, we understand from the US authorities that the medical facilities, including psychiatric care, at Guantanamo Bay available to the detainees are of a high standard and are the same as those for US military personnel.

Iraq: Death Penalty

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The United Kingdom's position on the dealth penalty is well known—we oppose the use of the death penalty in all circumstances. With reference to Iraq, the death penalty is currently suspended under CPA Order Number 7.

Bovine Tuberculosis

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many carcasses of red deer, other deer and wild mammals have been examined in each of the past 10 years; and how many were found to be infected with bovine tuberculosis in each of the last 10 years.[HL5460]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): Table 1 shows the number of wild and farmed deer carcasses investigated for TB between 1992 and 2002 and the number of samples where mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) was found following bacteriological culture. Data are not separately available for red deer.

Table 1

YearTotal number of deer tissue submissions investigated by Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA)Number of confirmed TB cases in wild deerNumber of confirmed TB cases farmed/park deerTotal number of deer confirmed with TB

* Data not available + Most accurate data currently available

Table 2 shows the number of badger carcasses from road traffic accidents (RTA) examined and the percentage found to be infected with M. bovis between 1992 to 1996 in England and Wales.

Table 2 Number of road traffic accident (RTA) badgers and percentage of M. bovis infection 1992 to 1996 in England and Wales

YearTotal number of RTA badgers sent for post-mortemPercentage of M. bovis infection in RTA badgers

*The randomised badger culling trial (RBCT) was implemented in 1998. The RTA survey results are embargoed until the Trial reports.

The RTA survey was suspended in 1997 pending completion of the report on bovine tuberculosis in cattle and badgers by Professor John Krebs and the Independent Scientific Review Group. This suspension resulted in a loss of data. Professor Krebs recommended the reintroduction of the RTA survey, particularly for areas of new breakdowns. The Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG) took this recommendation on board when it was formed, and a limited RTA survey recommenced in 2000.

Table 3 shows the number of badgers taken by Defra and the percentage found to be infected with M. bovis between 1992 to 1996 in England and Wales.

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Table 3
Number of Defra-taken badgers and percentage of M. bovis infection 1992–96 in England and Wales

YearTotal MAFF/Defra-taken badgers sent for post-mortemPercentage of M. bovis infection in MAFF taken badgers

Data are only available up to 1996. The ISG has recommended that pending completion of the randomised badger culling trial, interim reports on numbers and locations of badgers culled and TB prevalences should not be published in order to avoid encouraging illegal action against badgers, deterring participation in the trial and to protect the trial's statistical validity.

There are also two research projects under way which are looking at TB in wildlife other than badgers. Summary details are given in the table below:

Table 4

Title of Research ProjectStart DateEnd Date
The risk to cattle from M. bovis in wildlife species other than badgers1 May 199930 April 2004
The risk to cattle from wildlife species other than badgers in areas of high herd breakdown risk.1 January 200028 February 2004

The research projects are proceeding according to plan. Following completion the findings of each project will be published.

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Farms: Tuberculosis Testing

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Following the survey carried out by the British Cattle Veterinary Association published in May 2003, which showed that 48 per cent of farms listed as being overdue a tuberculosis test should not have been on the list, whether these apparent overdue errors were due to inefficiencies within the offices of divisional managers; and, if so, what action they have taken to improve the accuracy of data on their tuberculosis database.[HL5461]

Lord Whitty: We are aware of the BCVA survey. The nature of TB testing is such that most TB tests are completed on or shortly after their due date. Delays in the submission of test results from local veterinary practices, or delays in the input of those test results on to the database when they have been received at animal health offices, could result in some tests appearing as outstanding when the tests have been carried out.

Early in 2002, pressure of work following the foot and mouth disease outbreak may have led to delays in the input of test results on to the database, but this position is now much improved.

Herds with tests overdue by more than three months are now put under movement restrictions. Because of this, careful checks are made to ensure that all tests that have been done (and results received) are entered on to the database. This initiative, alongside the efforts of local veterinary practices, has reduced the number of overdue TB tests to below the number overdue prior to the foot and mouth disease outbreak.

European Union Fishing Laws: UK Breaches

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What breaches by the United Kingdom of the European Union fishing laws have been revealed by the European Commission; what action they intend to ascertain the truth of these allegations; and by what procedure the United Kingdom can appeal.[HL5534]

Lord Whitty: The European Commission has commenced formal proceedings against the United Kingdom under Article 226 of the EC Treaty and Article 26(2) of Council Regulation (EC) No. 2371/2002 on the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources under the common fisheries policy.

The Commission considers that:

    (i) the United Kingdom has not provided its competent authorities with the sufficient means to perform their tasks of inspection and control, as

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    laid down in Article 1(2) of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2847/93 establishing a control system applicable to the common fisheries policy;

    (ii) the United Kingdom has not ensured in a sufficient and effective way the compliance with the Community rules in force concerning control measures, notably inspection and monitoring of all fishing activities within its territory and within the maritime waters subject to its sovereignty or jurisdiction;

    (iii) insufficient and ineffective control has been observed in particular with respect to those obligations related to the use of the VMS (vessel monitoring systems) by vessels operating in the UK waters, to the recording of the exact amount of catches in the logbook, to the submission of sales notes, to the submission and recording of landing declarations, to the submission of transport documents and to the establishment of a validation system comprising in particular cross-checks and verification of data in order to ensure respect of the obligations laid down in Articles 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14 and 17 of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2847/93;

    (iv) the United Kingdom has not taken the appropriate measures against the natural or legal persons who do not comply with the rules in force of the common fisheries policy, including proceedings capable of effectively depriving those responsible of the economic benefit of the infringements or of producing results proportionate to the seriousness of such infringements, effectively discouraging further offences of the same kind, and is of the view that the United Kingdom has failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 1(2), Article 2(1) in connection with the Article 3(6), Article 6(3), Article 8(1), Article 13(1–3), Article 14 (1 and 2) and Article 19 (1–3), and Article 31 (1 and 2) of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2847/93.

The Government have two months in which to respond and to demonstrate compliance with their obligations under Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2847/93. If the Commission is not satisfied with the Government response it may take preventive measures as provided for in Article 26(3) of Council Regulation (EC) No. 2371/2002 and issue a reasoned opinion under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. Beyond that the Commission may refer the issues to the European Court of Justice.

Effective enforcement is integral to the success of the common fisheries policy and to efforts to conserve fish stocks. The Government are taking the Commission's criticisms very seriously; are currently consulting with the Scotttish Executive, the Welsh Assembly government and the Northern Ireland authorities, and expect to submit a postive response to the Commission early in the new year.

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