HC Deb 10 May 2004 vol 421 cc71-2W
Mr. Sanders

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his Department's policy to source sea bass used in catering outlets for which his Department is responsible from hand-line fishermen rather than pair trawlers. [167541]

Fiona Mactaggart

The Home Office does not serve sea bass in any of the catering outlets for which it is responsible. Should this position change the Home Office would follow Department for Environment, Foods and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) policy, who are the lead Department on fisheries issues, on sourcing sea bass as followsDefra supports the sourcing of sea bass from sustainable fisheries and handlining, as a relatively low impact method of fishing, can play a part in ensuring fisheries remain sustainable. However, the last report in 2003 by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas on sea bass advised that the level of exploitation of the stock at that time was sustainable and did not recommend closure of the offshore pair trawl fishery. There are currently no restrictions at a UK or Community level on the method of fishing that can be used to target bass. In addition, to address the dolphin bycatch problem associated with the pair trawl fishery, Defra-funded trials of a separate grid device to reduce dolphin bycatch are currently taking place, with the co-operation of the fishing industry.

In these circumstances, Defra's policy is not to recommend a specific source of supply for sea bass at this stage.

Fiona Mactaggart

In line with Government procurement policy most Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the Home Office is now delivered through service contracts which include a requirement to update both software and hardware to ensure that technologies are kept up to date and do not reach end of usable life. While here are major projects managing step changes of both software and hardware there is also ongoing work to ensure that both are up to date and relevant to the business use the ICT is being put to. The extent to which either is fully up to date depends on the relevance of up to date technologies to Government business requirements. All ICT investments need also to pass the test of best value and be subject to appropriate investment justification.

The following table illustrates updates to software and hardware planned or under consideration.

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