In the House...
Recent speeches and parliamentary questions in the House of Commons
09/05/01 Foot & Mouth Compensation
01/05/01 Livestock meat prices
26/04/01 Term Time Workers
24/04/01 Students (Funding)
23/04/01 Durham Health Authority
23/04/01 Cancelled Operations
23/04/01 Class Sizes
10/04/01 School Leavers
07/03/01 Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
01/02/01 Business of the House - Coxhoe Primary School
26/01/01 Local Highways (North-east)
25/01/01 Animal Experiments
25/01/01 National Lottery
24/01/01 Housing Associations (Durham)
17/01/01 Hunting with Dogs
09/01/01 Depleted Uranium
08/01/01 Higher Education (Funding)
08/01/01 Disabled People (Durham)
08/01/01 Life Sentence Prisoners
08/01/01 Mandatory Life Sentences
08/01/01 Prisons (Suicides)
08/01/01 Custodial Sentences
08/01/01 Prisons (Drugs)
20/12/00 Hunting with Dogs
Ms Quin: The average compensation payable per animal up to 4 May is £916 for cattle and £110 for sheep.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what the average compensation paid to livestock farmers is who have been affected by foot and mouth disease. 
Ms Quin: Payments to farmers depend on the mix, numbers and valuation of their livestock and may be covered by more than one claim. The average compensation payable per animal up to 4 May is £916 for cattle, £110 for sheep and £89 for pigs.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what the current average compensation payment is for a pig. 
Ms Quin: The average compensation payable up to 4 May for a pig is £89.
Ms Quin: On 1 February, the average price for clean lambs was 111.44p/kilogram liveweight. Liveweight sales are not currently taking place, but the average price reported by abattoirs slaughtering sheep for human consumption in the week ending 6 April (the latest week for which confirmed figures are available) was 193p/kilogram deadweight, equivalent to 91p/kilogram liveweight. Cows are not normally allowed to be slaughtered for human consumption and their market price is therefore determined by the rates of payment fixed under the over-30-months scheme. In February, the rate of payment was 50.936p/kilogram liveweight. The scheme is currently suspended but, were it operational, the rate for April would be 49.536p/kilogram liveweight. The change in rates results purely from movements in the Euro/sterling exchange rate.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what the market price was for a pig on 1 February; and what the current price is. 
Ms Quin: The average weekly GB pig price on 1 February was 95.85p per kg dead weight. The equivalent current market price, as reported on 25 April, is 95.54p per kg.
The problem has gone on for nearly five years and is being considered by the Law Lords in the other place. Will my right hon. Friend provide for a statement to be made to the House on how long it will take for a judgement to be made, bearing it in mind that many of these women basically have nothing to live on?
Mrs. Beckett: My hon. Friend makes an important point. As far as I can recall, this is a problem of considerable standing. I seem to remember it being raised some 15 or more years ago. He is right to express concern about the possibility that people have been given advice that has turned out not to be accurate. I fear that I cannot assure him that there will be a statement on the matter because the court case will continue in the near future, but I can certainly draw his remarks to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in case there is any information that he can give him.
Mr. Wicks: The total amount available through higher education Access and Hardship Funds to help students in financial difficulty in 2000-01 is £87 million, almost four times the amount available in 1997-98. Both full and part-time students are eligible to apply for help, and the total includes £13 million for the fee waiver scheme introduced in 1998 specifically for part-time students on benefit or low incomes. Additionally, since 1998 full-time students have been able to apply for a discretionary Hardship Loan of up to £500 each year.
The Government have made available a range of further education learner support funds for students facing financial difficulties in further education. Discretionary funding has been massively increased to support the most disadvantaged students. In addition, we are piloting Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) in 56 local education authority areas to provide weekly support to further education students assessed on the basis of parental income.
Table 1 shows the amounts available through the higher education Access and Hardship Funds since the 1995-96 academic year. The Funds were doubled in 1998-99 when part-time students became eligible to apply for help. The funding provided to meet fee waivers for part-time students since 1998-99 is separately identified.
Table 2 shows the increase in discretionary funding available to disadvantaged students in further education over the same period.
Table 3 shows the levels of funding made available up to 31 March 2001 for Education Maintenance Allowances. These figures relate to financial years since September 1999, when the pilots began.
|Academic year||Access and Hardship Fund||Fee waivers for part-time students|
|Academic year||Discretionary funding|
|Financial year||Education maintenance allowances|
Mr. Hutton: The total expenditure by weighted head of population for County Durham and Darlington health authority for 1996-97 to 1999-2000 can be found in the table.
The expenditure per weighted head figures in the table do not reflect real changes in the resources available for spend on healthcare locally over the period or provide robust comparisons between health authorities.
The accounts of health authorities for 1996-97, 1997-98 and 1998-99.
The summarisation schedules of health authorities 1999-2000.
Weighted population estimates for 1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99 and 1999-2000.
Mr. Hutton: The Department collects information on the number of operations cancelled at the last minute for non-medical reasons, and breaches of the standard to readmit patients within one month following such cancellations. This information is collected on a quarterly basis at health authority level only and the results are routinely placed in the Library. The latest figures cover the five quarters up to Quarter three (October to December 2000) of the 2000-01 financial year.
The specific information requested relating to Dryburn Hospital, Durham should be available from the Chairman of the North Durham National Health Service Trust.
Ms Estelle Morris: The number of key stage two classes in England, taught by one teacher, with 31 or more pupils was 22,817 (29.5 per cent.) in January 2001. The equivalent figure for January 1998 was 25,295 (34.3 per cent.). For information for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, I refer my hon. Friend to the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly respectively. Nationally, average class sizes for primary children have fallen under this Government. At Key Stage 1 the figure has gone down from 27.1 in January 1998 to 25.2 in January 2001. At Key Stage 2 the figure has gone down from 28.3 in January 1998 to 27.9 in 2001. This is a reflection of the fact that delivery of our infant class size pledge is not being achieved at the expense of bigger junior classes. We are making £73 million available in 2001-02 to make further progress on class sizes at Key Stage 2.
Ms Estelle Morris: The number of (a) male and (b) female pupils in England aged 16 who achieved no GCSE or GNVQ equivalent passes in the last six years are shown in the table.
|Year||(a) Male||(b) Female||Total|
Miss Melanie Johnson: The information, as set out in a Council of Mortgage Lenders press release of 31 January 2001, is as follows:
|Period||Number of properties taken into possession|
Source: Council of Mortgage Lenders
Mrs. Beckett: I understand my hon. Friend's concern for his constituents who face those difficult circumstances. I recall that, in my city of Derby, a fast-developing new estate caused the same type of difficulties because sufficient provision for children had not been planned under the Conservative party.
My hon. Friend will know how much work the Government are doing to try to improve the position in education. For example, we have the highest number of teachers employed for more than a decade--7,000 more than there were in January 1998. He will also know of the substantial programme of capital investment that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment announced recently.
I fear that I cannot undertake to find time for a special debate on the particular problems that my hon. Friend has identified in his constituency. However, I remind him that oral questions to the Department for Education and Employment will be held on Thursday next.
Mr. Hill: Funding through Local Transport Capital Settlement (Transport Policies and Programmes and Local Transport Plans) and Revenue Support Grant has provided the following for the maintenance of local highways in the north east of England over the last 10 years:
|Year||Capital funding||Revenue funding||Total|
Mr. Boateng: Information on reoffending rates is not available. In addition, standard methodology for measuring reconviction rates for all types of community penalty measures the rates from date of commencement of the penalty as opposed to the date of completion.
Two year reconviction rates following commencement of community service orders in the last five years for which data are available are shown in the table. Data for 1997 commencements are provisional.
Since 1995, community penalty reconviction rates have been based on a sample of commencements during the first quarter of the year.
|Year of commencement||Percentage reconvicted|
(*) First quarter
Mr. Mike O'Brien: At the end of 1996, 300 certificates were in force designating establishments under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. Relevant statistics for 2000 are not yet available, but the corresponding figure for 1999 is 296.
It is known that many of the designated establishments have been and are engaged upon licensed programmes of work which include aspects of drugs development. It is not, however, possible to isolate that activity from the broader categories of statistical data held centrally.
Kate Hoey: We have contacted the National Lottery distributing bodies to request such information as they hold, and I will write to my hon. Friend as soon as it is available, placing copies of my letter in the Libraries of both Houses.
Mr. Mullin: The Housing Corporation has allocated £807,000 grant to schemes in the city of Durham for the 2000-01 financial year. Allocations have not yet been made for the 2001-02 financial year.
Mr. Townend: There is a great difference between badger baiting and foxhunting, as badger baiting contained no element of pest control. It was in an entirely different class. As I said, however, we are debating foxhunting. Although I have reservations about hare coursing, I want to talk about foxhunting, as that is what really affects my constituents and I have a couple of hunts in my constituency.
If depleted uranium was not the cause of that, what was? If it was not depleted uranium, was it the toxic vaccines that were given to Mr. Robertson as a matter of course to prevent him from suffering illnesses? The previous Tory Government did nothing about that for nearly 10 years. There are many people, such as Mr. Robertson, who have deep, deep health problems, and it is the responsibility of a responsible, caring Government, such as this, to do something about it and try to find out exactly why Mr. Robertson and many of his colleagues have those illnesses.
Mr. Spellar: I fully understand the feeling that my hon. Friend has for his constituent. Indeed, several hon. Members have constituents who served in the Gulf and who are suffering from illnesses. That is precisely why previous Ministers for the Armed Forces have announced a range of studies, which the Government have continued, to try to ascertain the causes of those illnesses. There is a difference between veterans from the Gulf and those from Bosnia and Kosovo, in that those who served in the Balkans do not show higher levels of illness compared with a comparable group.
It is certainly true that a number of Gulf veterans suffer from illnesses and that they are showing considerable symptoms. However, the root causes of those illnesses is still not clear from the work that we and other allied countries have undertaken.
We have funded several programmes. Some of them have already reported, but others have still to report because they will run for a number of years and are extremely extensive. We have funded those programmes to get to the bottom of the causes of the Gulf war illnesses, to see what can be done to remedy the illnesses of those who served in the Gulf and to avoid a similar situation in the future.
Mr. Wicks: The following table shows the publicly planned funding for higher education institutions in England in each of the last five years and to 2003-04. Figures include capital and are in real terms at 1999-2000 prices.
Expenditure on higher education is planned to rise by around 18 per cent. in real terms over the period 1998-99 to 2003-04.
Student support funding is not included in the figures in the table. In addition to institutional funding, universities and higher education colleges receive funding from private sources and from other Government Departments, for example, the extra £1 billion for science infrastructure in 2002-03 and 2003-04 from OST and the Wellcome Trust, and the extra £250 million Research Council funding announced in July.
Mr. Wills: The introduction of the employment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) coincided with the abolition of the option to register as disabled under the provisions of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944. The data now collected by the Government include the number of disabled people as defined by the 1995 Act. The labour force survey is used to provide a quarterly update of the number of people of working age with a current disability as defined by the Act and their employment status. The 1995 Act uses a wider, more inclusive definition of disability than the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944.
According to the labour force survey (Summer 2000), there are 60,000 people of working age with a long-term disability as defined by the DDA living in Durham County. They account for 19 per cent. of the total working age population of Durham.
There are no equivalent statistics for children and young people below the age of 16 or for people above state pensionable age who are disabled as defined by the 1995 Act.
Mr. Boateng: Information on the average time served before release for life sentence prisoners in England and Wales over the last 10 years is given in the table. This information is also published in successive volumes of "Prison Statistics England and Wales" (table 5.5 of the 1999 edition, Cm 4805) copies of which are in the Library.
|Year of release||Average time served (years)|
Mr. Boateng: Two-year reconviction rates for standard list offences following release from prison are shown in the table. The rates are based on a sample of all discharges from prison each year. The 1997 rate is based on a sample of discharges during the first quarter of the year.
About one percentage point of the increase in the rate between 1993 and 1994 can be accounted for by the addition of a number of offences to the standard list. The effect of this change in offence coverage was a little more pronounced on the rate for the 1995 and 1996 data (around 1.4 and 1.9 percentage points respectively).
|Year of discharge||Percentage reconvicted|
(1) 1st quarter
Mr. Boateng: The latest available provisional information is for 31 November 2000. On that date there were 3,376 persons in Prison Service establishments in England and Wales serving a mandatory life sentence.
Mr. Boateng: The requested information in respect of the 114 self-inflicted deaths among male prisoners under 25 during the last five years is set out in the table.
(1) As at 20 December 2000
(2) Prisoner Escort and Custody Service (PECS)
Mr. Boateng: Available information on the proportion of persons remanded to custody who subsequently received a custodial sentence is given in the table. This information is published in successive volumes of "Prison statistics England and Wales" (Table 2.6 of the 1999 edition, Cm 4805), copies of which are in the Library.
|Final court outcome-immediate custody(2)|
(1) Includes persons remanded in custody by magistrates during proceedings or on committal.
(2) Includes detention in a young offender institution and unsuspended imprisonment.
(3) Estimated percentages.
Mr. Boateng: The numbers of positive mandatory drug tests recorded in each of the last five years is given in the table.
|Year||Number of positive MDT results(1)|
(1) Includes prisoners testing positive on more than one occasion
(2) Year to 30 November 2000
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been successfully prosecuted for smuggling drugs into prison in each of the last five years (a) in the UK, (b) at Frankland Prison and (c) at Durham Prison. 
Mr. Boateng: Figures for the number of people successfully prosecuted for smuggling drugs into prisons are not recorded centrally. The best available measure is the number of visitors arrested, figures for which are given in the table.
(1) Up to 20 December
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): I make no apologies for my views. I am an animal lover. I carry a picture of my Staffordshire bull terrier around in my pocket and I hate cruelty to animals. I am thinking of putting a picture of my wife in my wallet, but the Staffordshire bull terrier currently takes precedence. To be honest, I think that I like animals better than people. I am, therefore, completely opposed to hunting a live animal with hounds, in any form. [Interruption.] Fortunately, my wife does not watch the pantomime that goes on in the House on the television. Neither does she listen to it on the radio, so I am pretty safe.
During my years in Parliament, I have listened to many debates on hunting and have heard evidence to back claims that it causes significant pain, suffering and distress to the animals involved. Over the years, that has convinced me even more that hunting with hounds is barbaric. By agreeing to the Bill on Second Reading, we can proceed to vote on option 3, which will ban foxhunting all together.
Mr. Grieve: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Mr. Steinberg: No; I have just commenced my speech. I have listened to some of the hon. Gentleman's interventions and I do not want to waste time.
I want to follow a slightly different path in my remarks from that taken by some other hon. Members. Hunt supporters try to make us believe that they care for the hounds, dogs and horses that are involved in hunting. However, I am sorry to say that wild animals are not the only victims of hunting. The dogs and hounds that are involved in hunting are almost forgotten, but many of them suffer at the hands of hunt supporters.
The worst extreme of their involvement is called terrier work. The supporters and followers of most foxhunts include terrier men and their dogs, whose function is to deal with foxes that find an underground refuge from the hunt. It is colloquially said that such foxes have gone to earth. I accept that some people participate in foxhunts because of the thrill of the chase, socialising, equestrian interests or the desire to watch the dogs work, but I know that some of them, including terrier men, gain their enjoyment from the killing of foxes.
Mr. Grieve: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Mr. Steinberg: I have just said that I shall not do so.
For some terrier men, the hunt starts only when the huntsman's horn signals that a fox has gone to earth. Small terrier dogs enter the fox's refuge to locate the sheltering animal. If the fox does not bolt, a vicious underground battle can occur between it and the terrier. Both the dog and the fox inevitably suffer injuries, which are sometimes so appalling that they result in the death of both. The terrier men listen for the snarls and growls underground and then dig down with spades to expose the combatants. That grisly entertainment can take hours, during which the huntsman, his dogs and the riders have usually moved off to seek another fox. It is uncommon for the average rider or hunt follower to be in close attendance at what is called a dig-out. In fact, such involvement is discouraged. The codes of the master of foxhounds state that
only the terrierman and an assistant should be involved in the dig out.
Once the terrified fox is exposed, it can either be dragged out and shot or killed by a single blow--if the poor animal is lucky--from a spade. Sometimes more than one blow is needed. Disturbingly, terrier work has developed into a sport, if one wants to call it that. As a sport, it is divorced from hunting with dogs and has no season, supervision or legal restriction. The National Federation of Working Terrier Clubs boasts between 4,000 and 5,000 members, but at least an equal number of participants do not belong to any organisation. A terrier gang is a small group of men with assorted terriers, lurchers, nets, iron bars and spades. When the gang finds a fox refuge, a terrier is sent down to confront the fox. Radio transmitters are often fitted to the terriers' collars to help in locating the fox.
Mr. David Taylor: Does my hon. Friend agree that one further major disadvantage of the terrier work that he describes is that it makes it more difficult to combat badger baiting? The people who are involved in badger baiting often argue that they are digging out foxes, which remains legal, and are not engaged in badger baiting, which is illegal.
Mr. Steinberg: I shall come to that point in a moment.
The unfortunate fox is dug out with spades and killed, often after being baited by the dogs. It may also be removed to be used later as a sport. It is estimated that about 50,000 foxes are killed in that barbaric way every year. When foxes are under attack by so many dogs, they succumb quickly--too quickly for the terrier enthusiasts, who are seeking to test the gameness of their dogs. That brings me to the point made by my hon. Friend. Of course, a contest with a badger is a better test, so it is unsurprising that many terrier men stoop to the illegal digging and baiting of badgers.
The RSPCA recently took up a court case in which a Lakeland terrier suffered appalling injuries when three terrier men, who were trespassing at the time, forced it into a fox covert after blocking all its exits. I am pleased to say that the court found in favour of the RSPCA in a landmark decision that gave legal recognition to the fact that people who use terriers for hunting foxes can be guilty of cruelly ill-treating their dogs, not to mention imposing suffering on the fox. Let us be clear about such behaviour. The people involved put their dogs into a confined, underground environment in the knowledge that their quarry will defend itself and will injure or kill their dogs by doing so. Those are not the actions of animal lovers--it is barbarity, pure and simple.
The sport has grown to such an extent that terrier men now have their own monthly magazine, which is entitled "Earth Dog--Running Dog". The magazine is intended for those who use terriers, greyhounds and lurchers for hunting and killing wild animals. This quality publication contains accounts of modern terrier work, written by the enthusiasts themselves, and bears the logo of the British Field Sports Society.
I should like to give a few examples of enthusiasts' contributions to the magazine. An article published in "Earth Dog--Running Dog" in 1995 stated:
The fox can punish and his attentions can cause a terrier's head and muzzle to swell like a pumpkin, though in this day and age antibiotics control the worst effects.An article published in the magazine in March 1996 stated:
Breaking through I found a very dead fox and a nearly-dead terrier exhausted and bearing horrendous lacerations to his head; the old boy was nearly a goner.Finally, a 1997 article stated:
I set about moving a large rock that was now blocking my progress. It proved to be the end of the road. When I rolled it away, there was Turk and the fox both dead.That extract is taken from a description of a 30-hour dig.
The close association of such people in registered hunts is highlighted in a gruesome article published in The Sunday Telegraph Magazine in August 1997, in which the reporter, Adam Nicholson, describes his experience at a hunt in the Lake district. The article states:
From above ground we could hear the terrible fighting below us. The screaming of the dog and fox was only partly muffled by the layers of earth and rock that separated us from it. The noise moved for about ten minutes around different parts of the earth and then went quiet . . . Then the huntsman said, "All right, that's us then," and headed back downhill.The reporter, being a normal sort of person, inquired after the terrier, and received the following caring reply:
Oh . . . that's all right. It'll either be dead and the fox will be eating it, or the fox'll be dead and she will be eating the fox. Don't worry, I'm sure she'll be back home in a couple of days, once she's slept the whole thing off.The reporter was told that the dog did return, but was given no details on the injuries that she would obviously have incurred.
Let me turn to the other victims: the hounds. Foxhounds do not hunt foxes by natural instinct. They are trained through the cubbing season. Cub hunting is the process by which the young and inexperienced hounds are brought into the pack and taught to chase and kill foxes that are around four or five months old. Sadly, hunts routinely destroy young foxhounds that take no interest in hunting or are not useful members of the pack. Hunts also kill hounds once they are considered too old to hunt.
That usually occurs when they are around six years old--an age that is less than half of their normal life expectancy. That results in the premature death of thousands of hounds that are killed by hunt kennel staff every year.
In the event of a ban, there would be no need for a single hound to be destroyed. The Canine Defence League and the RSPCA do not see any reason why hunting hounds could not be re-homed as domestic pets, or retrained and used as drag-hunters. The RSPCA offered to re-home the hounds from the New Forest Buckhounds, which closed in 1998. Disgracefully, the offer was refused and every hound was wantonly destroyed, in a political move--
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman has used up his time.
Reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO