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Updated: 2 years 4 weeks ago

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Management Consultants | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 01:00

Defra has no figures on spending specifically on the services of management consultants. Spend figures recorded under consultancy also include IT consultancy, technical consultancy, legal and financial advice, and project and programme management. Consultancy spend increased significantly in 2013/14 and 2014/15 as a result of third party support on IT programmes, for example Defra’s Shared Service Centre and CAP Delivery Programme. There are no separate records for management consultancy.

Category

Spend by Financial year

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

Consultancy

7,370,397

4,657,302

3,500,291

12,283,077

20,892,135

9,754,717

Fisheries | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Mon, 03/04/2017 - 01:00

The information is in the table attached.

PQ 69594 - MSY table (PDF Document, 109.43 KB)

Food: EU Law | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Mon, 03/04/2017 - 01:00

As we prepare to leave the EU, we are looking at removing rules that are unnecessarily burdensome, focusing instead on what works best for the UK. We want to free our farmers to grow more, sell more and export more British food, whilst upholding our high standards for the environment. No decisions have been taken in relation to individual pieces of legislation, including EU Marketing Standards for fresh fruit and vegetables. We will consult widely with all those affected before making any changes.

Bovine Tuberculosis: Deer | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Mon, 03/04/2017 - 01:00

Routine post-mortem surveillance for TB in deer carcases has been conducted nationally for many years.

Visible lesions of TB are notifiable to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), who will facilitate the collection and submission for laboratory culture of any affected tissues. Positive culture results are relatively rare. Confirmed TB cases in wild deer may nevertheless trigger enhanced TB surveillance around that case, both to identify whether there has been any spread of disease to cattle herds and to limit the number of affected animals.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Internet | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Mon, 03/04/2017 - 01:00

The IT service provider contracted by Defra provides services to other public authorities under the same contract, and in some cases at the same premises. Therefore, the information provided below also includes websites visited by staff from these authorities, as it is not possible to distinguish their visits from those made by Defra staff. Information on websites visited is only available from the service provider for a 6 month period.

Top 5 Websites visited in the past 6 months (28 September – 27 March 2017)

1. bbc.co.uk

2. genesis.naturalengland.gsi.gov.uk

3. edigital.survey.com

4. defra.condecosoftware.com

5. google.co.uk

Fisheries: Treaties | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Fri, 31/03/2017 - 01:00

The Government remains fully committed to controlling and managing UK waters after we leave the EU in accordance with our rights and obligations under international law.

We are considering the issue of the London Fisheries Convention carefully to ensure we have full control of UK waters after we leave the EU and, as the Prime Minister said on 29 March 2017, we hope to be able to say something about it soon.

Horses: Trespass | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Fri, 31/03/2017 - 01:00

The Government does not hold records on the frequency of use of the powers available under the Animals Act 1971, as amended by the Control of Horses Act 2015 to make it easier to detain and manage unlawfully placed horses on land in England. Nevertheless, local authorities, land owner representatives and animal welfare organisations welcomed the new measures introduced in 2015.

Agricultural Products and Food | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Fri, 31/03/2017 - 01:00

The AHDB promotes British agricultural produce both domestically and overseas. The annual budget of the AHDB is approximately £60 million. We are also working with industry to identify opportunities to open new markets after leaving the EU and to support farm businesses that want to develop brands around food provenance.

Food: Origin Marking | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Fri, 31/03/2017 - 01:00

Mandatory requirements for origin labelling already exist for a number of foods, such as beef, lamb, poultry and pork. Rules on origin labelling are not in place for dairy and processed meat products, such as bacon and burgers, but this is often provided on a voluntary basis. Most dairy and processed meat products are compliant with industry's voluntary principles for origin labelling and we are considering how to build on these voluntary principles. We also have an opportunity on leaving the EU to consider further extensions of mandatory country of origin labelling.

Food: Labelling | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Fri, 31/03/2017 - 01:00

Information on nutrition is mandatory for most pre-packaged foods. Exemptions to this are listed in Annex V of the Regulation on the provision of food information to consumers, EU 1169/2011. Exemptions include unprocessed single ingredient products; food presented in very small packaging; and food (including handcrafted food) supplied by a manufacturer of small quantities of products, either directly to the final consumer or to local retail establishments directly supplying the final consumer.

Animal Welfare | Commons debates

Thu, 30/03/2017 - 16:04

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Neil Parish) on securing this debate on a matter that affects so many of us, and thank him for his Select Committee reports into animal welfare in England that we are debating today.

Last month my Department published proposals to overhaul the laws on a number of animal-related licensing schemes, such as the regulations on pet vending, animal boarding, riding schools and dog breeding. The main aim of our proposed changes is to improve animal welfare and to make the licensing schemes easier to enforce.

I want to begin by talking about the issue of dog breeding, which a number of Members have raised. As my hon. Friend will recall from the time when I was on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, I have long argued that we should reduce the threshold before which people have to be licensed by the local authority to breed dogs. I have argued that for some six months, and it is a pleasure to remain in a position in DEFRA for long enough to actually see through something I have argued for for so long. Included, therefore, in our proposals is that anyone breeding and selling more than two litters in a 12-month period will need to be licensed by their local authority. This will have the effect of increasing substantially the number of dog breeders needing to be licensed by about 5,000 per year.

We have also, crucially, proposed that statutory conditions will be applied to all licensed establishments. In relation to dog breeding, that will mean that basic standards taken from the model licence conditions and guidance for dog breeding establishments 2014, published by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, will be applied directly to all licensed breeders.

We had in our consultation initially proposed that there could be an exemption from requiring a licence for breeders who signed up to United Kingdom Accreditation Service-accredited schemes. The Committee and others expressed concerns about going that far, so we listened and have modified that proposal to enable local authorities to recognise risk and to recognise people who sign up to accreditation schemes without removing entirely the need for a licence.

On the question of a ban on selling dogs by third parties, which a number of hon. Members have raised, I understand the desire to try and help potential buyers realise that puppies should be seen with their mothers before they are purchased. Indeed, DEFRA makes such a recommendation. However, I think the specific proposal for an outright ban on all third-party sales is more problematic.

First, we have to consider who would enforce it and how they would do so. Local authorities have to balance their local priorities, and trying to establish whether a particular online advertiser of puppies is located in their area would require the commitment of considerable resources. As I have said, we have already increased the burden on local authorities by taking the number of people required to be licensed from 600 to some 5,000. The demand for dogs is also such that in our view there is a significant risk that an outright ban on third-party sales would simply drive the market underground.

We have therefore decided to address the problem in a different way, through a tougher approach to licensing provisions and to enforcement of the provisions in the Pet Animals Act 1951. First, we are placing beyond any doubt that online commercial sellers need to have a licence. It is not a pet shop licence; it is now a licence for animal sellers, and we will make that absolutely clear in revisions to the licensing conditions. Secondly, as with dog breeders, we propose that statutory conditions should be applied to all licensed pet sellers, whether online or a shop. These will again be based on the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health model conditions for pet vending licensing of 2013. Thirdly, we have also made it clear that, as a condition of having such a licence, if breeders advertise online they will in future need to state their licence number. That will be particularly important in helping with enforcement. I believe that these steps to strengthen the licensing regime currently set out under the 1951 Act go a long way towards addressing the concerns raised.

A number of hon. Members, including the hon. Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (Dr Cameron), raised the issue of puppies being brought through ports. I know there are concerns about the import of puppies for sale, and this is an area where we take action. It is a condition of approval that the transport company checks 100% of all those pets declared to them for compliance with the current EU pet travel scheme. Stringent penalties are in place for those who breach the law by smuggling pet animals or using false documentation.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency has been conducting random audit checks on pet animals arriving in Great Britain. Since December 2015, the agency has been working with Kent County Council, Dover police and the Dogs Trust to identify underage dogs, and in that time, 489 puppies have been seized and placed in quarantine kennels. The majority of them were judged to be younger than the age given on their passports. We have taken action, through our chief veterinary officer, to escalate our concerns to the authorities in the relevant countries from which the dogs came. We take this issue very seriously.

I shall turn now to the crucial part of the debate: the issue of maximum penalties for animal welfare offences. The hon. Member for Redcar (Anna Turley) gave the House some touching examples of cases that she had seen in her constituency. I know that she and my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Kevin Foster) have both recently introduced private Members’ Bills to address this question, and the hon. Lady expressed her frustration at the Whips having objected to her Bill. I can tell her that she joins a large and illustrious club of hon. Members who have faced such a fate—myself included, some years ago—so she should not take it personally.

This is fundamentally a matter for the Ministry of Justice, but my Department obviously works closely with the Ministry. At present, the maximum penalty for such offences is six months’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. The unlimited fine was raised from £20,000 only in 2015. In addition, offenders can be disqualified not only from owning an animal but from having influence over the way in which an animal is kept, for as long as the court sees fit. This is an important point because it covers not only owning an animal but issues such as arranging transport.

My noble Friend Lord Gardiner is in regular contact with the Ministry of Justice to discuss the question of maximum sentences. Current sentencing practice for such offences does not suggest that the courts are finding their sentencing powers inadequate. That is to say that changing the maximum sentence would not make a difference if the courts consider a lower sentence appropriate. However, the Sentencing Council has recently reviewed the magistrates court sentencing guidelines, including those relating to animal cruelty. The revised guidance, which is published on the Sentencing Council’s website and which will be effective from May, will allow magistrates more flexibility when imposing penalties towards the upper end of the scale. In addition, I will ensure that hon. Members’ representations for a change in the legislation to allow for higher maximum penalties are relayed to colleagues in Government.

I want to turn now to some of the other points that have been raised in the debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton and Honiton raised the question of an animal abuse register. I know that the police are considering how they can improve access to the register that they already have. The police national computer provides a searchable single source of locally held police operational information, and there is existing functionality for a police officer to apply a person marker, which can also deal with this issue. My hon. Friend also raised the question of enforcement. We are in discussions with the National Companion Animal Focus Group to try to develop standards of competency and to raise all local authorities to the level of the best.

My hon. Friend the Member for Southend West (Sir David Amess) raised the issue of the Pet Advertising Advisory Group. I would like to pay tribute to the six website groups—Gumtree, Pets4Homes, ePupz, Preloved, Viva Street and the Hut Group—that have signed up to this. In many cases, those organisations automatically email guidance on keeping pets to people who make a particular search. Organisations including Gumtree immediately take down adverts posted by people who are making repeat sales and high volume sales. It is through working with such organisations that I believe we can make good progress.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mrs Villiers) and the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Patricia Gibson) raised the issue of farm animal welfare, which I know we have covered before. As I have explained, we have a manifesto commitment to reflect farm animal welfare in our future farm policy. My hon. Friends the Members for Taunton Deane (Rebecca Pow) and for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Oliver Colvile) talked about education. We are, through our consultation, planning to introduce a requirement for pet sellers to give guidance to people on certain pets, particularly exotic pets. Guidance relating to pet animals also exists in the current school curriculum.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Official Hospitality | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Thu, 30/03/2017 - 01:00

All expenditure within Core Defra relating to hospitality, food and drink is categorised within the Department’s finance system under the single heading ‘Catering and Hospitality’. Therefore, identifying the separate amounts could only be achieved at disproportionate cost. For this reason, the table below sets out the information requested but incorporates combined figures for b) hospitality and c) food and drink.

£000

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

Hotels

701

643

836

820

630

Hospitality, food and drink

279

210

583

521

332

Transport

2,397

2,294

3,154

2,834

2,643

Members: Correspondence | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Thu, 30/03/2017 - 01:00

A reply was sent on 1 March via e-mail to the Parliamentary Office of the hon. Member for Glasgow Central. Unfortunately, due to a mistype in the address, the reply may not have been received. It has now been resent correctly addressed.

Dogs: Animal Welfare | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Thu, 30/03/2017 - 01:00

An amended statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs will be placed before Parliament later this year. We propose to include in it a specific reference to the circumstances under which electronic training aids and similar devices for dogs can be used.

Dogs: Sales | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Thu, 30/03/2017 - 01:00

Following a consultation last year, Defra published a Next Steps document in February 2017 which set out proposals to improve local authority animal licencing schemes, including on pet sales, to enhance animal welfare. We propose to make it an offence to sell puppies and kittens aged younger than eight weeks.

We will also require all licensed pet shops and all other pet vendors to comply with statutory welfare conditions which raise animal welfare standards.

Agriculture: Subsidies | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Thu, 30/03/2017 - 01:00

The Government has guaranteed that the agricultural sector will receive the same level of funding that it would have received under Pillar 1 of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) until the end of the Multi-Annual Financial Framework in 2020.

The annual value of the Pillar 1 budget fluctuates with currency movements but the UK budgetary ceiling for 2019/2020 will be approximately €3.2billion. The scheme regulations do not set a minimum level of spend.

Slaughterhouses: Animal Welfare | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Wed, 29/03/2017 - 01:00

Investigation into welfare incidents that occur at slaughterhouses are the responsibility of the FSA. Where welfare breaches are identified relating to the transportation of the animals at slaughterhouses, the FSA will notify the relevant Local Authority Trading Standards office which are responsible for enforcing the welfare of animals during transport legislation.

Defra is currently working with local authorities and the Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA) to improve the enforcement action taken against transporters where animals are found to be injured or dead on arrival at a slaughterhouse. As part of this initiative, APHA have issued a number of warning letters to transporters, to explain that any further non-compliance identified at slaughterhouses would result in regulatory action being taken against them.

Livestock: Dogs | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Wed, 29/03/2017 - 01:00

Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, the maximum penalty for dog attacks on livestock is a fine of up to £1000. Currently there are no plans to increase this penalty.

As part of addressing dog attacks on livestock, Defra and the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England recently met police forces, and farming and rural interests to discuss the situation. Under the auspices of the National Police Chiefs’ Council five police forces are collaborating to pilot good response practices.

Fisheries: EU Law | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Wed, 29/03/2017 - 01:00

We are currently analysing all EU fisheries legislation. No decision has yet been made on the extent to which the EU legislation governing the Common Fisheries Policy will be incorporated into domestic law.

Livestock: Dogs | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

Wed, 29/03/2017 - 01:00

The Government is aware of the devastating effect that dog attacks on livestock can have for farmers and other livestock keepers including in terms of significant financial loss. Data on the total costs are not collected centrally. Defra and the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England (AHWBE) recently met police forces, farming and rural interests to discuss the situation. Under the auspices of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, five police forces are collaborating to pilot more systematic data collection of incidents and good response practices.