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19 Nov 2003 : Column 880Wcontinued
Dr. Cable: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many cases of work-related stress have been reported in his Department in each of the last three years; how much compensation has been paid to employees; how many work days have been lost due to work-related stress, and at what cost; what procedures have been put in place to reduce work-related stress, and at what cost; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr. Alexander: The Cabinet Office does not record reported cases of work-related stress. However, in August 2002 it introduced a mechanism for recording sickness absence caused by work-related stress as distinct from non-work related stress.
Since that date, the number of reported cases where work-related stress has been recorded as the reason for sickness absence has been less than five. To protect the privacy of individuals, more detailed information cannot be provided.
The Cabinet Office is aware of its legal responsibilities to reduce stress at work. It provides in-house guidance and training to its managers and individuals, has an in-house counselling service that can be accessed by all and has procedures in place for dealing with complaints, harassment and bullying.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on regulating impact assessments which have been carried out into the work of the Marine Consents Unit. 
Mr. Morley: The Government's first Marine Stewardship Report announced a Review of Development in Marine and Coastal Waters. This included an examination of a range of marine controls, including those exercised by the Marine Consents and Environment Unit, from a regulatory perspective. A range of options for short-term and long-term reform are currently being considered. An announcement will be made in due course.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the regulatory impacts of the proposed spatial planning body within the Marine Consents Unit. 
Mr. Morley: The Government's first Marine Stewardship Report contained a commitment to explore the role of spatial planning for the marine environment. This is being followed up in a number of workshops. There is currently no proposal for a spatial planning body within the Marine Consents Unit.
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Marine and Coastal Waters to see how the complexity of the current regulatory control regime might be reduced. The review is being led by my noble Friend the Lord Rooker, Minister of State for Regeneration and Regional Development. The findings from the review will be announced in due course.
Matthew Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will publish the consultation on measures to address the environmental impacts of agriculture through the use of economic instruments referred to in her speech to the Environmental Industries Commission Annual Conference on 25 June 2003. 
Mr. Morley: The Government included a discussion of agriculture and economic instruments in an annex to the Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food, published in December 2002. The main route for progressing issues raised in the annex has been through work on diffuse water pollution. The aim is to publish a consultation paper on a broad range of policy options, including economic instruments, by the end of this financial year.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) strategy has been implemented and (b) funds have been committed to (i) identifying and (ii) eradicating bovine tuberculosis. 
Cattle testing and controls;
Development of a TB vaccine;
Research into how TB is spread; and
A badger culling trial
The current TB programme is under review and we expect to consult on proposals for a new TB strategy for Great Britain, and on short-term policy options for TB control, around the end of the year. In developing the strategy we will need to consider whether eradication of the disease is a realistic goal within the 10 year period over which the strategy will apply, and on the most appropriate ways of achieving it.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent analysis has been carried out by the Environment Agency to establish emission levels from the Rugby Cement Works, Rugby; what conclusions have been drawn in respect of the health implications for residents in the town; and if she will make a statement. 
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Mr. Bradshaw: The Environment Agency is the regulator for the cement works in Rugby and last conducted independent monitoring at the installation on 13 August 2002. I understand that further independent tests have been scheduled for the week beginning 10 November 2003.
The Rugby Cement Works is regulated under the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000. The Environment Agency recently issued a permit to the cement works in Rugby under those regulations.
It is the Environment Agency's opinion that compliance with the very carefully designed PPC permit conditions is sufficient to protect human health and the environment. The rationale for the Environment Agency's decision to grant a PPC permit is set out in full detail in a lengthy decision document (Ref. BL7248) which has been placed on public registers maintained by the Environment Agency and the Rugby borough council. A copy of the agency's Decision Document can be obtained by telephoning 01684 850951.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the impact on emission levels from the burning of tyres in cement kilns used for co-incineration, with particular reference to (a) nitrogen dioxide, (b) sulphur dioxide and (c) particulate matter; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: As the competent authority under the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000, the Environment Agency is responsible for assessing the impact of emissions from cement kilns that burn tyres. The Environment Agency's assessment methodology shows that tyre burning trials have consistently demonstrated that emissions of the principal pollutant from cement kilnsoxides of nitrogenare reduced when conventional fuels such as coal and pet coke are substituted by scrap tyres, in some cases significantly. Whilst there might be an increase or decrease in other, less environmentally significant, emissions, the use of scrap tyres has been repeatedly demonstrated to result in a net environmental benefit.
Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with other Departments about implementing a strategy to tackle childhood obesity. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Defra has been working closely with the Department of Health, the Department for Education and Skills and the Food Standards Agency in relation to cross-Government initiatives such as the Food and Health Action Plan, Food in Schools, the National School Fruit Scheme and the Five a Day Programme. These are aimed at educating and encouraging both children and the wider population to adopt a healthier diet and lifestyle, including tackling the growing problem of obesity.
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(3) if she will make a statement on the health aspects of eating farmed cod; 
(4) if she will make a statement about the effects of cod farming on natural fish stocks. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Government's policy on aquaculture is to encourage the development of viable, competitive and sustainable enterprises (including cod farming) provided that this can be done within a framework which safeguards public health and also protects the health and welfare of farmed and wild stocks.
At present there are six farming enterprises on growing cod on seven sites in Scotland. In general, the English coastline is unsuitable for marine cages, and the alternative (enclosed water re-circulation systems) is capital-intensive.
While cod-farming on this relatively modest scale may well meet a niche market demand, and there is potentially a vast market for farmed cod, it is not clear that significant expansion in cod is economically viable, given the cost of inputs and the price obtainable for final output.
The Food Standards Agency advises that there are health benefits to consumers in eating at least two portions of fish a week as part of a healthy diet, at least one of which should be oily. We have no reason to believe that farmed cod should not contribute to a healthy diet as does cod from the wild.
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