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double the uptake of the agri-environment entry-level scheme in-field options, covering 40,000 hectares on top of current levels.
increase uncropped land by 20,000 hectares from January 2008 levels. The campaign will also seek to improve the environmental management of at least 60,000 hectares of this land.
introduce voluntary measures on other land covering at least 30,000 hectares and up to 50,000 hectares.
All this will be on top of a baseline of the land already being managed for environmental benefit which will be measured this autumn. The campaign will tailor activities at a local level working through county groups that will be set up by farmers. I have made it clear there is a mandatory fallback, which could be introduced at a future date if the campaign is judged not to be working, but we will give it our full support.
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn): The Minister for Food, Farming and Environment represented the United Kingdom at Junes Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg. Richard Lochhead MSP also attended.
On agriculture, presidency efforts to agree Council conclusions on the future of direct payments under CAP reform were rebuffed. With six statements of opposition, (including the UK), the document was adopted as presidency conclusions.
At a closed lunch, Ministers discussed the difficulties in the dairy sector. The Commission informed the debate, which took place in the light of recently adopted European Council conclusions on the dairy sector, with a quarterly report on diary market trends. A number of member states spoke on the present difficulties on the milk market, and questioned the role and power of retailers in managing prices. However none came forward with ideas of what additional measures could be introduced beyond those already in hand.
There were nine agriculture AOB items. The Dutch Minister encouraged Ministers to reflect on the specific recommendations from CSD-17 in respect of agriculture and climate change in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate change negotiations. The incoming presidency (Sweden) also plans to discuss this, notably at its informal Council in September. The UK underlined the importance of the debate and distributed copies of its recently published climate projections for the UK.
France introduced its paper calling for the rapid implementation of recommendations made by the European Parliament in respect of the Commissions 2008 communication on food prices, and the soon-to-be-adopted recommendations of the high level group on the competitiveness of the agro-food industry. Many member states shared the French concerns, though the UK cautioned that any new regulation needed to be proportionate and evidence-based.
The presidency outlined the progress it had made on the control of trade in illegally logged timber member states, including the UK, urged rapid action to agree the dossier and called for inclusion a ban on the import of illegally logged timber. Sweden, as incoming presidency, said it aimed to reach a Council common position by December 2009.
Next, the presidency explained their work to reach compromises on the proposals to ban the use of seven pesticides which had not been approved by the relevant regulatory committee. Compromises had been reached on three, which would be approved as A points at the June Environment Council. Work was continuing on the other four.
Finally on agriculture, the UK thanked the Commission for the flexibility it had shown so far to help reduce the compliance costs of sheep EID, but stressed that the dossier remained of concern within the UK because of the impact on the farming industry. The UK put forward further proposals for reducing the costs of the regulation whilst retaining the benefits and protection provided by sheep EID, however the proposals were not supported by the Commission.
On fisheries, the Council adopted pre-prepared conclusions on the importance of the aquaculture industry, principally welcoming the Commissions April communication designed to give new impetus to the sustainable development of aquaculture in the EU.
Ministers then held a structured debate on some of the key issues outstanding in the negotiations to agree a new control regulation for EU fisheries, which governs the obligations for monitoring fishing activity to ensure compliance with EU legal obligations. On the main issues, member states were broadly in agreement that there should be tighter controls and better use of technologies to ensure a more cost-effective and workable enforcement regime.
Turning to fishing opportunities for 2010, the Commission pointed to its communication setting out the intended approach to setting catch limits for 2010. When taken with existing multi-annual recovery and management plans for certain stocks, and the scientific advice due for publication on 26 June, an accurate impression of the likely outcomes for each stock can be determined. The UK and others supported the high- grading ban, and the UK noted that economic impact assessment should be undertaken before TAC reductions were agreed to.
Finally under any other business, the Commission gave an oral six-monthly report on CFP simplification, noting more streamlining and the deletion of some obsolete regulations. The Commissioner also thanked member states for having responded well to their obligations on bluefin tuna in the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Huw Irranca-Davies): The 2008-09 annual report and accounts for the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science will be laid before Parliament today.
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband): I am delighted to announce that the Government are to honour the vital contribution made by the military and civilian members of the Government code and cypher school who served at Bletchley Park and its outstations during the second world war. A commemorative badge will be awarded to all surviving veterans in recognition of their great success in intercepting and decrypting enciphered messages. Enigma is the most widely recognised example of this work, but Bletchley Park and its outstations had many more successes against different cipher machines and manual ciphers. The thousands of people who worked at Bletchley Park and its outstations played a vital part in the war effort, and kept their work secret until the Government avowed its success. The awarding of a commemorative badge is a fitting recognition of their loyal service.
The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) will be handling applications for badges. The GCHQ website (www.gchq.gov.uk) contains the necessary details which will also be available on request from GCHQ and at Bletchley Park and other museums. The commemorative badge will be launched at Bletchley Park on 16 July and a celebratory event will be held later this year.
The Secretary of State for Health (Andy Burnham): As I announced in my oral statement to the House on 2 July 2009, Official Report, column 497, part of the move to the new treatment phase of our response to the current swine flu pandemic will involve a new way of collecting and publishing information about swine flu.
The treatment phase refers to the period when antivirals are used only for treating those who have contracted the illness; contact tracing ceases as does providing antivirals for prophylaxis. The swabbing and testing of all cases also ceases.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) had previously been collecting, compiling and releasing United Kingdom figures on a daily basis on their website. These statistics set out the number of laboratory confirmed cases, as well as clinically presumed cases.
Because we will rely on clinical diagnosis instead of laboratory confirmation of swabs to identify cases of swine flu, we cannot continue to measure total number of cases in the same way as we have been doing. This is because without testing everyone we would not know how many swine flu cases there are among other cases of influenza-like illnesses.
Therefore, to replace the data previously published, we will need to move to higher level estimates of spread. This will be combined with other key indicators to give a fuller picture of the progress of swine flu.
estimates of influenza-like illness cases, estimated using two different surveillance systems;
the number of calls to NHS information lines for colds/flu;
the number of deaths of patients with swine flu (reported deaths where the cases have tested positive for swine flu); and
the number of hospitalisations (any swine flu inpatient over the past 24 hours who has been H1N1 swabbed or clinically presumed).
This change reflects the World Health Organisation-led move away from the comprehensive assessment component of surveillance, where the focus is on characterising the clinical, epidemiological and virological features of a new disease, to the monitoring component, where the focus is on monitoring geographical spread, trends, intensity and impact.
The UK has well established, and internationally respected, surveillance systems for monitoring incidence and assessing the impact of seasonal influenza. These systems have operated well through the normal flu season over the last few years and we will build on them as we refine the revised surveillance system for swine flu.
The revised system will be augmented by additional surveillance activities that are relevant to the pandemic situation. This will include continuing to assess the severity of disease associated with this novel virus, and monitoring changes in the characteristics of the virus.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Paul Clark): The Government introduced restrictions on smoking in enclosed workplaces, public places and vehicles in England from 1 July 2007. These provisions are described in the Health Act 2006 and aim to save thousands of lives over the next decade by reducing both exposure to hazardous second-hand smoke and overall smoking rates.
The Health Act 2006 includes provisions designed to prohibit smoking in enclosed public places and vehicles, but does not cover ships operating at sea or on inland waters. Therefore, the Government stated their intention to introduce similar provisions to provide protection
from second-hand smoke for people on ships operating in UK waters (including the territorial sea and inland waters).
In 2007, the Department for Transport held a consultation exercise seeking, first, views on how such restrictions should be applied. Following that consultation, draft regulations have now been produced and are being made available for public consultation from today.
The draft regulations being consulted on are made under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. They will apply to all ships operating within the 12-mile UK territorial waters, which include inland waters, providing they carry passengers or employees, unless the ship is exercising the right of innocent passage or the right of transit passage through straits used for international navigation. These provisions will extend to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so that a consistent set of UK restrictions can be applied.
Smoking will be prohibited except in areas of the ship designated by the master in accordance with the regulations which may include designated smoking cabins on cruise ships or passenger ferries. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency will hold the responsibility for enforcement of these provisions with a scale of penalties similar to those laid down in the Health Act.
Pleasure vessels such as yachts, motor cruisers and small private fishing vessels, are exempted from the smoke free provisions. However, any such vessels carrying fare paying passengers or operating with an employed crew will fall into scope of the regulations.
Copies of the consultation paper and draft regulations have been sent to a wide range of representatives in the shipping industry and they will have 12 weeks to respond to the consultation. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House. Further copies of the consultation paper are available on the DfT website at: www.dft.gov.uk.