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Written Answers

Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 4 June 2003

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 4 June 2003

Cabinet Office

Internet

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what role Government Offices will play in the new campaign to increase internet usage; and if he will make a statement. [115542]

Between 1999 and April 2003, Regional Government Offices were responsible for negotiating contracts between the Department for Education and Skills and over 2,800 UK online centres funded by Capital Modernisation funding. All regional Offices were informed about the Get Started campaign and invited to get involved. During the campaign, people will be encouraged to visit UK online centres offering free internet starter sessions.

Secondments

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many civil servants were seconded to private sector industry in (a) 2000–01, (b) 2001–02 and (c) 2002–03. [115604]

350 civil servants were seconded to the private sector (industry and commerce) in the financial year 2000–01 and 607 in the financial year 2001–02. The Cabinet Office Interchange Unit will shortly be seeking statistical information from Departments for the 2002–03 financial year.

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many people were seconded to the Civil Service from private industry in the last year for which figures are available. [115605]

409 people were seconded into the Civil Service from the private sector (industry and commerce) in the financial year 2001–02. This is the most recent period for which the Cabinet Office has data.

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many employees have been seconded from Capita to the Cabinet Office since 1997; for how long they worked in the Office; and what positions they held. [115625]

No records are held for secondments prior to 1999. From 1999 to 2003, there were no secondments from Capita to my Department.

Sickness Absence

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many staff in the Department have been on long-term sick leave in each of the last two years. [115855]

I refer to the answer I gave to the hon. Member on 7 May 2003, Official Report, column 697W.

Transport

Concessionary Travel (Pensioners)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make extra funds available for local authorities to pay for free, full-fare travel opportunities for pensioners in England. [116951]

I refer to my reply of 23 January 2003 to the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Rosindell), Official Report, columns 508–09W. We have no plans to make extra funds available for local authorities in England beyond the present provision.

Railways

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library a copy of the WS Atkins report for the Strategic Rail Authority on a North-South rail line. [115715]

Since the report contains commercially sensitive information, supplied by third parties on a confidential basis, it would not be appropriate to do so.

Road Traffic Accidents

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to prevent sleep-related driving accidents. [116024]

We are concerned about sleep-related road accidents and have an extensive programme of publicity and research aimed at reducing these.Campaigns to warn drivers of the dangers of falling asleep at the wheel have run since August 2000 and have included leaflets, posters, TV and radio advertising. Most recently, radio adverts were run over Easter and the May bank holidays advising drivers to take a break. These were reinforced by some 190 truck backs, delivering to Moto, Sainsburys, Asda and others, carrying the 'Don't Drive Tired' message over the April to June period this year. We have also recently produced a new public information film, for use by TV stations, to remind drivers to take proper breaks during long journeys.Advice on how to avoid and combat driver tiredness is in The Highway Code and on the DfT's road safety website at: www.think.dft.gov.ukThe Department has also undertaken considerable research to study driver sleepiness. The University of Loughborough Sleep Research Laboratory has carried out a series of road audits into sleep-related vehicle accidents on sections of selected trunk roads and motorways in the UK. The results were published in February 2001 in Road Safety Research Reports No. 21 and 22, available on-line at: www.roads.dft.gov.uk/ roadsafety/index.htm A report on six more audits is due to be published in the summer. A project to study the effectiveness of motorway service areas in reducing fatigue-related accidents is also under way.

Vehicle Licences

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will introduce a payment scheme to reward local authorities who enable the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to recover unpaid licence fees from vehicle owners; and if he will make a statement. [116315]

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is working closely with local authorities to tackle the problem of vehicle excise duty (VED) evasion. Enforcing VED helps to improve the accuracy of DVLA's database of vehicle keepers, which in turn, enables local authorities and the police to identify those who offend on parking charges, speeding, and other offences.DVLA does not charge local authorities for information on the name and address of vehicle keepers, and there are no plans to introduce a payment scheme for local authorities who provide information on unlicensed vehicles to DVLA. However, those local authorities that have taken on devolved powers to wheel clamp and impound unlicensed vehicles are able to retain the penalties charged to offenders to release their vehicles. Furthermore, the Government are in discussion with these authorities to see what else can be done to help with the costs associated with this initiative.

Environment, Food And Rural Affairs

Animal Species

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list for each animal species to which they apply the nature of the legal requirements upon the driver of a vehicle which kills one of the species; and if she will make a statement. [115712]

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 protects all wild birds. It is an offence to kill, injure or take any wild bird (Section 1). Under Section 5(1)(e) it is an offence to use any mechanically propelled vehicle in immediate pursuit of a wild bird for the propose of killing or taking that bird.Certain species of animals, listed on Schedule 5, are also protected by the 1981 Act. It is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take any wild animal included on Schedule 5, unless it can shown that it had not been killed or taken in contravention of the provision of the 1981 Act.Sections 4(2)(c) for birds and 10(3)(c) for animals provides a possible defence for the driver who may kill or injure a bird or Schedule 5 animal; because a person "shall not be guilty of an offence by reason of any act made unlawful if he shows that the act was the incidental result of a lawful operation and could not reasonably have been avoided".Certain other animals listed on Schedule 6 of the 1981 Act may only be killed or taken by certain methods. It is an offence under Section 9(2)(e) of the 1981 Act to use any mechanically propelled vehicle in immediate pursuit of a Schedule 6 animal.

Under Section 1(2) of the 1981 Act it is an offence to possess any wild bird unless it can be shown that it was killed or taken not in contravention of the Act. A similar defence exists for Schedule 5 animals.

Penalties for offences committed under Part I of the 1981 Act are a maximum fine of £5,000 and/or six months custodial sentence.

In addition the Deer Act 1991 makes it an offence in Section 4(4) for any person to (a) discharge any firearm, or project any missile, from any mechanically propelled vehicle at any deer, or (b) use any mechanically propelled vehicle for the purpose of driving deer.

It is also an offence under section 170(4) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 not to report an accident which occurs owing to the presence of a motor vehicle on the road by which damage is caused to an animal other than an animal in or on that motor vehicle or a trailer drawn by that motor vehicle.

("Animal" means horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog).

The maximum penalty is £5,000 and/or six months custodial sentence, with between 5–10 penalty points on a licence or a disqualification.

Alternative Fuels

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what targets she has set for the use of industrial crops for alternative fuel use. [115306]

The Energy White Paper, published earlier this year, sets out the Government's aspiration to achieve the production of 20 per cent. of the UKfs electricity through renewable sources by 2020. Specific targets have not been set for different renewable technologies and the market will decide which are developed. Biomass, including purpose-grown industrial crops, could become one of the largest contributors to the renewables mix by 2020. Funding under the Energy Crops Scheme is aimed at establishing around 20,000 ha of purpose-grown energy crops by 2006. The Bio-energy Capital Grants Scheme is aimed at developing projects fuelled by purpose-grown energy crops and other biomass to produce around 100MW of electricity and the production of heat and combined heat and power.The recently agreed Directive on the Promotion of Biofuels and other Renewable Fuels for Road Transport requires the UK and other Member States to set their own indicative targets for the use of biofuels and other renewable fuels in their areas. The Government will consult key stakeholders in due course on targets. The Government is promoting the production of biofuels through the existing 20 pence per litre duty incentive for biodiesel and the intention announced in Budget 2003 to introduce a similar duty incentive for bioethanol with effect from January 2005.

Animal By-Products

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how and when her Department intends to advise hunt kennels on how to upgrade their incinerators to knackers yard standards according to the EU Animal By-products Regulations. [115087]

Interim Guidance on Incinerators is available on the Defra website at the following address: http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/by-prods/default.htmWe are discussing more detailed guidance with interested organisations. Once it is finalised, we will make it available to hunt kennels and other premises. In the interim period, hunt kennels are advised to contact their local Defra Animal Health Office for advice.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will estimate the annual number of each species of animal affected by the EU Animal By-products Regulations which will require disposal. [115089]

Information regarding the annual number of each animal species requiring disposal is not available.However, the industry has estimated that something in the order of, at least, 39 million carcases of fallen stock need to be collected and disposed of annually.The estimated number of animals requiring disposal is made up of the following:

1,316,000 adult animal carcasses (bovine, ovine, swine and equine);
2,262,000 immature animal carcasses (bovine, ovine, swine and equine); and
36,000,000 poultry carcasses (avians).

In arriving at this figure, assumptions have been made about mortality rates for adult and immature animals.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how the accrued funds from the proposed national fallen stock collection scheme will be allocated to the approved renderers;[115085](2) if an approved renderer of the proposed national fallen stock scheme will be obliged to pick up all the fallen stock within a defined geographical area. [115086]

Until the viability of the proposed national fallen stock scheme is known, it is not possible to ascertain how any accrued funds might be allocated or on what detailed basis the scheme may operate.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the costs likely to be incurred by a farmer to dispose of (a) a cow, (b) a sheep and (c) a pig under the proposed national fallen stock collection scheme. [115088]

It is not possible to provide separate costings for (a) a cow, (b) a sheep and (c) a pig, as the proposed national fallen stock scheme is based on a cost per holding rather than a cost per animal basis.The proposed fee was £100 per year for the average holding. There would be a discounted rate of £50 for small holdings and a higher rate of £200 for large holdings.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the landfill sites approved to take ash from animal incineration plants. [115090]

The Environment Agency's database shows, as at 16 May 2002, 77 landfill sites approved to dispose of ash arising from incinerators burning Specified Risk Material. A list of landfill sites has been placed in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what allowances will be made for hill farmers under the proposed national fallen stock scheme. [115091]

Although no specific allowance is made for hill farmers under the proposed national fallen stock scheme, we recognise that there may be practical difficulties in collecting and removing fallen stock from upland areas.Although we expect hill farmers to make every effort to dispose of any carcases in accordance with the Animal By-Products Regulation, we will be asking enforcement agencies to take a pragmatic approach during wintertime and poor weather conditions.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what research she has commissioned into the effect which the Animal By-products Regulation will have on small abattoirs; and what the results of that research were; [115184](2) what assessment she has made of the change in

(a) running and (b) capital costs for small abattoirs as a result of the Animal By-product Regulations. [115187]

On 1 November 2002 the Department wrote to all slaughterhouse operators to obtain information on existing blood disposal routes. Analysis of the responses indicated that a number of red meat slaughterhouses disposed of their blood direct to sewer and did not have collection tanks. As many as one third of slaughterhouses expected to have to install suitable storage facilities.The Department has worked closely with the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) and other industry experts to develop guidance on simple, low cost ways in which slaughterhouses could comply with the new requirements. This suggests that the cost of providing the necessary facilities could be as low as £200 but if more substantial work is needed it could be several thousand pounds.It has been estimated that the ban on applying raw blood to land or direct to sewer may increase the cost of disposing of blood from around £16/tonne, for landspreading, to £60-£80/tonne for rendering, incineration or treatment in an approved biogas or composting plant.A partial Regulatory Impact Assessment on the Animal By-products Regulation is in the Library of the House, as part of the consultation on the enforcing Regulations dated 27 January 2003.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what grants are being made available by other EU member states to help small abattoirs implement the Animal By-products Regulations; [115186](2) what effect she estimates the Animal By-products Regulation will have on her plans to make small abattoirs an essential link of the chain of quality meat production and direct food retailing; [115181](3) what discussions she has had with the European Communities about grant funding for small abattoirs to provide capital to upgrade to the standards required under the Animal By-products Regulations. [115185]

Information is not available about grants to help small abattoirs implement the Animal By-products Regulation in other member states and we have had no discussion with the EC about grant funding for UK abattoirs. However, the Regional Development Agencies are analysing the needs for selective assistance in their regions to encourage innovation and investment in the meat supply chain. It is of course a prerequisite that abattoirs qualifying for any such assistance fully comply with all relevant hygiene and environmental legislation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to ensure that fallen stock will be collected within 24 hours of death under the proposed national fallen stock scheme; what penalty will apply for collection after 24 hours; and to whom that penalty will apply. [116591]

Although no specific time has been specified we would envisage that fallen stock will, once an approved collector has been notified, normally be collected within 24 hours and not more than 48 hours.This would be consistent with existing contractual arrangements where collectors are expected to carry out the collection of fallen bovines and ovines within 24 hours for TSE testing purposes.The Animal By-Products Regulation requires animal by-products to be consigned or disposed of "without undue delay", which in essence means as soon as is reasonably practicable, taking into account the circumstances of the case.Any person in possession of animal by-products, such as fallen stock, who do not comply with the Regulation may face prosecution. Prosecutions may result in a fine of up to £5,000 and six months' imprisonment for cases heard in a magistrate's court or an unlimited fine and up to two years imprisonment for cases heard in the Crown Court.

Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from what date the policy of not publishing the results of welfare checks conducted by the State Veterinary Surgery applied. [115315]

The results of veterinary inspections are confidential to the people responsible for the animals inspected. But summaries of such farm welfare inspections have been published in the reports of the Chief Veterinary officer for many years.

Beef Exports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total tonnage of beef exports from the United Kingdom was in each of the last seven years. [115267]

The following table shows the volume of beef exports from the United Kingdom for each of the last seven years (1996–2002).

Tonnes million
YearTotal
199675
199710
199813
19999
20009
20018
20028

Note:

From 1997 onwards exports are mainly from the UK as country of dispatch and not as country of origin.

Source:

HM Customs and Excise, Data prepared by Statistics (Commodities and Food) Accounts and Trade, ESD, DEFRA, 2002 data is provisional and subject to amendment

Biodiversity

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to help reduce the rate of biodiversity loss throughout the world. [116046]

The World Summit on Sustainable Development set a target to significantly reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity at the global, regional, sub regional and national levels by the year 2010. A challenge of this magnitude requires international co-operation. We are working within existing international agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to this end.The CBD reviewed the outcomes from WSSD at its intersessional meeting in March 2003. The UK was among those Parties which pressed successfully for a recommendation that each Conference of Parties should assess progress towards the target. To faciliate this, the CBD together with the United Nations Environmental Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre organised an international conference in London from 21–23 May 2003 with financial support from my Department. The meeting made a number of recommendations on how we might better co-ordinate efforts to achieve the goal and monitor progress towards it.The Darwin Initiative is one means by which the Department provides direct support to other countries to help safeguard their biodiversity. This grant programme launched at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 assists countries that are rich in biodiversity but poor in resources to conserve and sustainably use their biological diversity. Phase II of the Initiative launched in November 2002 by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, focuses on enhanced legacy to produce greater biodiversity gains, increasing partnership with local organisations and communities and stronger links to the aims of the Convention on Biological Diversity. So far it has committed over 30 million to over 300 projects with links to some 100 developing countries and countries with economies on transition. On 2 August, the Prime Minister announced an increase in funding from £3 million per annum rising to £7 million a year by 2005–06.Last year also saw the largest ever replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) which now stands at three billion dollars over four years. In addition to its assessed contribution to this replenishment, the UK contributed a voluntary additional amount of £15 million, making a total contribution of around £118 million. A substantial proportion of the GEF goes to biodiversity projects and within that a substantial proportion to protectedareas.

Bovine Tuberculosis

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cases of bovine TB there have been in Cumbria in each of the last five years. [116174]

The number of new bovine TB herd incidents in Cumbria 1998–2002 is given in the following table.

New Herd Incidents in Cumbria 1998–2002
YearNumber
19988
19999
20004
20012
200233

Note:

In 2001, the TB testing and control programme was largely suspended due to the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak. Since testing resumed in 2002, resources have been concentrated on herds with overdue TB tests which would have had a longer period in which to contract the disease. Also the proportion of high risk heards being tested post-FMD is greater than that prior to the outbreak. As a result, the number of new herd incidents in 2002 is not comparable to that of previous years.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the incidence was of bovine tuberculosis (a) Haltemprice and Howden, (b) the East Riding of Yorkshire and (c) England in the last five years for which figures are available. [116762]

The data requested is not available for (a) Haltemprice and Howden or (b) the East Riding of Yorkshire. However, the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in Humberside and England, from 1998 to 2001, is given in the following table

TB Herd incidence 1998–20021
(percentages)
YearHumbersideEngland
19980.002.43
19990.002.63
TB Herd incidence 1998–20021
(percentages)
YearHumbersideEngland
20000.003.29
20010.003.94
20020.374.78
1Confirmed new herd incidents as a percentage of tests on unrestricted herds.

Note:

In 2001, the TB testing and control programme was largely suspended due to the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak. Since testing resumed in 2002, resources have been concentrated on herds with overdue TB tests which would have had a longer period in which to contract the disease. Also the proportion of high risk herds being tested post-FMD is greater than that prior to the outbreak. As a result, herd incidence in 2002 is not comparable to that of previous years.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cattle were slaughtered in the last five years in (a) Haltemprice and Howden, (b) the East Riding of Yorkshire and (c) England and wales as part of the campaign against teberculosis. [116762]

The data requested is not available for (a) Haltemprice and Howden or (b)the East Riding of Yorkshire. However, the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in Humberside and England, from 1998 to 2002, is given in the following table.

Number of cattle slaughtered under bovine TB control measures 1998–20021
HumbersideEngland and Wales
199815,788
199916,708
200058,295
2001422,682
1TB reactors plus direct contacts.

Note:

In 2001, the TB testing and control programme was largely suspended due to the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak. Since testing resumed in 2002, resources have been concentrated on herds with overdue TB tests which would have had a longer period in which to contract the disease. Also the proportion of high risk herds being tested post-FMD is greater than that prior to the outbreak. As a result, the number of TB reactors identified and slaughtered in 2002 is not comparable to those identified and slaughtered in previous years.

Brazilian Beef

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many beef carcases from Brazil were tested for disease in each of the last 10 years, broker down by type of disease; and what proportion were found to pose a health risk. [116856]

There are no provisions for beef imported from Brazil or any other approved countries to be routinely tested for disease. Other controls are designed to prevent serious exotic diseases entering the country via imported meat.All meat imported from third countries must be accompanied by official veterinary certification. This must confirm that the meat is derived from animals which have been subjected to a veterinary inspection during the 24 hours prior to slaughter and showed no signs of diseases. Meat from Brazil must have been matured and tested to confirm that it has reached a sufficiently low pH (acidity) and then de-boned so as to remove any risk of the FMD virus being present. Whole carcase meat and bone-in cuts are not permitted.European Community law requires that all meat imported into the UK from third countries must enter at designated Border Inspection Posts (BIPs) where it is subject to veterinary inspections. All consignments are subject to documentary and identity checks and at least 20 per cent. of consignments undergo physical checks, which may include taking a sample for testing. It is the responsibility of the Official Veterinary Surgeon to decide what type of test might be carried out. These checks ensure import conditions are met and that the products remain in a satisfactory condition during transport.

Bse Status

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps have been taken to achieve moderate BSE status for the United Kingdom. [115268]

To achieve moderate risk status, the UK must provide evidence that it complies with World Animal Health Organisation (OEE) and EU rules. Essentially, there are three key areas where steps have been taken.First, the UK's normal veterinary surveillance and active monitoring programmes are in line with EU rules concerning effective surveillance systems for BSE.Secondly, the UK has implemented all EU legislation on TSEs in order to deal effectively with BSE risks.Thirdly, the UK's BSE incidence must be below the upper threshold for moderate status. This target was altered at the recent annual general meeting of the OIE for countries that have implemented active monitoring programmes, to 200 confirmed cases per million adult cattle. The consistent decline of the epidemic is steadily bringing the UK closer to this threshold.

Date-Based Export Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Date-based Export Scheme; and what plans she has to amend the scheme. [116584]

The Date-based Export Scheme has been effective in enabling the UK to resume exporting British beef albeit in small quantities.We are currently exploring with the commission a number of proposals to amend the scheme.

Deer

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether (a) the carcasses of all deer found and (b) deer culled on the Baronsdown Deer Sanctuary will have to be disposed of at an appropriate plant under the EU Animal By-Products Regulation. [115251]

The carcases, or parts of carcases, of wild animals, including wild deer, are exempt from the scope of the Regulation unless they are thought to be diseased or are used to produce game trophies. However, the carcases from other deer would have to be disposed of via a disposal route permitted under the Regulation e.g. by rendering or incineration.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether her Department is carrying out a welfare study of the deer at the Baronsdown Deer Sanctuary; [115254](2) whether the study carried out by the State Veterinary Service involved checking post mortem records of all deer carcasses found on the Baronsdown Deer Sanctuary; [115256](3) on what date she was given the State Veterinary Service Report on the Baronsdown Deer Sanctuary; who commissioned the Report; and what criteria of investigation were given to the State Veterinary Service to determine the health of the deer at the Baronsdown Deer Sanctuary; [115252](4) how long representatives of the State Veterinary Service spent at the Baronsdown Deer Sanctuary; and whether the State Veterinary Service carried out a detailed health assessment on the deer at the Baronsdown Deer Sanctuary; [115255](5) what samples were taken and whether post mortem examinations were carried out by the State Veterinary Service on the deer at the Baronsdown Deer Sanctuary. [115257],

The Baronsdown Deer Sanctuary was inspected by officials of the State Veterinary Service on 1 April 2003. The detailed findings of the inspection are confidential to the managers of the Sanctuary.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the State Veterinary Service has required that all deer carcases found or deer culled on the Baronsdown Deer Sanctuary be subject to post mortem examination by a qualified veterinary surgeon. [115258]

The State Veterinary Service has not required all deer carcases found at Baronsdown Deer Sanctuary to be subject to a post mortem. The deer at Baronsdown are wild animals and it would not be usual for the State Veterinary Service to arrange post mortems on wild deer (these would not normally be examined unless they were intended for sale for human consumption). A veterinary inquiry pursuant to the provisions of article 6 of the Tuberculosis (Deer) Order 1989 would be undertaken only if the information received indicated that this was appropriate.

Environmetal Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are in place to make large industrial companies responsible for their immediate environmental surroundings; and what plans she has to strengthen regulations. [115151]

Many industrial activities in Great Britain are currently regulated under Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This introduced the systems of Integrated Pollution Control, which controlled releases to all environmental media, and Local Air Pollution Control, which controlled releases to air only.The Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 were made under the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999 and will eventually replace Part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The Regulations implement the European Community (EC) Directive 96/61/EC on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) in so far as it relates to installations in England and Wales.The IPPC regime applies an integrated environmental approach to the regulation of certain industrial activities. This means that emissions to air, water (including discharges to sewer) and land, plus a range of other environmental effects, must be considered together. It also means that regulators must set permit conditions so as to achieve a high level of protection for the environment as a whole. These conditions are based on the use of the 'Best Available Techniques' (BAT), which balances the costs to the operator against the benefits to the environment. IPPC aims to prevent emissions and waste production and where that is not practicable, reduce them to acceptable levels. IPPC also takes the integrated approach beyond the initial task of permitting, through to the restoration of sites when industrial activities cease.Separate systems have been introduced to apply the IPPC Directive to Scotland, Northern Ireland and the offshore oil and gas industries. Regulation of industrial pollution in Scotland and Northern Ireland is a matter for the appropriate Ministers in these devolved administrations.

Fish Stocks

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment has been made of the (a) size and (b) future of fish stocks in UK waters; which European countries have permission to have fishing fleets in UK waters; and what recent discussions she has had with representatives from these countries regarding conserving fish supply. [115155]

The International Council for Exploration of the Sea's Advisory Committee on Fisheries Management produces advice every year on the state of a range of fish stocks in EU waters and the waters of third countries, as well as international waters. The most recent advice was produced last October.France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and Germany have limited access to fish in UK waters in the six to 12 mile zone, in line with their historic rights. The Faroe Islands and Norway also have access to certain UK waters under the terms of the bilateral fisheries agreements with the EU.I regularly speak to these and other EU member states, and last did so at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 26 May 2003.

Flood Defence

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) total remuneration and (b) benefits will be received by the Chairman of the Wessex Flood Control Committee. [115596]

The Chairman will receive £15,195 per annum based on a time input of five days per month. This payment is not pensionable.He may in addition claim travel and subsistence expenses incurred away from his normal place of work, and any other expenses necessarily incurred on business in line with the expenses guidance for Committee Chairmen issued by the Environment Agency.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the job description is of the chairman of the Wessex Flood Defence Committee; and how many hours per week he is contracted for. [115597]

The specification sent to applicants stated as follows:"Applicants will need to demonstrate an interest in and knowledge of flood and coastal defence matters; experience of chairing meetings at a senior level; excellent communication skills; good knowledge of their regions; a balanced and broad understanding of relevant environmental issues; and the ability to liaise with a wide range of interest groups. No specific academic or professional qualifications are required and there are no age limits for these appointments. Applicants must have sufficient energy and dynamism to cope with a demanding role.Applicants should have a background of successful achievement in the area covered by the Committee. They should have proven representational skills and the ability to deal with people at all levels. They also need good chairmanship skills to be able to bring together differing interests and opinions to ensure the Committee works efficiently and effectively. They need intellectual skills to be able to find solutions when faced with conflicting demands."The Chairman of he Wessex Regional Flood Defence Committee is appointed on the basis of five days input per month.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what safeguards there are to prevent conflicts of interest by Flood Defence Committee chairmen. [115598]

This is explored at interview with candidates, who are asked to make sure that there are no conflicts of interest.Chairmen are issued with various guidance documents along with their formal instrument of appointment, including: Cabinet Office Guidance on Codes of Practice for Members of Public Bodies; and guidance on political activities.Their letter of appointment specifically says that they "should avoid situations in which their official duties and private interests conflict or where there would be a suspicion of conflict. Relevant interests should be entered in the Register of Interests maintained by the Environment Agency and the entry kept up to date. Guidance on conflicts of interest wi11 be provided by the Environment Agency and should be adhered to". The letter also informs them of the provisions of the House of Commons Disqualification Act.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people applied for the post of Wessex Flood Defence Committee Chairman. [115600]

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) employment and (b) membership of political parties was declared by the new chairman of the Wessex Flood Defence Committee. [115601]

Humphrey Temperley declared that he is currently Executive Director of the European Nature Trust. He was at the time of application Chair of the Parrett Catchment Project Management Group. Since then he has informed us that he has resigned the position with a replacement chair taking over from 7 May 2003. He has also informed us that he will be terminating his consultancy contract with the Group from 30 June 2003. Other positions declared by Mr. Temperley were: Executive Chair of Somerset Flood Defence Committee since July 2000, following membership of the committee since 1985; Corporate Performance Assessor (Part-time) for the Audit Commission 2002–03; self employed consultant providing environmental policy advice; Chair of Exmoor National Park Authority 1993–2001; Chair of Somerset County Council 2000–01; CountyCouncillor 1985–2001; District Councillor 1983–1999. Current voluntary interests: Chair Corporate Forum for National Parks; Co-opted Council member, Council for National Parks; Trustee of two small charitable environmental trusts; Member, Exmoor Consultative Forum and the Exmoor Society; Member, England Forestry Forum; Member, SWRDA rural policy advisory group.In relation to political involvement, Mr Temperley stated that he was an elected County and District Councillor 1983–2001; Yeovil Constituency Chair for two years; Parliamentary candidate for Wells, 1992; and politically inactive since 2000. Mr. Temperley said that his activity was undertaken for the Liberal Democrats.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the Chairman of the Wessex Flood Defence Committee will take up his post. [115602]

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the need to in crease the Thames flood defence measures as part of the planning for the Thames Gateway project; and if she will make a statement. [115797]

The government recognises that flood risk management is crucial to the successful development of the Thames Gateway. In order to improve understanding of the likely effect of the Thames Gateway construction on existing and future flood management arrangements, my department has consulted with the Environment Agency. As a result, the Agency has accelerated plans for a strategic flood risk assessment of the Thames Gateway Zones of Change.This study is scheduled for completion at the end of May 2003, but early indications are that cost effective and sustainable flood risk management within the Thames Gateway, can be achieved by creative and intelligent planning and design. This will require close partnership working between the government and all agencies and developers involved. This strategic approach also opens up opportunities for significant enhancement of the environment that would not be possible if development is undertaken in an uncoordinated way. There are financial and environmental benefits to be gained from developing the Thames Gateway in a careful and sustainable way, including building flood defences at the time of development rather than later, or by allowing sufficient space for future defence construction in the development.

Food (Terrorism

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of protection against terrorist action in the (a) food production and (b) food distribution industries. [116276]

The terrorist threat to the UK, including the threat to the food production and food distribution industries, is monitored regularly by the Government and we and the industry remain vigilant. Advice on any terrorist threat to the UK is the responsibility of the Security Service. The Director General of the Security Service is responsible to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary for this advice, which is provided on a continual basis. Strategic assessments about terrorist threats to the UK are provided to the Government by the Joint Intelligence Committee.Defra is also heavily engaged in the central Government programme to improve civil contingency planning, especially in areas relating to our departmental responsibilities. Planning is developed and agreed with stakeholders, both in government and industry, including food and agriculture interests, to ensure that the UK's resilience to emergencies of all kinds, including possible terrorist action against the UK food chain, is improved.

Illegal Meat Imports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with HM Customs and Excise regarding intelligence on illegal meat imports. [116075]

Officials from Defra have regular meetings with colleagues in HM Customs and Excise to discuss intelligence matters with regard to illegal imports of animal and plant products.

We will be jointly analysing available data to look for trends and will be discussing ways in which we can disseminate the information.

Job Losses

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many jobs have been lost in UK agriculture in the last five years. [114885]

Figures from the Agricultural and Horticultural Census indicate the labour on agricultural holdings in June each year (including farmers and their spouses if working on holdings). These figures show the net change in the labour force.

Total UK Labour force (thousands)
1998608.2
1999586.0
2000556.9
2001(e)549.9
2001(f)568.4
2002550.5
Notes:Includes estimates for minor holdingsEstimates have been made for non-respondentsFigures exclude school children but include trainees employed under an official youth training scheme and paid at Agricultural Wages Board rates or above.From 1998, all farmers managing holdings for limited companies or other institutions in England and Wales were asked to classify themselves as salaried managers.(e) June 2001 results assuming England register improvements had not taken place (comparable with June 2000).(f) June 2001 results including England register improvement (not directly comparable with June 2000).

Livestock Movements

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the progress of the European Commission's proposals for the transportation of horses and donkeys to slaughter. [115248]

The European Commission proposals for changes to the welfare of animals during transport Directive (91/628/EEC), which includes rules on the transport of horses for slaughter, are still awaited.David Byrne, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, indicated on 4 April that proposals would be announced in the "not too distant future" during a speech to the Veterinary Officers Association of Ireland.We hope proposals will be released soon and look forward to a major role in negotiations. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has already called for a reduction in the maximum journey times permitted for slaughter animals.

Livestock Traceability

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research her Department has commissioned on the effectiveness of the regulations on livestock traceability; and what plans she has to amend them. [116583]

Defra propose to run a pilot trial to fully test Electronic Identification (EID) and Electronic Data Transfer (EOT) systems within the English sheep industry. The aim is to test the effectiveness of EID/EDT in a live working environment, analysing take up issues on the use of electronic tracing and identifying the benefits. We plan to run the pilot trial from December 2003 to December 2004, with a full report available in February 2005. This trial will help to inform future policies in this area.

Pesticides

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what controls are in place to govern the use of pesticides on crops; who is responsible for allowing the use of new pesticides; what checks are in place; and if she will make a statement on her most recent assessment of the effectiveness of pesticides. [115134]

The use of pesticides on crops is governed by two legislative systems running in parallel. Established agricultural pesticides are regulated by the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 (as amended), made under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985. New pesticides for use on crops are regulated by the Plant Protection Product Regulations 1995 (as amended), which implement EC Directive 91/414/EEC.All established agricultural pesticides are subject to an on-going EU review programme to ensure that the data supporting their approvals meet modern safety standards. Subject to a satisfactory outcome, they are then regulated, with new pesticides, under the Plant Protection Product Regulations 1995.The following Government Departments have joint responsibility for allowing the use of new pesticides: the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, the Department of Health, the Health and Safety Executive (for the Department for Work and Pensions), the Food Standards Agency, the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Executive.The Health and Safety Executive carries out checks on the safe use and storage of agricultural pesticides during inspections of farms and other holdings, as part of their work in assessing compliance in general with health and safety legislation.The effectiveness of pesticides is considered as an integral part of the approval process and is assessed when an application is made for the marketing and use of a pesticide product.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assistance is available to farmers who do not use pesticides on their crops; and what proposals she has to encourage non-use of (a) pesticides and (b) other chemicals on crops. [115135]

The Government's Organic Farming Scheme encourages the expansion of organic production which uses only a limited range of pesticides. Under the Scheme, farmers moving from conventional to organic farming methods receive financial help during the conversion process. From 30 May 2003, assistance will also be available under the Scheme for existing organic farmers who comply with certain environmental measures.It is established Government policy to encourage farmers and growers to reduce the use of conventional pesticides. This policy is supported in a number of ways including the work of the Pesticides Forum, which promotes responsible pesticide use. The Government also support the industry-led Voluntary Initiative, which aims to encourage farmers to adopt practices that reduce impacts on the environment.It is also Government policy to encourage farmers to minimise their use of other chemical inputs. One of the most important measures we have taken in England is the introduction of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, in which the use of nitrogen fertiliser is limited and controlled.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what European Union funding is available to support farmers to encourage non-use of pesticides on crops; and what recent discussions have taken place with EU representatives regarding organic foods. [115136]

The EU co-funds the Countryside Stewardship, Environmentally Sensitive Area and Organic Farming Schemes under the England Rural Development Programme (ER DP). These agri-environment schemes offer a range of management options primarily designed to achieve a range of objectives including protecting and enhancing biodiversity, wildlife, landscape, historic environment and access. Some of these Schemes do place restrictions on the use of pesticides where it is necessary to achieve these objectives. Agreements are however, not offered solely for the non-use of pesticides.It is our intention to integrate continuing support for Organic Farmers into the new Entry Level Agri-environment Scheme, due to be launched in 2005. This is currently under development and being discussed with stakeholders now. The proposals will be discussed with the European Commission later this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the operating cost was of the Pesticides Safety Directorate, in each of the last five years. [115802]

The operating costs for PSD for the past five years are as follows:

£ millions
Operating costs
2001–0211,9181
2001–0111,263
1999–200011,185
1998–9911,070
1997–9811,305
1Additional costs of £898,000 in 2001–02 associated with the foot and mouth disease are not included in the above figure.

Seaforth Docks Bird Reserve

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what types of birds and what size of population are supported in the bird reserve in Seaforth Docks; and if she will make a statement. [116610]

Seaforth Nature Reserve, owned by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, and managed by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, is of national, European and international importance for the numbers of redshank (1,590 individuals) and turnstone (760 individuals) it supports in winter, and of national and European importance for its population of breeding common tern (124 pairs), a species listed in Annex Ito the EC Birds Directive (79/409/EEC). The aforementioned population numbers are average counts from the period 1994–95 1998–99 for the two wintering species, and the period 1996 –2000 for breeding common terns. These were the most recently available data used to justify the inclusion of part of Seaforth Docks within the Mersey Narrows and North Wirral Foreshore potential Special Protection Area (in accordance with the EC Birds Directive 79/409/EEC) and Ramsar site (in accordance with the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat 1971).

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the condition of the flood defence measures on the Sefton coastline from Formby pinewoods to Seaforth Docks. 1116608]

Defra provides grant aid on capital flood and coastal defence projects that meet specified criteria and an appropriate priority score. Operational responsibility for planning, design, construction, maintenance and operation of defence measures rests with the operating authorities—normally the Environment Agency (EA), local councils and internal drainage boards—which have the relevant local knowledge. They also identify the need for defence measures and decide which projects to promote and their timing.Defra also encourages operating authorities to take a strategic approach to coastal defence measures. I understand that both Sefton Council and the EA, who are responsible for lengths of this coastline, are preparing coastal defence strategies which will, inter alia, take into account the condition of defences and seek to identify sustainable measures. Defra is providing grant to the Council towards the cost of related studies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the condition and management of the SSSI sites between Formby pinewoods and Seaforth Docks. [116609]

Formby Pinewoods to Seaforth Docks is part of the Sefton Coast SSSI, which extends for over 20 km between Southport and Crosby covering a total area of 4605.32 ha. 3834.81 ha of the SSSI is recorded as being in favourable or recovering condition and 770.51 ha is recorded as being in unfavourable condition.Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council is the largest single owner/manager with English Nature, The National Trust, MoD and five golf courses are responsible for other substantial areas. These partners are guided by "The Sefton Coast Management Strategy 1999" and "The Sefton Coast Management Plan 1997–2006",which have been agreed in consultation with English Nature.Seaforth Docks is located within the 117.84 ha of Mersey Narrows SSSI which covers both sides of the mouth of the Mersey Estuary. Seaforth Docks is recorded as being in favourable condition with the last condition assessment completed in May 2000, prior to notification.The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company is the owner of the SSSI area within the Seaforth Docks. This site is currently under positive management for nature conservation by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust as agreed and consented by English Nature.

Sewage Treatment

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to discuss (a) reed bed and (b) other soft technology approaches with representatives of (i) Ofwat, (ii) the Environment Agency and (iii) waste companies, with specific reference to sewage alleviation. [115137]

Reed beds and other sustainable drainage systems can, in the right conditions, help to alleviate sewer flooding. My Department has already been in discussions with the Environment Agency, Ofwat and the water industry on this subject and the Environment Agency published the Framework for Sustainable Drainage Systems consultation paper on 19 May.

Sickness Absence

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff in the Department have been on long-term sick leave in each of the last two years. [115851]

I would refer the hon. Member to my earlier reply of 30 April 2003, Official Report, column 383W.Responsibility for attendance matters within the Central Science Laboratory Agency, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, the Rural Payments Agency and the Centre for the Environmental Fisheries and Aquaculture Science Agency has been delegated to the Agency Chief Executives and I have asked them to reply direct. The Pesticides Safety Directorate and Veterinary Medicines Directorate Agency are covered by the Departmental response.

Letter from Peter Greig-Smith to Mr. Bercow, dated May 2003:

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has asked me to reply to your question regarding how many staff were on long term sick leave in each of the last two years. I am replying on behalf of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS).
For CEFAS staff, a review of point of 60 days (ie 2 months or more) is used to define long term absence. During the past 2 years, the numbers of staff on long term absence were as follows:
  • 2001–9
  • 2002–7
CEFAS has successfully introduced a scheme for 'Return to Workplace' interviews and is fully committed to managing attendance effectively. We are on target for achieving the reduced levels of sickness absence we have set out for the Agency.

Letter from Steven Edwards to Mr. Bercow dated May 2003:

The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question regarding how many staff in her Department have been on longterm sick leave in each of the last two years.
There is no central definition of what constitutes long-term sick absence. VLA has adopted a pro-active stance to monitoring attendance with earlier and speedier referrals to the Occupational Physician.
The following figures cover staff within VLA for absences beginning in the years listed:
  • 2001–15
  • 2002–20
VLA is committed 10 the effective management of sickness absence and to meeting sickness absence reduction targets.

Letter from Professor Mike Roberts to Mr. Bercow dated May 2003:

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has asked me to reply, with respect to the Central Science Laboratory, to your question concerning how many staff were on long-term sick leave in each of the last two years.
I would refer the Honourable Member to my letter of 15 April 2003 in response to parliamentary Question No. 2668 which contained details of CSL's long-term sick absence for each of the last five years.

Letter from Johnston McNeill to Mr. Bercow dated 23 May 2003:

I have been asked to respond directly to your recent Parliamentary Question concerning long term sick leave.
Question: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many staff in her Department have been on long term sick leave in each of the last two years.
Information on the number of staff who have been on long term sick leave in each of the last two years is not available for the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).
RPA is a relatively new organisation formed in October 2001. RPA is still developing a computerised Personnel System to provide sickness absence data of the kind requested. Specific information on numbers of staff on long term sick leave could only be obtained at disproportionate administrative cost and time.
RPA is committed to managing sickness absence effectively and to meeting internal performance targets for reducing sickness absence for 2003–04.
RPA has developed n sickness absence management policy and procedures, that includes a revised strategy for managing long term sickness absence, 'or implementation from June 2003.
RPA also acts responsibly to the legal obligation to provide a safe working environment for employees and is committed to meeting targets for reducing the number of working days lost generally due to work related injuries and illness, arising from the government's Revitalising Health and Safety initiative.

Strychnine Hydrochloride

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, food and rural Affairs at assessment she has made of the cost to farmers of non-availability of strychnine hydrochloride; what representations she has received from the farming industry on its availability; what research she has commissioned on alternative poisons for farming pest control; and if she will make a statement on future supplies of strychnine hydrochloride. [115801]

Defra first became aware of difficulties obtaining strychnine hydrochloride in early February when a number of regular users contacted Defra's Rural Development Service who are responsible for authorising use of this compound to control mole infestations. Enquiries by my officials revealed that the difficulties had arisen due to a shortage of raw material experienced by the supplier used by many pharmacies. An alternative supplier, who gave assurances that they were able to meet demands, was identified and contact details were posted on the Defra website in early March (www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/vertebrates/strychnine-shortage.htm).Furthermore, to ease difficulties obtaining strychnine, Defra temporarily suspended the practice of specifying a named pharmacist on the permit to purchase strychnine (Form LP10). This change, which remains in force, enables authorised permit holders to purchase strychnine from any pharmacist with stocks of the compound.In view of the temporary nature of the shortages, an assessment of the cost to farmers was considered unnecessary.Representations were received from regular users, including pest controllers and farmers.Aluminium phosphide is also approved for use as an alternative for mole control. In the past the Department has commissioned work on a further alternative preparation, micro-encapsulated bromoform. This preparation has not been through the approvals process and it is not considered appropriate for the Department to pay for such registration costs.Defra has recently asked the Central Science Laboratory to undertake a review of the range of mole control methods which exist across the EU. The aim of this review is to produce guidance to UK interests on the most humane and effective methods of mole control which are currently available.As far as I am aware, strychnine hydrochloride is currently available from pharmacies, and there have been no recent enquiries reporting shortages. I am unable to comment on the long-term availability of this compound, as this is a matter for the importers.

Tb (Somerset)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on TB control in Somerset. [115414]

TB control in Somerset is carried out in accordance with national policy.The latest available data show there are 3,459 cattle herds registered in the county. Of these, 182 herds (5.3 per cent.) have been under TB restrictions at some point in the period 1 January to 31 March 2003. Up to the end of March there had been 63 new TB incidents (22 confirmed, 26 unconfirmed and 15 with laboratory results outstanding).The State Veterinary Service has worked very hard over the last 18 months to reduce the number of overdue TB herd tests. By the end of March the number of herd tests overdue in Somerset had been reduced to 222.

Water Extraction

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps can be taken by the Environment Agency in an emergency situation to speed up the process of granting a licence to extract water from a river. [115678]

The Water Resources Act 1991 provides that the requirements for abstraction licensing do not apply under certain emergency situations, including the abstraction of water for fire-fighting, and for the purpose of preventing the flooding of land and property.All other qualifying abstractions are required to follow the normal process. The speed at which the application will be dealt will depend upon a variety of circumstances, such as the complexity of the case and the need to investigate.

Trade And Industry

Alstom

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the imminent closure of Alstom's traction production; and what discussions she (a) has had and (b) will have with officials from Alstom regarding the closure of the new build train production. [116275]

It is disappointing that Alstom has chosen to end traction production in Preston. This is a commercial matter for the company but it will have come as a bitter blow to the workforce. We will liaise with regional partners and Job Centre Plus to ensure that individuals are given help to find new jobs or help with new training.My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has held discussions with the company about its general restructuring strategy, announced on 12 March. Ministers and officials will remain in close contact with the company.

Broadband

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the level of competition in the broadband market. [116514]

The Government target is for the UK to have the most extensive and competitive broadband market in the G7 by 2005. Latest statistics indicate that at the end of March 2003, we had the third most competitive market based on measures of choice, price and regulatory framework. This is up from fourth in the G7 a year before.

Consumer Credit Act

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will ensure that consultations are held with bodies representing (a) small business and (b) finance providers on whether to amend provisions of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 concerning the provision of business finance before decisions on the issue are taken. [116263]

Bodies representing small businesses and finance providers have been closely involved in the review of the Consumer Credit Act since July 2001. These groups continue to play a key role in the review process. They are involved in on-going discussions with officials, and receive and comment on consultation papers when they are published.One key aspect of the review, is to ensure that changes to the legislation will not diminish the access to business finance currently available to small and medium-sized businesses.

Veterinary Medicines

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the proposals not to allow veterinary surgeons to charge for prescriptions over the next three years, within the OFT proposals based on the Competition Commissions inquiry into the supply of prescription only veterinary medicines. [115080]

[holding answer 3 June 2003]: The Competition Commission's reasoning for not allowing veterinary surgeons to charge for prescriptions over the next three years is set out in paragraphs 2.169 to 2.173 of volume I of the report. The Commission stated in the report that if it was concerned simply to establish the correct market price for prescriptions then it might be reasonable to leave vets to set their own prices and then rely on the market. The Commission reasoned that prescription charges have a major impact on competition with pharmacies, as vets are able to set the charges so as to deter clients from asking for prescriptions. In that way, they can influence the terms of competition with pharmacies to their own advantage. The Commission's view is that the three-year period of writing prescriptions at no additional charge is necessary in order to ensure that charges will not deter animal owners from obtaining written prescriptions and making use of pharmacies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what organisations were consulted in the Competition Commission's inquiry into the supply of prescription only veterinary medicines. [115081]

Parties who gave evidence during the course of the Competition Commission's inquiry included: manufacturers of veterinary medicines, veterinary wholesalers, veterinary surgeons, pharmacists, veterinary organisations, Government bodies and other interested parties. A full list of those who gave evidence, and details of their evidence can be found in pages 273 to 537 of volume I of the report.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what discussions she has had with representatives of veterinary practices in Scotland on the impact of the recommendations contained in the Competition Commission's report Veterinary Medicines: a Report on the Supply within the United Kingdom of Prescription-only Veterinary Medicines on rural veterinary practices; [116103]

(2) what discussions she plans to have with the Scottish Executive on the impact of the Competition Commission Report, Veterinary Medicines: a Report on the Supply Within the United Kingdom of Prescription-only Veterinary Medicines in Scotland. [116104]

[holding answer 3 June 2003]: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Trade & Industry has asked the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to discuss with interested parties the terms of orders that could be made under the Fair Trading Act 1973 (FTA) to implement the Competition Commission's proposed remedies. The OFT has written out to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the British Veterinary Association and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, among others. Each of these bodies have members who practice in Scotland. Many vets based in Scotland have also written individually to the OFT.The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is currently preparing a response to the Competition Commission's regulatory recommendations. The Scottish Executive has been asked to contribute to this.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what guidance she gave to the Competition Commission regarding the consideration of animal welfare in its recent inquiry into the supply of prescription only veterinary medicines; and whether animal welfare fell within the remit of the Competition Commission's inquiry. [115079]

The Competition Commission was asked to assess whether there was a monopoly situation in the supply of prescription-only veterinary medicines, and whether such a monopoly acted against the public interest.The Commission, in its report, fully accepted that the supply of prescription-only veterinary medicines raises issues that go wider than competition and that the public interest includes protection of public safety and animal welfare. The Commission received submissions from interested parties including vets, members of the public, animal charities and the Government's Chief Veterinary Officer, which touched on animal welfare issues. The Commission took account of these submissions in reaching its conclusions.

Wales

Antisocial Behaviour

11.

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what initatives the Government is taking to combat anti-social behaviour in Wales. [116432]

The Government remains committed to tackling anti-social behaviour. The Anti-Social Behaviour Bill currently before this House provides many new tools for practitioners in dealing with the causes and effects of anti-social behaviour.

Manufacturing

12.

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the First Secretary about manufacturing industry in North Wales. [116433]

We have discussed how the down turn in the global economy has effected some sectors in North Wales and how the long-term future of other sectors is good particularly with the growing trend towards high-tech high-skilled industries and centres of excellence such as Airbus, Broughton.

Bovine Tb

13.

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what meetings he has held with secretaries in the National Assembly for Wales about the Government's efforts to prevent the spread of bovine TB. [116434]

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has regular meetings with the First Secretary, whilst I meet the Assembly Agriculture Secretary and DEFRA Ministers to discuss a variety of issues, including the issue of bovine TB.

Agriculture Department

14.

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary about the work of the National Assembly for Wales' Agriculture Department. [116435]

My right hon. Friend and I have regular meetings with the First Secretary to discuss a variety of issues in relation to agriculture.

Advertising

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the total expenditure on advertising by the Department was in (a) 2001–02 arid (b) 2002–03; and what the level of planned expenditure is for (i) 2003–04 and (ii) 2004–05. [114429]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer which my predecessor gave him on 15 April 2002, Official Report, column 750W.

Civil Service (People With Disabilities)

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what progress has been made in meeting targets for the proportion of people with disabilities in senior posts in the Department. [110523]

My Department has only one Senior Civil Service post and so a target cannot be meaningfully applied.In total, my Department has two people (equivalent to about 4 per cent. of its staff) with a disability.

Efficiency Savings

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the target is for efficiency savings in 2003–04 expressed (a) in money terms and (b) as a percentage of the Department's expenditure limit. [114113]

My Department seeks maximum efficiency in every spending decision it takes; it does not have a fixed annual target.

Legal Deposit Libraries Bill

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has held with (a) Secretaries in the National Assembly for Wales and (b) ministerial colleagues regarding the Legal Deposit Libraries Bill. [115059]

I have regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues and with Ministers in the Welsh Assembly Government on matters affecting Wales. Officials in the National Assembly have been involved in detailed discussions with those in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Mental Health

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many of his staff retired on medical grounds due to mental health problems in the last year.[111944]

Staff of my Department are all on secondment or loan from other Departments. Any retirement would therefore be taken from the Home Department rather than from the Wales Office.

Sickness Absence

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many staff in the Department have been on long-term sick leave in each of the last two years. [115858]

In my Department there has been only one staff on long-term sick leave in each of the last two years.Long-term sick leave is defined as continuous sickness absence of 30 days or more.

Sponsorship

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales which of his Department's projects have received sponsorship in the last financial year; who the sponsor was in each case; what the nature of each project was; what time period was covered by each project; what the total cost of each project was; how much money was involved in each sponsorship deal; and if he will make a statement. [112392]

Education And Skills

Literacy

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many adults are illiterate; and what percentage of adults this represents. [116011]

The Moser Report (1999) indicated that around 7 million adults in England have poor literacy skills (equivalent to 21 per cent. of the population aged 16–65), and that even more have a problem with numbers. The Department has commissioned a new representative sample survey of working age adults in England to provide an up-to-date assessment of the scale of literacy and numeracy need. These estimates will be mapped to the new national basic skills standards and will be published in September 2003.

Playing Field Sales

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps he is taking to reduce the number of school playing field sales. [114690]

Prior to October 1998, there was no regulation of the sale of playing fields at local authority controlled schools. If a local authority wanted to sell a school playing field there was nothing to stop it. No central records were kept of how many school playing fields were sold before October 1998.Section 77 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 was introduced on 1 October 1998 to stop the indiscriminate sale of school playing fields that occurred in the 1980s and early to mid 1990s. Local authorities and governing bodies of all maintained schools now need the Secretary of State's consent before they can dispose of a playing field or any part of a playing field.Applications to dispose of school playing fields are assessed against three main criteria. These are:

  • (i)schools' needs: that playing field provision and curriculum requirements at the school making the disposal, and at other schools in the local area, will be met;
  • (ii)community needs: that community use of school playing fields is taken into account, with alternative facilities made available if necessary, and
  • (iii)finance: that any sale proceeds are reinvested to provide new or improved sports facilities, or are used otherwise to help raise standards by providing better educational facilities.
  • All applications made since 16 July 2001 have been scrutinised by the School Playing Fields Advisory Panel. The Panel comprises representatives from the National Playing Fields Association, the Central Council of Physical Recreation, Learning through Landscapes, the National Association of Head Teachers and the Local Government Association. The Panel provides advice on the extent to which applications meet the published criteria. In 1999 the Government approved 42 applications to sell school playing fields larger than a sports pitch; 32 applications were approved in 2000, 22 in 2001 and 23 in 2002.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many school playing fields have been sold in the last 10 years. [115777]

    Section 77 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 was introduced on 1 October 1998 to stop the indiscriminate sale of school playing fields that occurred in the 1980s and early to mid 1990s. Local authorities and governing bodies of all maintained schools now need the Secretary of State's consent before they can dispose of a playing field or any part of a playing field. Applications to sell school playing fields are only approved where it is clear that they meet the published criteria and, in particular, that any proceeds will be used to improve school sports provision or education facilities.There are no central records of how many school playing fields were sold before October 1998. Between October 1998 and December 1998, the Government approved 7 applications to sell school playing fields larger than a sports pitch; 42 applications were approved in 1999, 32 in 200, 22 in 2001 and 23 in 2002.

    Publicity Photographs

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether he (a) sought and (b) obtained agreement to pupils being photographed for publicity purposes on the occasion of his announcement on pupil testing on 20 May from (i) their parents, (ii) the school governors, (iii) the head teacher and (iv) the local education authority. [116234]

    I can confirm that permissions were sought. The Department has clear guidelines setting out when permission needs to be sought and how it is to be sought.

    Tewkesbury After-Hours Club

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement about the OFSTED report into the Tewkesbury After-Hours Club. [116134]

    This is a matter for Ofsted and their HM Chief Inspector, David Bell, will write to the hon. Member and a copy of his letter will be placed in the Library.

    Young Carers

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what measures have been instituted in schools in recognition of extra demands put on carers under the age of 16. [114743]

    We have made a Vulnerable Children's Grant (worth £84 million this year) available to all local education authorities. This will help them secure access to education for all vulnerable children, including young carers. Sixty-one LEAs are also receiving additional funding for Behaviour Improvement Programme projects. These typically include multi-agency Behaviour and Education Support Teams who provide additional support for pupils who are at risk of becoming disengaged from their education.

    Treasury

    Benefit Claims

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many claims were made to the Inland Revenue on forms (a) P161; (b) R27 and (c) R40 in the last year for which figures are available; how many of these claims were successful; and what estimates he has made of the numbers who were entitled to the benefit concerned. [114599]

    522,371 R40 forms were received during the year ended 31 March 2003, of which 521,533 were successfully processed by 31 March. In addition, some forms were issued and processed by local offices. No estimate is available of the number of individuals who received repayments of tax.

    Information relating to forms P161 and R27 is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

    Construction (Public-Private Partnership)

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the capacity of the construction industry to meet the Government's PPP requirements in the current financial year; and if he will make a statement. [115951]

    The Government keep all aspects of market capacity under review in order to safeguard high quality competition and value for money. In addition, officials maintain an on-going dialogue with the key representative bodies in the construction sector, including the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), Confederation for British Industry (CBI), and the Major Contractors Group (MCG).

    Heavily Indebted Poor Countries

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) pursuant to his Answer of 15 May 2003, Official Report, column 377W, on heavily indebted poor countries, whether he will make a detailed proposal for a donor-funded technical assistance facility to provide advice to HIPC countries facing litigation at the forthcoming G8 summit in Evian; [116111](2) if he will introduce tax incentives for creditors taking part in the HIPC initiative; [116005](3) pursuant to his Answer of 15 May 2003,

    Official Report, column 377W, on heavily indebted poor countries, what steps have been taken by (a) the IMF and (b) the World Bank since the G7 Kananaskis summit to encourage creditors to take part in the HIPC Initiative; [116109]

    (4) pursuant to his answer of 15 May 2003, Official Report, column 377W, what plans he has to amend legislation governing litigation against heavily indebted poor countries; [116112]

    (5) pursuant to his answer of 15 May 2003, Official Report, column 377W, on heavily indebted poor countries, what plans he has to convene a conference to discuss with creditors the value of participating in debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries; [116059]

    (6) pursuant to his answer of 15 May 2003, Official Report, column 377W, on heavily indebted poor countries, what the implementation status is of each of the commitments from the G7 Kananaskis summit;[116108]

    (7) pursuant to his answer of 15 May 2003, Official Report, column 377W, on heavily indebted poor countries, whether the World Bank has drawn up a timetable to investigate options for assisting with HIPC-to-HIPC debt. [116110]

    The UK government has been at the forefront of the international debate on debt relief issues, and continues to press for the rapid and full implementation of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. In particular, the UK is seeking agreement that additional bilateral voluntary debt relief should be excluded from the calculation of topping-up at Completion Point in the HIPC initiative, and this rule change could provide a further US $1 billion in debt relief to HIPCs. The UK is also seeking to explore further options to address the issues of creditor litigation within the enhanced HIPC initiative. While the initiative does not alter the legal rights and obligations between HIPCs and their external creditors the UK believes that an adequate HIPC legal defence is still essential in reaching fair and equitable settlements with some creditors. More detail on the steps taken by the IMF and World Bank to encourage creditor participation and the status of commitments on HIPC from the G7 Kananaskis Summit, can be found in the September 2002 HIPC Status of Implementation Report and the March 2003 HIPC Initiative—Statistical Update. Both are available from the World Bank Website www.worldbank.orq/hipc.On March 12, 2003, the Executive Board of the IMF paper discussed creditor participation issues in the HIPC initiative. The Public Information Notice issued by the IMF on April 3, 2003, for this meeting reported the discussion between Directors on the issue of HIPC-to-HIPC debt:

    "On HIPC-to-HIPC debt relief, Directors took note of the fact that these claims are concentrated in a few HIPC creditors, and that some creditors have already made commitments to deliver their share of debt relief under the Initiative. Directors agreed that, where resolution of such outstanding claims is hindered by technical issues, the staff should be ready to provide technical assistance when requested by both parties, to help HIPC creditors and debtors themselves resolve these outstanding technical disputes.
    Many Directors welcomed the proposal of the World Bank staff to establish and administer a trust fund to channel donor assistance to finance HIPC-to-HIPC debt relief. They agreed that such a trust fund should be used in cases where HIPC creditors are unable to deliver their share of HIPC relief owing to financial constraints, in accordance with the principles and conditions set out by individual donors. Others, however, questioned the need for such a fund given the small size of HIPC-to-HIPC debt and the existence of moral hazard issues."

    The full text of this Public Information Notice is available from the IMF website www. imf.org/external/news.htm. With respect to tax incentives for creditors taking part in the HIPC initiative, corporate loan creditors can already claim relief under the loan relationships regime for losses on the release of debt owed by HIPC countries. The Inland Revenue is not aware of any non-corporate loan creditors.

    While the UK continues to work hard to promote the HIPC initiative the Government acknowledges that debt relief is not a panacea for broader economic development problems; even the provision of 100 per cent. debt relief to all low-income countries would still fall short of the resources needed to meet the Millennium Development Goals. That is why the Chancellor has proposed an International Finance Facility (IFF) that would seek to double the amount of development aid from just over US$50 billion a year today to $100 billion per year in the years to 2015.

    Market Testing

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the estimated level of saving to the Department is from the use of market testing in 2002–03. [107769]

    Past use of market testing has led to the contracting-out of a variety of Treasury services. During 2002–03 the Treasury re-tendered a number of services, but did not conduct any new market testing.

    Postal Services

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what representations the Government has made to the European Commission regarding the impact of the imposition of value added tax on postal services; [113931](2) what assessment the Government has made of the impact of the imposition of value added tax on postal services; [113937](3) what steps the Government are taking regarding the imposition of value added tax on commercial postal service providers. [113936]

    The European Commission has recently published proposals to amend the provisions of the Sixth VAT Directive concerning the VAT arrangements applicable to postal services. The proposals have yet to be tabled for discussion at Council, and the Government has therefore not formally responded to the Commission on them. However, the Government is opposed to VAT on stamps, and will make this clear in negotiations on the proposals. Amendments to the Sixth VAT Directive must be agreed unanimously by Member States.

    Tax Credits (Solihull)

    To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will investigate the causes of the difficulties encountered by some Solihull constituents in (a) seeking working tax credit and child tax credit and (b) making telephone contact with the Inland Revenue; and if he will make a statement on the compatibility and mutual recognition of relevant departmental computer systems. [114792]

    I refer the hon. Member to the statement I made in the House on 28 April 2003, Official Report, column 53.

    International Development

    Capita

    To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development how many employees have been seconded from Capita to her Department since 1997; for how long they worked in the Department; and what positions they held. [115628]

    There have been no secondments from Capita to the Department since 1997.

    Malawi

    To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what discussions he has had with the government of Malawi regarding the treatment of AIDS patients in the Queen Elizabeth Teaching Hospital in Blantyre. [116407]

    DFID's development programme in Malawi has a substantial focus on HIV/AIDS but Queen Elizabeth Hospital is not targeted specifically. £10 million is provided to support the provision of sexual and reproductive health services through a local non-governmental organisation (Banja la Mtsogolo) in which HIV/AIDS counselling for young people and other vulnerable groups is a key component. A further £3.5 million is planned to help improve effectiveness of the National AIDS Commission. £1.9 million has been allocated to improve DFID's response to HIV/AIDS in sectors other than health, and to strengthen the capacity of other donors to implement AIDS programmes.

    Millennium Development Goals

    To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what arrangements have been made to ensure delivery of the Millennium Development Goals on water and sanitation in terms of (a) ministerial responsibility, (b) departmental structure and (c) budget allocation. [116841]

    The Secretary of State is the Minister responsible for the delivery of all MDGs. I hold responsibility within the Department for the specific goals on water and sanitation.DFID supports an integrated approach to sanitation, water supply, and hygiene to improve health and combat poverty. Expenditure on specific water sector or related projects and programmes has remained roughly constant over the past three years; estimated at £82 million in 1999–2000, £91 million in 2000–01 and £87 million in 2001–02. However, DFID's budget allocation is managed on a country rather than sector basis; our recent departmental report 2003 provides this information.The work DFID does has regard to what other donors are doing, and to our comparative advantage. In the water sector we have developed a role focused on improving policy. The provision of direct budget support (£296 million in 2001–02) rather than funding projects has given us this leverage, particularly in Africa. A small proportion of the budget allocated through direct budget support may go directly to the water sector, but the main contribution of budget support to meeting the water/sanitation MDGs is through improvements in public sector capacity and governance. We continue to push for the inclusion of sanitation, water supply and hygiene in individual country Poverty Reduction Strategies Papers (PRSPs).DFID also provides funds, which may include spending on water, through a number of multilateral channels. DFID continues to work to ensure aid efficiency and for example, is currently engaged in the EU Water Initiative, which aims to improve the efficiency of existing financing mechanisms for water infrastructure through better donor co-ordination between member states.

    Rwanda

    To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what representations the Department has made to the government of Rwanda regarding the ban on the Mouvement Democratique Republicain. [116703]

    We are continuing to encourage the government of Rwanda to set out publicly how they plan to open up political space and ensure inclusive elections this year, and how they can reassure the international community of their commitment to due process and transparency in dealing with the dissolution of the MDR and actions against individuals.

    Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

    Entry Clearance

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when his Department intends to send the appeal papers to the Independent Appellate Authority in the case of Mr. N.A., ref KA417109, who has been refused entry clearance from HM High Commission in Islamabad. [116489]

    I am withholding the information requested under exemption 5 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.It is not our practice to disclose details of individual entry clearance cases in a public forum. However, I will write to the hon. Member with regard to this matter.

    Peacekeeping

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what funds have been paid from the United Nations to (a) his Department and (b) the Government in respect of peacekeeping duties carried out by UK armed forces operating under the auspices of that organisation in each of the past 10 years. [115330]

    Her Majesty's Government is reimbursed at a set rate in respect of peacekeeping duties carried out by UK armed forces. These reimbursements are made to Her Majesty's Treasury.For 2002–03, we have, so far, received £2,674,367.30; the final quarter remains to be paid. We estimate this will be around £900,000.HMG received d£3,594,654.20 from the UN for financial year 2001–02.Figures for the eight-year period prior to 2001–02 are not held centrally. This could only be provided by the UK Mission to the UN, at disproportionate cost.

    Convention On The Future Of Europe

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on surrendering vetos over policy areas in the proposed European constitution. [116159]

    More Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) is essential to push through our solutions to Europe-wide problems in key areas, such as immigration and asylum and to promote the completion of the single market.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the main unresolved issues are in the Convention on the Future of Europe. [116162]

    The Convention on the Future of Europe is due to present its conclusions to the European Council on 20 June. The Government will continue to work within the Convention to achieve the best deal for the UK. Final decisions will be taken only by Heads of State and Government by unanimity at the Inter-Governmental Conference.All aspects of the draft constitutional treaty continue to be debated in the Convention.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who would settle a dispute over powers between the EU and the United Kingdom under the proposed draft constitution. [116164]

    Article 230 of the Treaty establishing the European Community provides that the European Court of Justice shall review the legality of acts of the institutions. For this purpose, it has jurisdiction, inter alia, in actions brought by the member states on grounds of lack of competence. The draft constitutional treaty maintains a similar provision.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the current draft of the EU constitution will require amendment to the European Communities Act 1972 if it is accepted by member states. [116169]

    As has been the case with previous treaties amending the original treaty structure, any amending treaty or new constitutional treaty agreed upon by the member states in the next Intergovernmental Conference would have to be laid before Parliament, and any necessary amendments to the European Communities Act 1972 passed by Parliament, before it could be ratified.

    Democratic Republic Of The Congo

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people have died in the Congo in each of the last 10 years, broken down by gender; what percentage of the population this represented in each year; and what recent discussions he has had with the UN about the conflict. [116743]

    Reliable information on the number of deaths in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over the last 10 years is unavailable. But media reports have suggested that more than four million people may have died as a result of the current war. Most were civilians. The DRC's population is estimated at 52 million.We are in regular discussion with the UN about the conflict in the DRC. The UN Secretary General has asked the UK and others to contribute to an international rapid deployment force for Ituri (North East DRC). We think it is important to contribute to this force, to support the UN and the DRC peace process. The UK will, therefore, participate in the Interim Emergency Multinational Force (IEMF). We are in consultation with those involved about the most appropriate and effective contribution the UK can make.

    Diplomatic Missions

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 16 May 2003, Official Report, column 497W, what information he has on the facilities provided by other diplomatic missions for people to get a message about their health and safety to relatives in the UK. [116139]

    When a British national gets into difficulties overseas, the nearest British Consulate or embassy will make every effort to inform the next of kin in the UK. In cases of serious accidents or deaths, we ask the police in the UK to deliver the news personally.We expect foreign nationals with relatives or friends in the UK to contact their own Consulate for assistance.

    Enemy Documents (Seizure)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what lessons for the seizure of enemy documents in future campaigns have been drawn from the seizure by unauthorised personnel of Iraqi Government documents. [116597]

    Eu Enlargement

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what period after accession countries joining the European Union will be allowed derogations on matters within EU policy.[116795]

    I will write to my hon. Friend shortly and place a copy in the Library of the House.

    Euro

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he received the Treasury documents relating to the five economic tests and the 18 background studies; what discussions he has held with ministerial colleagues on the tests since receipt of the documents; when he expects to complete his analysis of the documents; and what representations (a) he and (b) departmental officials will make to other Departments before a decision is reached on the economic tests. [115389]

    The Treasury's 18 supporting studies on EMU were sent to Cabinet Ministers on 16 May. My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Chancellor held meetings with Cabinet Members. There was an initial discussion at Cabinet on 22May which will be followed by a special Cabinet meeting on 5 June. The Chancellor will make a statement to the House of Commons on 9 June.

    Indonesia

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the government of Indonesia concerning the use of Hawk fighter jets in Aceh. [115784]

    Following the outbreak of hostilities in Aceh, our Ambassador in Jakarta sought to reconfirm the assurances from the Indonesian Government that British military equipment would not be used in an offensive role. Subsequently we have been told that Hawk aircraft have not and will not be used for combat; including ground attack in Aceh.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many members of the Indonesian armed forces have been trained by the United Kingdom since 1997; and at what cost. [115786]

    The United Kingdom has trained 27 officers from the Indonesian armed forces since 1997 at a cost of £317,693. A further 23 officers were awarded Chevening Scholarships since 1997 at a cost of £302,924.In addition, two officers and one civilian member of the Indonesian Ministry of Defence attended the regional 'Managing Defence in a Democracy' course held in Singapore in September 2002. The cost of this course was approximately £2,800 per student.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what notification the Government received from the Indonesian Government of their intention to deploy (a) Hawk aircraft and (b) other equipment built in and exported from the UK, in Aceh; [116498](2) what assessment he has made of whether the activities of the Indonesian armed forces in Aceh are consistent with assurances he has received from the Indonesian authorities; [116497](3) what assessment he has made of the Indonesian Government's adherence to its assurances that no British military equipment will be used in counter-insurgency operations in Indonesia; [116500](4) whether the Indonesian Government's assurances that equipment will not be used to infringe human rights in Aceh or elsewhere extend to equipment other than armoured personnel carriers. [116499]

    The British Government received notification from the Indonesian Government that they might deploy British-built military equipment to Aceh for casualty removal and logistics in August 2002. In light of this, fresh assurances were given by the Indonesians that British-built military equipment would not be used to violate human rights anywhere in Indonesia in September 2002. The Indonesians also said that the equipment would not be used offensively. These assurances cover all British-built military equipment.The Indonesian Government confirmed that British-supplied Hawk aircraft were used in Aceh on 19 May 2003, on the first day of renewed military action, but assured us that they were not used offensively. Nonetheless, I remain concerned that the use of the Hawk in Aceh may have been in breach of earlier assurances, and am actively seeking further assurance from the Indonesian Government about the future use of Hawk aircraft in Aceh. I will be raising the issue of the use of British-built equipment with the Indonesians on a visit to Indonesia this week. There have been no confirmed reports of other British-built military equipment being used in military action in Aceh. We continue to monitor the situation closely.

    Intergovernmental Conference

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what status will be accorded to the accession states of the European Union at the forthcoming intergovernmental conference in terms of (a) negotiation rights and (b) voting rights; and if he will make a statement. [116062]

    The UK fully supports the conclusions of the Copenhagen European Council, which state that "the new Member States will participate fully in the next Intergovernmental Conference". We understand this to mean they will have the same negotiating rights and voting rights as current member states.

    Iraq

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the admission of UN human rights monitors throughout Iraq and the establishment of a UN commission of experts to advise on approaches to ensuring justice in Iraq. [114880]

    The fall of Saddam Hussein's regime brought to an end a long period of violations of the Iraqi people's human rights. As requested in UN Security Council Resolution 1483, put forward by the UK, US and Spain and adopted on 22 May 2003, the UN Secretary-General has appointed a Special Representative whose responsibilities include the promotion of human rights. The UN, including the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is examining how to take this forward, including whether to deploy UN human rights monitors. We aim to work closely with the Special Representative. In addition, working to support the people of Iraq in moving toward the establishment of a representative government based on the rule of law and affording equal rights and justice to all Iraqi citizens will be the best means to ensure that their human rights are protected.As for ensuring justice in Iraq, we are keen for the UN to play a role in the reform of the judicial system and, as appropriate, in transitional justice It will be necessary to follow the wishes of the Iraqi people on this issue and, as far as this is possible, to have an Iraqi led process. We have sent a small team of experts to Iraq to assess the current capacity of the Iraqi judicial system in relation to transitional justice, to consult suitable Iraqi bodies as they are established and to make recommendations.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what response he has made to the request by the Director-General of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency on 19 May 2003 that IAEA inspectors be allowed back into Iraq. [115672]

    An announcement was made on 21 May 2003 that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be allowed to return to Iraq to resume their monitoring activities in relation to the IAEA'S nuclear safeguards agreement with Iraq. They will check to ensure the continued safety of Iraq's declared nuclear materials and facilities in accordance with Iraq's safeguards agreement with the agency.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Turkish Government on retaining the territorial integrity of Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [115683]

    My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed Turkey's policy towards Iraq with Abdullah GÜl, the Turkish Foreign Minister, during bilateral talks in Brussels on 21 March 2003. He also raised the subject with Mr. GÜl in a telephone conversation on 12 April 2003. In addition, we have frequently discussed Iraq with the Turkish Government at official level in the past few months. The Turkish Government have consistently affirmed their commitment to maintaining the territorial integrity of Iraq.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what restrictions have been placed by the occupying powers in Iraq on exiles wishing to return to their country. [115892]

    The coalition has placed no formal restrictions on exiles wishing to return home to Iraq.UK Government travel advice currently advises British nationals against visiting Iraq. Iraqi nationals wishing to return to Iraq should be aware of the continued security risks of doing so and should register their interest with the International Organisation for Migration in London.Iraqis who have applied for asylum status in the UK may find that the credibility of their asylum application could be affected if they visit Iraq and then return to the UK.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of the United States concerning the representation of women on the interim administration for Iraq. [116035]

    Our Special Representative to Iraq, John Sawers, and his team in Baghdad are working closely with Ambassador Bremer and US officials in the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) on the issue of engaging Iraqi women in the political and reconstruction process in Iraq. We have also seconded a gender expert from the Women and Equality Unit to the ORHA team. We believe having women well represented in any interim administration is a priority and are working towards this goal.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of Palestinian refugees in Iraq being evicted from their homes because they have no money to pay rent previously waived; and if he will make a statement. [116259]

    We are aware of the problems faced by the Palestinians resident in Iraq generally. We are continuing to work through the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq on refugee issues and are liaising closely with humanitarian agencies in Baghdad, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the ethnic violence in Kirkuk. [116414]

    Coalition forces and the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) are seeking to reduce ethnic tensions across northern Iraq. We remain in touch with Coalition forces on the ground, which have recently been reinforced to increase security throughout the city and beyond. We welcome the formation on 24 May of the Kirkuk interim technical council comprising representation from all ethnic communities, together with the selection of a Kurdish Mayor, Arab Deputy Mayor and provision for mayoral assistants from other ethnic groups on 28 May.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department made before the Gulf conflict of the importance of capturing Iraqi Government documents in relation to the discovery of Iraqi (i) weapons of mass destruction and (ii) links with terrorist groups. [116599]

    The UK Government recognise the importance of securing evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programmes and links to terrorist organisations, both through the seizure of documents and through information obtained by interviewing Iraqi scientists and Government officials. We see this as a high priority, and the effort to uncover evidence will continue.

    Dr. Julian Lewis