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The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): These are operational matters for London Underground which has informed me that for April escalator availability was 88.7 per cent. I understand that regular announcements are being made at the stations where escalators are out of service and there is a comprehensive poster campaign to keep customers informed. London Transport's Unit for Disabled Passengers provides a comprehensive advice and information service for disabled people and extensive customer information activity, including station and train announcements, posters, radio bulletins and Ceefax. This will ensure that customers are aware of the situation and may consider alternative travel options as necessary. In stations where customer care assistants are present they are trained to help people who need orientation or special assistance.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): On 26 May advice on the options available to farmers was issued by MAFF, and placed in the Library of the House. The information and a note on the AAPS issues involved was also published on the MAFF website.
Baroness Hayman: The Government are issuing a consultation paper on proposed changes to the way cattle health testing for enzootic bovine leukosis (EBL) and brucellosis is carried out in England. This is part of a GB wide initiative and is a direct result of our gaining an "officially EBL free" region status within the EU and the continued recognition of GB status as an "officially brucellosis free" region within the EU.
It is proposed to amend the EBL order to take account of new reduced test frequencies. For dairy cattle these would reduce milk testing from three times a year to twice in every fifth year. For beef suckler herds these would reduce blood testing from once every second year to once every fourth year. The proposed reductions are in line with veterinary advice. We aim to have the new arrangements introduced by September this year and fully effective by April next year.
No changes are currently proposed for brucellosis testing. Test frequencies for brucellosis are currently subject to review but results are not expected before August. GB has had low or no incidence of brucellosis since 1993.
Since these proposals would require changes to the EBL order we are also proposing to simplify publication of the list of laboratories approved to do milk testing and clarify the use of laboratory approval. The Government propose that these changes are also carried out into a remade brucellosis order and that both new orders take full account of devolution.
The Government are pleased that in this consultation we are able to recommend reducing monitoring for EBL in England now that we have "officially EBL free region" status for GB. This reduces costs and burdens for both industry and the public purse and is in line with EU requirements.
Baroness Hayman: The report of the preliminary findings of the study has been placed in the Library of the House and will be made available on the ministry website. The government inspection programme being undertaken by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions will be focused on those imported seed species which are identifed as most likely to be affected. Further studies are in hand.
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