§ Angela Smith
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) how many inspectors' visits to check that the conditions of the Mink Keeping Order 1992 and the Mink Keeping Regulations 1975 (as amended) were being adhered to were carried out in(a) 1993, (b) 1994, (c) 1995, (d) 1996 and (e) 1997; 
(2) how many inspectors were employed to ensure the implementation of the Mink Keeping Order in (a) 1993, (b) 1994, (c) 1995, (d) 1996 and (e) 1997. 
§ Mr. Morley
Inspections of mink farms are carried out by advisers from the Farming and Rural Conservation Agency (FRCA), an Executive Agency of MAFF, as part of their statutory duties as the Department's wildlife advisers. FRCA are resourced to carry out all necessary visits to mink farms to ensure that the security arrangements in place meet the requirements laid down in the Mink Keeping Regulations 1975. Until recently, only one site visit was normally made each year at the time of the issue of the licence. However, to ensure that the necessary security standards are maintained throughout the year, an additional unannounced inspection will now be made to each farm during the year. As before, inspections will also be carried out following any reports of escaped mink.715W
§ Angela Smith
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) when the Mink Keeping Order licences next come up for renewal for each of the farms currently licensed; and for what period of time licences are issued; 
(2) how many mink farms were issued licences under the Mink Keeping Order in (a) 1993, (b) 1994, (c) 1995, (d) 1996 and (e) 1997; 
(3) if he will list the names and addresses of the farms currently licensed under the Mink Keeping Order; 
(4) how many licences were granted for the transportation of mink in (a) 1993, (b) 1994, (c) 1995, (d) 1996 and (e) 1997. 
§ Mr. Morley
The number of mink farms issued licences over the last five years are as follows:
Period/Year ending issued licences Number of mink farms 31 March 1993 19 31 March 1994 13 31 March 1995 13 31 March 1996 14 31 March 1997 13
Where a mink farmer holds a licence to keep mink, a separate licence is not required for the specific action of transporting live mink.
The mink farms currently licensed are located in the following counties:
County Number of licensed mink farms Cornwall 1 Dorset 1 Hampshire 1 Isle of Wight 1 Lancashire 6 Northumberland 1 South Yorkshire 1 Staffordshire 1 West Yorkshire 3 Total 16
The Department's policy is not to disclose the exact location of fur farms but to give only the county in which a licence is applicable. This is to protect mink fur farmers from the attentions of individuals or organisations who might seek to disrupt by unlawful means the activity of licensed fur farming.
Licences are valid for twelve months and the number expiring in each month is as follows:
Month Number of licences expiring December 1997 6 Janaury 1998 — February 1998 1 March 1998 1 April 1998 3 May 1998 1 June 1998 1 July 1998 — August 1998 —
Month Number of licences expiring September 1998 1 October 1998 — November 1998 1 December 1998 1
§ Angela Smith
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what estimate his Department has made of the numbers of mink that have escaped into the wild from mink farms in(a) 1993, (b) 1994, (c) 1995, (d) 1996 and (e) 1997; 
(2) how many mink farms had a licence revoked or suspended in (a) 1993, (b) 1994, (c) 1995, (d) 1996 and (e) 1997; 
(3) how many prosecutions his Department has initiated for keeping mink without a licence under the Mink Keeping Order since 1993; 
(4) how many mink farms have been allowed to operate without a licence under the Mink Keeping Order; 
(5) what penalties exist for mink farms found to have breached a condition or conditions of the Mink Keeping Order or the Mink Keeping Regulations. 
§ Mr. Morley
I am not aware of any unlicensed mink farms being allowed to operate. All mink farm licensees are sent reminder letters before their licence expires and the Department will chase licensees who do not respond. Where an existing licence holder ceases to keep mink, the Department asks for information on the arrangements for the disposal of the mink. Where mink have been sold to other farms, the Department will check that the new owner is licensed to keep mink. Any reports of unlicensed farms are referred to the Investigation Branch of the
Department's Legal Division for consideration. Since 1993, one prosecution has been undertaken for keeping mink on unlicenced premises. No licences have been revoked or suspended during that period.
Licensed mink fur farmers are required to report any escapes to the Department; the numbers of mink reported to the Department as having escaped from fur farms are detailed. All were the result of reported vandalism to licensed mink farms:
Period Number of mink reported to have escaped Year ending 31 March 1994 nil Year ending 31 March 1995 nil Year ending 31 March 1996 3,005 Year ending 31 March 1997 nil Eight months to end November 1997 300
Under the Destructive Imported Animals Act 1932, anyone failing to comply with the conditions of a licence may be subject to a fine not exceeding level 1 on the standard scale, currently £200 and to a further penalty of £2 for every day on which the offence continues after conviction. In addition, licences can be revoked.