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Written Answers

Volume 447: debated on Monday 12 June 2006

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 12 June 2006

Minister for Women

Regional Development Agencies (Representation)

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what assessment she has made of the representation of black and ethnic minority women on the boards of regional development agencies. (75354)

I have been asked to reply.

At present three RDA board members are black or ethnic minority women, which represents 2.5 per cent. of total representation.

The Department is fully committed to strengthening the diversity of the RDA boards. Each year, awareness-raising events are run and information is distributed to appropriate organisations and other interested bodies in the regions. All of the material for these posts stresses that these appointments are made on merit and that applications from women, those from ethnic minority backgrounds and the disabled would be particularly welcome.

Retirement Planning

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what steps she is taking to encourage women to plan and save for their retirement. (75802)

The Government's recent White Paper, “Security in Retirement: Towards a New Pensions System”, contains proposed reforms that will enable women to make more informed choices about planning and saving for retirement, by providing simpler, fairer and more widely available state pensions as the foundation on which to save.

Proposals include:

Supported private saving by helping people to make better informed choices about their retirement, introducing a range of pension forecasts to give individuals an understanding of the income they are likely to receive in retirement.

Abolition of the minimum contribution conditions in basic state pension and awarding new credits for parenting and caring—ensure such contributions are rewarded through the state pension in the same way as paid contributions.

Measures to make it easier to save will be supported by a higher, fairer state pension linked to earnings. This will give a firm, simple-to-understand, foundation on which to build, and enable them to have confidence that their personal saving will be worthwhile.

Solicitor-General

Compensation Claims (Handling Services)

To ask the Solicitor-General whether the Treasury Solicitor's Department has negotiated with companies providing claims handling services, rather than solicitors, when dealing with compensation claims against Government Departments in connection with their role as employers since 1997. (76441)

The Treasury Solicitor's Department does not maintain a central record of claimants' representatives. Whether or not a claimant was represented by a company providing claims handling services, rather than by solicitors, can therefore only be ascertained by retrieving the relevant files and examining the correspondence in order to discover the identity of each claimant's representative. Such an exercise would be labour intensive and would be at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Solicitor-General if he will list the 10 non-public sector entities that have received the largest total sum of payments from his Department in each of the last five years. (71779)

I am answering this question on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), the Treasury Solicitors Department (TSol) and the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (RCPO). Returns for HMCPS Inspectorate and my own office are included in the figures for the Treasury Solicitors Department.

The last five years have been taken to be the financial years from 2001-02 to 2005-06.

Payments are taken to mean disbursements (and the value of any other consideration) for goods and services provided under a contract. The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) understands that payments of grants, credits and subsidies under statutory obligations for which the department is responsible are out of scope.

CPS

2001-02

Land Securities Property Ltd

Bull Integris

Workplace by Design Ltd

Damovo UK Ltd

Ericsson Ltd

Banner Business Supplies Ltd

Jones Lang Ltd

Global Crossing Ltd

Partity Resources Ltd

Planned Maintenance Engineering Ltd

2002-03

Logica UK Ltd

Land Securities Property Ltd

Damovo UK Ltd

Ikon Office Solutions PLC

Planned Maintenance Engineering Ltd

Jones Lang Ltd

Banner Business Supplies Ltd

Xerox Business Services Ltd

Donaldsons LLP

Raytheon UK Ltd

2003-04

Logica UK Ltd

Land Securities Property Ltd

Damovo UK Ltd

Ikon Office Solutions PLC

Xerox Business Services Ltd

Planned Maintenance Engineering Ltd

Capita Business Services Ltd

Donaldsons LLP

Banner Business Supplies Ltd

Jones Lang Ltd

2004-05

Logica UK Ltd

Land Securities Property Ltd

Damovo UK Ltd

Ikon Office Solutions PLC

Planned Maintenance Engineering Ltd

Mckesson Information Solutions Ltd

Xerox (UK) Ltd

Banner Business Supplies Ltd

Donaldsons LLP

Law Society

2005-06

Logica UK Ltd

Land Securities Property Ltd

Damovo UK Ltd

Xerox (UK) Ltd

Law Society

DX Network Services Ltd

Mckesson Information Solutions

DTZ Debenham Tie Leung

Donaldsons LLP

Cofathec Heatsave Ltd

SFO

2001-02

Ballamy Woodhouse

Computercentre (UK) Ltd

Mr Charles Miskin QC

Grant Thomton

Anthony Hacking QC

Hogg Robinson (Travel) Ltd

IBM UK Ltd

Michael Page UK Ltd

RSM Robson Rhodes LLP

VBA Temple QC

2002-03

Ballamy Woodhouse

Computacentre UK Ltd

Forensic Accounting LLP

Anthony Hacking QC

IBM UK Ltd

Logica CMG UK Ltd

Oyez Legal Technologies

PKF

RSM Robson Rhodes LLP

Safestem Ltd

2003-04

Ballamy Woodhouse

Anthony Donne QC

Forensic Accounting LLP

IBM UK Ltd

Logica CMG UK Ltd

PKF

RSM Robson Rhodes LLP

RWM Data Management Ltd

Safestem Ltd

VBA Temple QC

2004-05

Ballamy Woodhouse

Computacentre (UK) Ltd

Courtyard Contracting Services

Forensic Accounting LLP

IBM United Kingdom Ltd

Logica UK Ltd

Palm Estates

PKF

RSM Robson Rhodes

RWM Data Management

2005-06

Ballamy Woodhouse

Computacentre (UK) Ltd

Forensic Accounting LLP

IBM United Kingdom Ltd

Legal Inc Ltd

Logica UK Ltd

Palm Estates

PKF

RSM Robson Rhodes LLP

RWM Data Management

TSOL

2001-02

Adecco UK Ltd

Badenoch & Clark

Denton Wilde Sapte

Staple Inn Recruitment Ltd

Hedra Ltd Cathedral Consortium

Opus Personnel (City) Ltd

Williams Lea Facilities Management Ltd

Consult Rs Ltd

Elan Computing Ltd

Computacenter (UK) Ltd

2002-03

Adecco UK Ltd

Denton Wilde Sapte

Badenoch & Clark

Hedra Ltd Cathedral Consortium

Staple Inn Recruitment Ltd

Elan Computing Ltd

Opus Personnel (City) Ltd

Consult Rs Ltd

Simmons & Simmons

National Westminster Bank Plc

2003-04

Denton Wilde Sapte

Badenoch & Clark

Adecco UK Ltd

Masons Solicitors

Solicitec Ltd

National Westminster Bank Plc

Field Fisher Waterhouse

Elan Computing Ltd

Staple Inn Recruitment Ltd

Opus Personnel (City) Ltd

2004-05

Badenoch & Clark

National Westminster Bank PLC

Adecco UK Ltd

Lexisnexis Europe/UK Ltd

Elan Computing Ltd.

Opus Personnel (City) Ltd

Staple Inn Recruitment Ltd

Field Fisher Waterhouse

Amtec Consulting Ltd

Turner & Townsend

2005-06

Herman Miller Ltd

Badenoch & Clark

Adecco UK Ltd

Lexisnexis Europe/UK Ltd

Amtec Consulting Ltd

National Westminster Bank PLC

Elan Computing Limited

Dell Computer Corporation Ltd

Angela Mortimer Plc

Staple Inn Recruitment Ltd

RCPO1

2005-06

Mapeley

Fujitsu

Kroll Ontrack Legal Technologies Ltd

Mr. Philip Singer QC

Mr. Peter Clarke QC

Sir Derek Spencer QC

Oliver Sells QC

Mr. Mukul Chawla QC

Mr. Michael Brompton QC

Mr. Nigel Ingram

1 RCPO only came into existence on 18 April 2005

Trade and Industry

Air Industry

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions he has had with (a) the Secretary of State for Defence and (b) others on the impact of proposals in the Defence Industrial Strategy on the air industry sector. (74782)

My right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, as Chair of the Cabinet Committee on Restructuring of the European Aerospace and Defence Industry, held meetings in October 2005 and December 2005 with the Defence Secretary, Chief Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Minister for Defence Procurement and Minister for Industry and the Regions, which included discussion on the impact of proposals in the Defence Industrial Strategy on the UK's Defence Aerospace Industrial Sector.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State also regularly meets senior industrialists of aerospace and defence companies and has discussed aspects of the Defence Industrial Strategy with them.

The Department of Trade and Industry regards the Defence Industrial Strategy as vital to the future of the UK's defence industrial base. It establishes a long-run strategy to promote a sustainable base in the UK of those industrial capabilities needed to ensure appropriate sovereignty and to provide companies with greater clarity of future equipment needs which allows them to plan UK investment effectively.

Biomass

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received on promoting biomass in his energy review. (76153)

The Energy Review Team is analysing the 5,300 consultation responses—a number of which included reference to biomass—and has met representatives of the biomass industry.

Biomass has been reviewed by the independent Biomass Task Force and the Carbon Trust, both of whom published their reports in October 2005. The Government published their response to the Biomass Task Force in April 2006.

The Energy Review will report in the summer.

Coal

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what projections his Department has made of the potential difference between the sale price of domestic deep-mined coal and the international Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp coal price over the next (a) five and (b) 10 years. (74710)

International coal price assumptions are set out in Tables 5 and 6 of “The UK Energy and CO2 Emissions Projections”, published by the DTI in February 2006. These are presented in the following table.

Projections for the market price of UK deep-mined coal are not available.

US$/GigaJoule

Central scenario (favouring gas)

Central scenario (favouring coal)

High energy price scenario

Low energy price scenario

2010

1.50

1.50

1.70

1.30

2015

1.43

1.43

1.70

1.15

Source: DTI.

1http://www.dti.gov.uk/files/file26363.pdf

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his Department's most recent estimate is of the difference between the sale price of domestic deep-mined coal and the international Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp coal price. (74711)

The available data relate to steam coal (the coal suitable for use in steam boilers, e.g. a coal-fired power station). About 50 per cent. of UK domestic production of steam coal is deep-mined.

In Q4 2005, the domestic steam coal price paid by UK generators (who account for some 80 per cent. of total coal usage) was approximately £1.3/tonne higher than the international coal price1, although in the past it has been up to £12.2/tonne lower.

The following table shows the evolution of the UK steam coal and international prices since 2000. As can be seen, the domestic price has been relatively more stable over the period.

1 “Commodity Insurance Freight” price for coal with sulphur content less than 1 per cent. imported in north-west Europe; also referred to as Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) coal price (25GJ/tonne gross calorific value).

ARA price (£/tonne)

Prices received by UK coal producers for sales to generators

2000

Q1

18.5

28.6

Q2

21.4

27.9

Q3

23.2

28.2

Q4

27.1

28.0

2001

Q1

26.9

27.6

Q2

28.1

28.6

Q3

25.4

28.6

Q4

23.1

28.4

2002

Q1

22.2

28.2

Q2

19.4

28.4

Q3

16.9

27.5

Q4

20.8

27.1

2003

Q1

20.8

26.7

Q2

20.3

25.8

Q3

25.4

25.7

Q4

33.6

25.3

2004

Q1

35.0

25.7

Q2

36.2

27.6

Q3

39.6

27.4

Q4

38.3

26.8

2005

Q1

33.5

26.8

Q2

32.8

29.6

Q3

31.8

30.0

Q4

28.7

30.0

Source: DTI.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the capacity of the existing rail network to transport an increased supply of imported coal in the future. (74709)

I have been asked to reply.

Network Rail is currently undertaking Route Utilisation Strategies (RUS). The Freight RUS will be based on forecasts by the rail freight industry. All RUSs seek to balance capacity, passenger and freight demand, operational performance and cost. The RUSs will form the basis for the development and delivery of timetables, infrastructure and renewals of the network. Network Rail expects the draft Freight RUS to be published for consultation in September this year.

Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he will reply to the hon. Member for West Worcestershire’s letter of 6 April. (73893)

[holding answer 5 June 2006]: The hon. Member’s letter was transferred to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 20 April for reply.

Departmental Credit Cards

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what facility is available for senior civil servants in his Department to use credit cards supplied by the Department. (72905)

The Department makes available to appropriate staff a Government Procurement card (GPC), operated under the OGC buying solutions pre-tendered National Framework for the Government, in line with best practice.

In addition, a separate facility is available to staff who can demonstrate a need for booking hotels and associated costs.

Each of these facilities is available to senior civil servants and other staff according to need.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many people in his Department have been (a) disciplined and (b) dismissed for (i) inappropriate use of the internet while at work and (ii) using work telephones to access premium rate telephone numbers in each of the last five years. (67997)

The information relating to inappropriate use of the internet while at work is contained in the following table.

Number of dismissals

Other disciplinary sanction

2006 (to date)

1

0

2005

2

2

2004

0

3

2003

0

3

2002

0

3

There have been no cases during the past five years of disciplinary sanctions imposed, including dismissal, relating to the access via work telephone of premium rate telephone numbers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) EU foreign nationals and (b) non-EU foreign nationals have been employed in his Department in each of the last five years; what vetting procedures are in place for each category of staff; and whether these include liaison with foreign law enforcement agencies. (68013)

The Department of Trade and Industry does not hold information on EU foreign nationals and non-EU foreign nationals centrally.

The Department’s recruitment procedures require all candidates for employment to comply with the civil service nationality rules.

Furthermore, all staff who require security clearance for their posts in the Department are subject to the Department’s procedures for security vetting and comply with the policy set out to Parliament by the then Prime Minister on 15 December 1994, which came into force on 1 January 1995.

Eid-Ul-Adha

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many staff from his Department attended the Civil Service Islamic Society Eid-Ul-Adha event in London in 2005; and what the total cost was to his Department of their attendance. (73025)

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has written to the hon. Member with details of the Civil Service Islamic Society Eid-Ul-Adha event. A copy of the letter has been placed in the Library of the House.

Energy Distribution

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he (a) has had and (b) plans to have with energy distribution network operators on levels of investment in such networks. (74804)

I recently met the Energy Networks Association and a number of network operators were present. Discussion covered a range of topics, including the issue of investment in energy networks. Levels of investment are agreed between the Regulator (Ofgem) and the network businesses. These are called price controls and last for a period of five years. The most recent price control commenced in April 2004. Ofgem has to allow the networks sufficient revenue to ensure that they can meet licence conditions which include the requirement to run safe and efficient networks.

Energy Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent progress has been made with the energy review. (76028)

The Government published a consultation document on 23 January this year. The consultation document—“Our Energy Challenge, Securing clean and affordable energy for the long term”—invited responses on the important energy policy issues facing the country to be considered in the current Energy Review.

Some 5,300 responses were received from members of the public, business, academia, NGOs and others. We are assessing the enormous amount of evidence received in response to the Energy Review consultation and the review will report in the summer.

Foreign Travel

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much was spent on foreign travel by his Department in each of the last eight years. (76060)

The total amount spent on foreign travel by the DTI in each of the last eight years was:

Amount (£)

1998-99

5,019,971

1999-2000

5,291,063

2001-01

5,470,024

2001-02

4,912,785

2002-03

5,583,825

2003-04

4,260,257

2004-05

5,483,903

2005-06

5,601,629

Gaming Machines

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many gaming machines manufactured in the UK were exported in each year since 2001. (77153)

Information is not available in the form requested.

The following data give the total value of UK exports of coin or disc-operated games, other than bowling alley equipment.

£ million

Amount

2001

165.1

2002

126.5

2003

126.7

2004

131.4

2005

120.6

Source: Overseas Trade Statistics

Illegal Immigrants

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many illegal immigrants have been discovered to be employed by his Department in each year since 2001; in what capacities they were employed; how many were discovered as part of a criminal investigation; and what the nature of the charges brought against them were. (73968)

To my knowledge, there have been no illegal immigrants discovered to be employed by the Department since 2001.

Light Fittings (Hazardous Substances)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what advice he has issued to electrical (a) retailers and (b) wholesalers on the sale of existing stocks of non-electrical light fittings in advance of the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2005, S.I. 2005, No. 2748, coming into force on 1 July 2006. (76243)

The DTI published Government Guidance Notes on the impact of these regulations in October 2005, following their issue in draft for public consultation in July 2004.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received from the European Commission on the implementation of the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2005, S.I. 2005, No. 2748, in respect of non-electrical components of light fittings; and if he will make a statement. (76244)

The Department has not received any representations from the European Commission on these regulations.

Littlecombe/Dursley Hydroscheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what grounds the South West Regional Development Authority and its developer have withdrawn the hydroscheme from the Littlecombe/Dursley site. (75984)

The Littlecombe site at Dursley is the subject of a development agreement between the South West of England Regional Development Agency (South West RDA) and St. Modwen (the developer). The agreement requires the developer to carry out a whole series of activities in order to obtain planning permission for the regeneration scheme and deliver that scheme on the ground, either directly or through third parties (mostly residential developers). Agreement has to be reached with South West RDA on key issues.

Among other matters, St. Modwen are required to investigate and, where appropriate, incorporate various sustainability measures in their designs. In particular they are intending to reduce the CO2 impact of the scheme by 30 per cent. through the use of renewable energy sources. The scope for micro hydro-electric power generation (HEP) was considered by the developer in this context.

These investigations showed that the HEP scheme would not be economical—it would only produce enough electricity for two houses. In addition, the Environment Agency had concerns over the impact of the scheme and was not supportive. The South West RDA agreed with St. Modwen that HEP would not be pursued.

St. Modwen anticipate biomass district heating, ground heat loops and photovoltaic cells being incorporated into the scheme in order to achieve a 30 per cent. CO2 reduction.

Myalgic Encephalopathy/Encephalomyelitis

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into genetic abnormalities in white blood cells of myalgic encephalopathy and encephalomyelitis sufferers; and if he will make a statement. (74418)

The Department supports medical and clinical research through the Medical Research Council (MRC), which welcomes high quality proposals in these areas.

The MRC is not currently supporting any research specifically into genetic abnormalities in the white blood cells of sufferers from either myalgic encephalopathy or encephalomyelitis.

Northern Way Initiative

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what role his Department plays in the delivery of the Northern Way initiative. (74038)

DTI is represented on the Northern Way Strategic Policy Group which is responsible for policy development and stakeholder engagement.

The Northern Way is also identified as a key delivery vehicle for the Regional Economic Performance Public Service Agreement (REPPSA) to which DTI is a joint signatory with HM Treasury and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Nuclear Power Stations

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what planning permission would be required to build new nuclear power stations on existing sites in (a) England and Wales and (b) Scotland. (74599)

[holding answer 5 June 2006]: Any new proposal over 50 MW in England and Wales would require consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 and “deemed” planning permission under section 90 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. For Scotland, similar powers are exercised by Scottish Ministers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research his Department has undertaken into the likely effects on coastally located licensed nuclear sites of (a) coastal erosion and (b) inundation due to sea-level rise. (75369)

The Office of Science and Technology (OST) has conducted a major study on the future of flooding and coastal erosion as part of the Foresight Programme, http://www.foresight.gov.uk/Previous_Projects/Flood_and_Coastal Defence/index. html.

Operators of nuclear sites such as British Nuclear Group and British Energy are responsible for flood defences and for protecting the site against coastal erosion. Nearly all of the sites are situated on the coast and rest behind sea defences, which are maintained to a very high standard. Reviews are made periodically to monitor long-term protection, and regional shoreline management plans have been developed on behalf of the coastal authorities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many jobs the Department estimates will be created as a result of the decommissioning of and clean-up operations for Wylfa nuclear power station; and if he will make a statement. (75609)

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has responsibility for the decommissioning and clean-up of the UK's historic nuclear legacy—including the Magnox nuclear power station at Wylfa.

The current NDA expectation is that Wylfa will close at the end of 2010. Wylfa's plans for decommissioning and clean-up are still in preparation and job requirements have not yet been finalised. But in preparation for the defuelling and decommissioning phase of care and maintenance the NDA have prepared indicative numbers (derived from Wylfa's current plans) which indicate that at the end of operations, job numbers (both staff and subcontractors) will be about 700 by 2010, reducing to 160 by 2024. In so far as is practicable, the NDA will seek to ensure that employees who wish to stay with a site through to its next phase are able to remain in employment and receive appropriate support, development and retraining. Subcontractors currently providing site support are expected to continue to do so during the defuelling and decommissioning phases. On this basis, to be significant new opportunities for employment are unlikely.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which (a) nuclear power stations and (b) nuclear waste storage sites his Department assesses to be at risk from (i) sea-level rise, (ii) coastal erosion, (iii) seawater inundation and (iv) storm surges in the next (A) 10, (B) 20 and (C) 50 years; and if he will make a statement. (75614)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) license all nuclear power stations under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965. Flood risks, which are enhanced by coastal erosion, are one category of external hazards that HSE require to be addressed in safety cases for nuclear plants.

Safety cases are prepared by the plant operator. They are routinely reviewed through the Periodic Safety Review (PSR) Process, which allows for recent and future extrapolations to be reviewed. They are scrutinised and then reviewed periodically (at intervals not greater than 10 years) by HSE. This provides an opportunity to ensure that operators are updating their predictions. The cost of HSE reviewing safety cases is recovered from the industry.

The Office of Science and Technology (OST) has conducted a major study for the Foresight programme on the future of coastal erosion:

http://www. foresight. gov.uk/Previous_Projects/Flood_and_ Coastal_Defence/index.html

The study looked ahead into the next 30-100 years and considered the future risks from flooding and costal erosion. Future predicted erosion rates were found to be location specific, and are likely to be extremely variable.

The following coastal defence work is taking place, or is proposed, in the proximity of nuclear power plants:

At Berkley, Gloucestershire, a proposed sea wall repair will provide protection for 25 years. At Dungeness, Kent, a beach-feeding programme is routinely undertaken to protect the foreshore and is likely to be maintained until at least 2018 (when Dungeness B is expected to end). Long term management options for the area adjacent to the power station are under consideration.

At Hartlepool, a proposal to extend a marine cycling facility navigation channel may require that the coastal defences of the power station be reinforced. Discussions with the developer are underway.

At Sizewell B, Suffolk, the frontage of the adjacent Minsmere Bird Reserve is not secure and long tern management options are being considered.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority and British Energy have confirmed that there are no foreseeable risks to their nuclear power station or nuclear storage sites from sea-level rises, coastal erosion, seawater inundation and storm surges.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment has been made of the effects of future possible (a) sea-level rise and (b) coastal erosion at (i) existing and (ii) potential nuclear sites; and if he will make a statement. (75615)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) license all nuclear power stations under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965. Flood risks, which are enhanced by coastal erosion, are one category of external hazards that HSE require to be addressed in safety cases for nuclear plants.

Safety cases are prepared by the plant operator, They are routinely reviewed through the Periodic Safety Review (PSR) process, which allows for recent and future extrapolations to be reviewed. They are scrutinised and then reviewed periodically (at intervals not greater than 10 years) by HSE. This provides an opportunity to ensure that operators are updating their predictions. The cost of HSE reviewing safety cases is recovered from the industry.

The Office of Science and Technology (OST) has conducted a major study for the Foresight programme on the future of coastal erosion;

http://www.foresight.gov.uk/Previous_Projects/Flood_and_ Coastal_Defence/index.html

The study looked ahead into the next 30-100 years and considered the future risks from flooding and costal erosion. Future predicted erosion rates were found to be location specific, and are likely to be extremely variable.

The following coastal defence work is taking place, or is proposed, in the proximity of nuclear power plants:

At Berkley, Gloucestershire, a proposed sea wall repair will provide protection for 25 years. At Dungeness, Kent, a beach-feeding programme is routinely undertaken to protect the foreshore and is likely to be maintained until at least 2018 (when Dungeness B is expected to end). Long-term management options for the area adjacent to the power station are under consideration.

At Hartlepool, a proposal to extend a marine cycling facility navigation channel may require that the coastal defences of the power station be reinforced. Discussions with the developer are under way.

At Sizewell B, Suffolk, the frontage of the adjacent Minsmere Bird Reserve is not secure and long tern management options are being considered.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority and British Energy have confirmed that there are no foreseeable risks to their nuclear power station or nuclear storage sites from sea-level rises, coastal erosion, seawater inundation and storm surges.

As regards potential nuclear sites, the role of civil nuclear power including safety, cost, decommissioning and waste, is being considered as part of the Energy Review alongside other options to ensure the UK remains on track to meet its medium and long-term energy policy goals. The Energy Review will report in the summer.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what incidents at nuclear power installations in the United Kingdom have been reported to Ministers by the Health and Safety Executive since 1997; and if he will make a statement. (75624)

There have been 57 incidents at nuclear power stations since 1997, which met the ministerial reporting criteria. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publish details of these incidents in their quarterly statements.

Quarterly statements of nuclear incidents at nuclear installations from 1 October 2000 are available on the HSE website at:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/nuclear/quarterly-stat/index.htm

Hard copies of quarterly statements from 1 January 1997 and September 2000 have been placed in the Library of the House.

Parliamentary Ombudsman

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list those occasions when the recommendations of a report from the parliamentary ombudsman have been (a) rejected and (b) partly rejected by his Department since 1997. (76264)

There have been no occasions since 1997 when the recommendations of a report from the parliamentary ombudsman were rejected or partly rejected by the Department.

Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will estimate the pension liability of his Department over the next 30 years. (75234)

I refer the hon. Member to a technical note by HM Treasury which was placed in the Library of the House on 2 March 2006, Official Report, columns 388-90W, following an oral statement by the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Pension liabilities are not estimated for individual departments, they are estimated for individual pension schemes, as shown in the breakdown of liabilities per pension scheme given in Table 1 of the technical note.

Post Offices

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post offices there are in Scotland; and how many there were in each of the last eight years. (76916)

Post Office Ltd have provided the following figures relating to the numbers of post offices branches in Scotland since 1998:

Period: end March

Number of post office branches

1998

2,051

1999

2,026

2000

1,999

2001

1,933

2002

1,907

2003

1,887

2004

1,810

2005

1,712

2006

1,688

Information relating to post office branches for each parliamentary constituency is placed in the Library of the House on an annual basis.

Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the effect of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive on the use of lead-free solder within the model railway hobby industry; and if he will make a statement. (75338)

The RoHS Directive has no effect on the use of lead-free solder within the model railway hobby industry.

Royal Commission on the Press

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list recommendations from the Royal Commission on the Press which were (a) accepted, (b) implemented in legislation and (c) rejected; and if he will make a statement. (71981)

Sickness Absence

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many staff in his Department have had (a) five or more, (b) four, (c) three and (d) two periods of sick leave of less than five days in each of the last three years. (73024)

The DTI’s records are as follows:

Number of staff (DTI HQ, including SBS and UKTI)

Spells of absence of less than five days

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

5 or more

199

155

139

4

152

144

134

3

287

232

207

2

508

489

435

Small Business Research Initiative

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the written statement of 16 February 2006, Official Report, column 121WS, on the Small Business Research Initiative, what definition of research is used for the purposes of the initiative; how many of the contracts relate to science-based research; and if he will list the contracts awarded and their values. (75335)

My right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Alun Michael) set out the definition of Research and Development (R and D) in guidelines placed in the Library of the House on 16 February 2006. The guidelines on the Meaning of R and D for Tax Purposes (issued by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 5 March 2004 for the purposes of section 837A Income and Corporation Taxes 1988) apply. In addition, however, policy studies and R and D directed towards the humanities and social studies will also be included.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth said in response to the hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) on 16 November 2005, Official Report, column 1341W, the Government are taking steps to improve disclosure of Small Business Research Initiative performance by Departments. However, this will be at an aggregate level and on an annual basis. Information about individual contracts is a matter for the individual Departments concerned.

Uranium

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent assessment he has made of the security of future uranium supplies. (75897)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mrs. Curtis-Thomas) on 10 May 2006, Official Report, column 268W.

Vehicle Sharing

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what incentives his Department offers to encourage staff to share vehicles when travelling to work. (73027)

The Department's buildings are predominately in city centre locations. It therefore does not offer any specific incentives to share vehicles when travelling to and from work but instead actively encourages the use of public transport. Such incentives include interest-free loans for the purchase of season tickets and a scheme to encourage the use of bicycles to travel to work.

Prime Minister

Abortion

To ask the Prime Minister how many (a) letters and (b) postcards he has received from (i) members of the public, (ii) hon. Members and (iii) Members of the House of Lords about abortion; how many and what percentage (A) support and (B) oppose abortion; and if he will make a statement. (75636)

Since 1 January 2006 my office has received appropriately 6,000 representations about this issue. Given the volume of correspondence I receive, with thousands of letters each week covering a broad spectrum of issues, my office records letters by subject rather than by the view expressed.

Chequers (Official Appointments)

To ask the Prime Minister with which individuals, other than officials, hon. Members and staff, he had a scheduled official appointment at Chequers, other than at official dinners, between 1 July 2003 and 31 December 2003. (76311)

My officials and I have meetings with a wide range of organisations and individuals on a wide range of subjects. Information relating to internal meetings, discussion and advice is not disclosed as to do so could harm the frankness and candour of internal discussion.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Prime Minister what incentives are available to encourage members of his staff to use public transport for travelling to and from work. (75092)

For these purposes, my office forms part of the Cabinet Office. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office (Mr. McFadden) today.

Intelligence and Security Committee

To ask the Prime Minister whether positive vetting is conducted (a) prior to him inviting hon. Members and Peers to serve on the Intelligence and Security Committee and (b) after he has extended an invitation to hon. Members and Peers. (76371)

Official Residences

To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will list the official residences occupied by Members of the Government; whether each is open to the public; and what restrictions apply to public access in each case; (73880)

(2) if he will make it his policy to increase opportunities for members of the public to view the interior of Dorneywood; and if he will make a statement;

(3) if he will make arrangements for the public to view (a) Chequers, (b) Chevening and (c) Dorneywood at times and on dates that do not inconvenience the Ministers who have use of the properties; and if he will make a statement.

I refer my hon. Friend to the answers I gave the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Chris Huhne) on 13 July 2005, Official Report, column 1074W and the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) on 16 March 2006, Official Report, column 2394W.

Since then, my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby South (Margaret Beckett) has moved jobs, but remains in her official residences. My right hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Geoff Hoon) has also moved jobs and, as has already been announced, will be vacating his Government-owned residence shortly.

My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has announced his personal decision that he no longer wishes to have the use of Dorneywood.

There is no public access to Chequers for security reasons. There is no right of public access to the houses at Chevening and Dorneywood. The garden at Chevening is on occasion opened to the public for charitable events (this is a matter for the Trustees). The garden at Dorneywood is opened to the public under the National Gardens Scheme at various times during the year.

Surveillance Commissioner

To ask the Prime Minister what factors underlay his decision to appoint Sir Charles Mantell as a Surveillance Commissioner. (76281)

I refer the hon. Member to the press notice issued by my Office, a copy of which is available on the Number 10 website. A copy has also been placed in the Library of the House.

Witness Statements

To ask the Prime Minister what sanctions are available under (a) the Ministerial Code and (b) the Civil Service Code against someone who, when providing a witness statement in support of an application to the High Court by a Secretary of State, (i) withholds information which is material to the Court's consideration of the application and (ii) includes in his statement information which he knows to be false or misleading. (76307)

Section 1 of the Ministerial Code sets out the process for handling alleged breaches of the Ministerial Code. Departmental staff handbooks will set out the procedures for handling alleged breaches of the Civil Service Code.

Leader of the House

Parliamentary Calendar

25. To ask the Leader of the House what plans he has to review the parliamentary calendar. (76117)

My right hon. Friend remains open to representations on issues relating to the parliamentary calendar.

Parliamentary Questions

To ask the Leader of the House what steps he is taking to improve the speed and accuracy of answers to written parliamentary questions. (76115)

All Ministers fully understand the requirement for timeliness and accuracy in providing answers to written questions. I have discussed at Cabinet with my ministerial colleagues the importance we attach to proper accountability to Parliament. My Office helps to ensure that the standards are adhered to and Mr. Speaker knows my own commitment to this.

At the same time, the House must accept that there has been an ever-increasing number of written questions being tabled. Not all perhaps are tabled with the full involvement of the Member in whose name they are tabled and some perhaps may be inspired by outside pressure to be seen to be tabling a high number. This inevitably places the system under pressure.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Bovine TB

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department has undertaken regarding methods of badger culling; and if he will make a statement. (75583)

My Department undertook a desk study of possible culling methods and identified shooting, snaring and gassing as the methods most worthy of further investigation. This research is currently under way. A full report will be published when the work is completed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the Home Secretary regarding the issuing of licences for authorising badger culling. (75584)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when his Department expects to make its response to the public consultation on bovine tuberculosis and badger culling. (75585)

At this stage we cannot give an indication on the specific timing of a response to the consultation or a decision.

However, given the seriousness of the disease situation we aim to proceed as quickly as possible while giving the issue the thorough consideration it requires.

The decision is not a simple one. We are taking into account all the evidence, including the science.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department has a preferred method of culling badgers. (75586)

No decisions have yet been made on whether or not it is appropriate to cull badgers in order to prevent the spread of bTB, nor by what method if a cull was considered appropriate.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will visit Shrewsbury constituency to meet a farmer who has had a recent outbreak of bovine tuberculosis to discuss the Government's plans to help farmers fight this disease. (74759)

Defra Ministers receive many invitations to visit individual farmers around the country to discuss their circumstances. Unfortunately, it is not possible to accept all of them. However, Ministers and officials meet regularly with organisations representing farmers and cattle keepers to discuss a variety of important matters, including bovine TB.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment has been made by his Department of the (a) movements, (b) relocation and (c) displacement of protected species, with particular reference to badgers, resulting from work by transport infrastructure companies required for (i) health and safety, (ii) environmental and (iii) other reasons; and whether badgers relocated in such circumstances are routinely tested for bovine tuberculosis. (74984)

[holding answer 5 June 2006]: Defra issues licences to allow the interference with badger setts to prevent serious damage to property, and to permit agricultural, forestry or drainage operations. The majority of licences involve interference to exclude badgers from part or all of a sett, sometimes followed by sett destruction. Very few licences for translocation of badgers are granted. Some licensed activities include maintenance works undertaken by transport infrastructure companies.

Badgers typically have more than one sett which they use in their territory. Thus there is no reason to believe that the closure, or partial closure, of a sett would necessarily cause badgers to move outside their normal range. My Department has commissioned a study which involves looking at badger movements when licensed sett interference is carried out in urban situations. However it is too early to draw any conclusions from this work which is currently under way.

Defra's wildlife management advisers ensure that a proportion of licences is assessed through monitoring. The method, timing and amount of monitoring will vary depending upon a number of factors such as the species, site or activities being licensed. Defra aims to monitor around 30 per cent. of badger licences. A proportion of these will be targeted towards sensitive or complex cases such as those involving translocation or cases that have attracted a high level of public attention. The results of monitoring are recorded and if a breach of licence conditions has been identified Defra will consider an appropriate course of enforcement action.

English Nature issues licences to permit the disturbance of badgers and destruction of setts during the course of development activities, which would include some activities associated with the maintenance of transport infrastructure. English Nature does not license the translocation of animals in these cases—it licenses disturbance to setts, and where setts are to be lost as a result of the activity the licence allows animals to be excluded from the sett before it is destroyed. Where no suitable alternative setts are available nearby for the badgers to move to, an artificial sett must be constructed within the animals' existing territory, before they are excluded from their existing sett. No significant movement of badgers is likely to result from these activities.

In the very few cases where Defra has licensed the translocation of badgers to another part of the country, it has been a condition of the licence that all badgers caught must be tested for bTB.

Brixham Fish Market

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding his Department will make available for the development of the Brixham Fish Market and Employment Space Development. (75514)

[holding answer 8 June 2006]: Torbay council has submitted an application for part funding of this project under the terms of the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance scheme. My officials are currently assessing this application in accordance with normal procedures and expect to make a decision shortly.

Dairy Farmers

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to help dairy farmers to cope with changes in milk prices. (74761)

Price negotiations are a private commercial matter in which Government cannot get involved, provided competition rules are respected. Milk prices are subject to change on a regular basis, and farmers understand that they fluctuate throughout the year as a result of supply and demand. However, the underlying price of milk is expected to fall as a result of CAP reform. Through the Dairy Premium, farmers were partially compensated for these price reductions.

The Government do recognise that the dairy industry is facing a number of challenges, not least because of farm-gate prices. Although the Dairy Supply Chain Forum does not discuss milk prices, it provides information to help the dairy industry make informed decisions about its future in a world with much freer trade and lower prices. It has also welcomed the moves in the industry towards more transparent milk contracts.

Dangerous Dogs Act

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the operation of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991; and what recent representations he has received about the operation of this Act. (75632)

There are no plans to review the Dangerous Dogs Act. The police consider that the 1991 Act is a useful tool in dealing with dangerous dogs. Most dog owners are aware that as a result of this legislation there can be serious legal consequences if they fail to keep their dog under control.

The Department receives various representations and holds regular discussions with our partners on the operation of the Act.

Departmental Budget

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much of the budget for his Department remained unspent in the last financial year. (70541)

The provisional outturn currently shows that £24 million of the total departmental budget of £6,043 million for 2005-06 was unspent at the end of the last financial year.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what incentives are available to encourage members of his staff to use public transport for travelling to and from work. (75106)

Defra encourages the use of public transport and cycling as an alternative to car use for business as well as personal travel. In order to help staff carry out their normal commutes to work in a sustainable way, Defra offers advances of salary for season ticket purchase (repayable in equal monthly instalments within the life of the season ticket). Advances for purchase of a bicycle are also available.

Environmental Liability Directive

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the scope of the Environmental Liability Directive, without extension of its scope in implementing legislation, is (a) wider and (b) narrower than the (i) Environmental Protection Act 1990: Part I Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations (England and Wales) 2000 and Environmental Protection Act 1990: Part II, (ii) Water Resources Act 1991, (iii) Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and (iv) Environmental Protection Act 1990: Part IIA. (74281)

[holding answer 5 June 2006]: The question is a difficult one to respond to meaningfully. The referenced domestic legislation and the ELD are not directly or entirely comparable. The ELD, unlike the Pollution Prevention and Control or Waste legislation, is not a regulatory regime—there are no initial compliance costs; it imposes costs only when a business causes significant environmental damage. The legislation dealing with EU and domestic biodiversity provides a much more limited framework for liability for remediation than the ELD. The contaminated land (part IIA, Environmental Protection Act 1990) regime has some overlapping features with the ELD and can deal with current damage, but it is largely concerned with historic damage, which is outside the scope of the ELD.

Fallen Livestock

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will list the sites in (a) England, (b) Wales and (c) Scotland which are licensed to incinerate fallen livestock. (75396)

Defra licenses facilities to incinerate animal carcases under the Animal By-Products Regulations (ABPR). I will write to the hon. Member with a list of APBR-approved sites and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Farmers

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of farmers who have left the agricultural sector in each of the last 10 years. (74501)

Figures from the Agricultural and Horticultural Survey indicate labour on agricultural holdings in June each year. These figures therefore show net change only in the number of farmers.

Number of farmers in England

Full time

Part time

Total

1996

207,807

1997

206,421

1998

118,297

89,859

208,156

1999

114,068

89,294

203,362

2000

107,029

113,902

220,931

2001

106,886

126,942

233,828

2002

103,782

121,739

225,520

2003

100,468

118,655

219,123

2004

98,122

126,240

224,362

2005

97,879

125,082

222,961

Notes:

(a) Figures prior to 2000 are for main holdings only. Figures from 2000 onwards include all holdings. A minor holding has to meet all of the following conditions:

(i) the total area less than six hectares

(ii) the labour requirement is estimated to be less than 100 standard person days

(iii) there is no regular full-time farmer or worker

(iv) the glasshouse area is less than 100 square metres

(v) the occupier does not farm another holding.

(b) Number of farmers includes partners, directors and spouses (if working on the holding). Part-time and full-time split not available for 1996 and 1997.

(c) Estimates have been made for non-respondents.

Source:

June Agricultural Survey

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people were employed in (a) dairy farming, (b) beef farming, (c) sheep farming, (d) arable farming, (e) mixed farming and (f) other forms of farming in Gloucestershire in (i) 1980, (ii) 1990, (iii) 2000 and (iv) 2005. (74502)

The number of employees on holdings by farm type in Gloucestershire are as follows:

Farm type

1990

2000

2005

Cereals

679

543

586

General cropping

355

223

165

Horticulture

598

495

690

Pigs and Poultry

171

122

100

Dairy

749

401

359

Cattle and sheep (less favoured areas)

0

0

0

Cattle and sheep (lowland)

553

417

354

Mixed

636

376

364

Other types

366

342

214

All types

4,107

2,919

2,832

The number of farmers, partners, directors and spouses (if working on the holding) on holdings by farm type in Gloucestershire are as follows:

Farm type

1990

2000

2005

Cereals

484

625

706

General cropping

141

112

84

Horticulture

332

404

426

Pigs and Poultry

119

185

261

Dairy

870

701

587

Cattle and Sheep (less favoured areas)

0

0

0

Cattle and sheep (lowland)

1,270

1,687

1,764

Mixed

471

514

578

Other types

409

963

899

All types

4,096

5,191

5,305

Source:

June Agricultural Survey

Flood Defences

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of London’s flood defences in protecting South East London. (75821)

The Environment Agency is the main operating authority for flood risk management in England. The tidal defences that currently protect South East London and most of the Thames Estuary are of a very high standard, and an estimated £200 million will be spent on their maintenance and operation until 2021. The Agency is also developing a long-term management plan for the Thames Estuary to tackle flood risks until 2100.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the evidential basis was for the recent alterations to the published flood risk maps for Willington, Derbyshire; what representations the Environment Agency received from (a) owners of the former Willington power station site and (b) their representatives prior to the changes being made; what account was taken of (i) the Trent Fluvial Strategy studies and (ii) planning proposals for the area when the changes were being prepared; and whether the changes have been reflected in the system for the communication to village residents of risk to their properties. (75970)

The Environment Agency had discussions with consultants acting on behalf of the developer about Willington power station from June 2004 until February 2006. The consultants were required to address flood risk issues in a comprehensive Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) of the site.

The findings of the consultants’ FRA work were in line with the recommendations of the Trent Fluvial Strategy, which was published by the Environment Agency in March 2005.

The FRA was submitted as part of the outline planning application and was considered during our assessment of the proposals. The FRA considered all sources of risk to the site in question.

The changes have been reflected in the way in which the Environment Agency have communicated with the residents of Willington over risk to their properties.

Funding

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what funding has been allocated to Gloucestershire in each of the last five years for re-training of farmers; and what proportion of the funding came from funds allocated for foot and mouth recovery. (75042)

The principal mechanism for funding the re-training of farmers is the Vocational Training Scheme (VTS), set up as part of the England Rural Development Programme and administered by DEFRA’s Rural Development Service. Under this scheme, applications are accepted from either training organisers, or eligible individuals.

A small amount of funding (£6,713 in 2005 and 2006) has been awarded to individual Gloucestershire farmers, for training in plumbing, LGV driving and technical farming skills. However, the vast majority of VTS funding has been awarded to projects that operate on a wider geographical area, either focusing on general business skills, diversification opportunities, or skills development related to specific farming activities, in order to maximise returns.

Examples of the training available to Gloucestershire farmers are shown in the following table:

Project holder

Nature of project

Amount funded (£)

South West of England Land Based Colleges (SWELBC)

Region-wide programme, jointly managed by Hartpury College, Gloucestershire, and Duchy College, Cornwall. Training in business and technical skills.

746,091

UK Dairy Academy

Raising technical and business performance of dairy farmers.

349,511

Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester

Market training for the agricultural industry.

14,737

Abacus Organic Services

Various organic farming courses.

150,754

Cotswold Machinery Ring Ltd./7Y

Training for members on business development, marketing, environment and biodiversity, IT.

243,198

Alpaca Education and Training Centre

Courses on all aspects of alpaca farming.

106,538

TAG/Stonegate

Benchmarking for egg production businesses.

35,218

Rural Business Skills Ltd.

Marketing for profit.

32,071

Kite Consulting

Waitrose Select Farm Group Benchmarking Project.

45,619

Organic Milk Suppliers Co-operative (OMSCo)

Raising standards of organic milk production in the South West.

148,500

Business Link Devon and Cornwall

South West Rural Enterprise Gateway—training to improve farmers’ occupational skills and competence.

212,500

Vocational Training Scheme funds are separate from those allocated for foot and mouth recovery.

Fungaflor Formulation Application

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when his Department will reach a decision on the Fungaflor formulation application; and if he will make a statement. (73577)

The Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) is responsible for authorising uses of pesticide products.

PSD received an application, for the product Fungaflor in 2002. However, this application was rejected because it did not contain sufficient information to allow PSD to conduct a risk assessment demonstrating an acceptable risk to humans and the environment.

Since that application a new company has taken on ownership of the product Fungaflor. This company submitted a new application to PSD on 1 June 2006. This has now been considered and PSD issued an approval for Fungaflor on 6 June.

Health and Safety

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how he plans to implement the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals legislation; and if he will take steps to ensure that there is no removal of the current legislative protection for the health and safety of the UK work force as a consequence of the implementation of that legislation; (75058)

(2) what consultation he plans to undertake with the Health and Safety Executive on the (a) implementation and (b) administration of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals regulations.

We are currently discussing the implementation of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) legislation and a range of related issues with the agencies involved in the regulation of chemicals and with the devolved Administrations. The Health and Safety Executive is fully involved in this process and continues to work closely with Defra, in particular providing support on areas that are relevant to occupational health. REACH will not affect existing health and safety legislation.

One of the more important implementation aspects will be the appointment of a UK competent authority for REACH later this year. The competent authority will work closely with existing enforcement bodies, including the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency.

Live Fish

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) volume of and (b) income derived from trade in live fish was in each year since 2000 between the UK and (i) Northern Ireland, (ii) Guernsey, (iii) Spain, (iv) Italy, (v) Sweden and (vi) Denmark. (75872)

[holding answer 8 June 2006]: Information is not available on the value of trade in live fish between the mainland parts of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland and Guernsey. Information on the value of trade between the UK and the other countries requested is given in the table.

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Imports from: (tonnes)

Spain

2.7

3.0

0.9

0.4

1.4

2.1

Italy

4.5

0.0

0.3

23.8

0.1

2.5

Sweden

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Denmark

0.0

0.0

1

0.0

1

0.0

Imports from: £000

Spain

374

360

76

41

330

188

Italy

4

0

10

30

4

11

Sweden

0

0

0

0

0

0

Denmark

0

0

1

0

1

0

Exports to: (tonnes)

Spain

0.3

1.3

8.5

4.3

7.7

11.3

Italy

0.4

1

1.8

1.9

1.5

5.2

Sweden

1.8

23.9

30.3

1.9

4.3

6.8

Denmark

3.0

27.6

7.8

10.3

2.9

1.2

Exports to: £000

Spain

4

8

70

36

72

91

Italy

1

1

15

18

12

59

Sweden

75

271

318

19

263

403

Denmark

557

280

110

336

193

802

1 Denotes greater than 0 but either less than 50Kg or less than 500. Information is on current price data, and on an overseas trade statistics basis.

Source:

Compiled by Fisheries Statistics Unit, Marine Fisheries Agency, from HM Revenue and Customs data.

Mobile Phones

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the environmental impact of disposing of mobile phones; (75558)

(2) what measures are being taken to encourage the (a) recycling and (b) safe disposal of mobile phones; and if he will make a statement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of mobile phones disposed of in England in each of the last five years. (75559)

This Department does not collect information on the recycling or reuse of mobile phones. However, the mobile phone industry estimates that 18 million handsets are replaced every year and that in 2003 and 2004, about 5 million handsets were taken by mobile phone recycling and refurbishment companies in the UK. The industry estimates that about 60 per cent. of these were refurbished and the remaining 40 per cent. were sent for materials recycling.

Northern Way Initiative

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what role his Department plays in the delivery of the Northern Way initiative. (74039)

The Northern Way is a pan-regional growth strategy being taken forward by the three northern Regional Development Agencies and their partners. Its work has potential to play an important role in delivering Government’s Regional Economic Performance PSA. The Department for Communities and Local Government co-ordinates Government involvement with the Northern Way. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs works with the Northern Way where its activities relate to our responsibilities.

Parliamentary Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he will answer written parliamentary questions 66755 and 66756 on single farm payments, tabled by the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale on 25 April. (74544)

[holding answer 5 June 2006]: Answers to these questions were provided on 5 June 2006, Official Report, column 163W.

Performance Targets

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which of his Department’s customer performance targets are being missed, on the basis of the latest available information; and if he will make a statement. (71693)

The Department provides regular performance updates against its outstanding public service agreement targets through its annual Departmental Report and its Autumn Performance Report published in spring/summer and autumn respectively. The 2005 versions, which are the most recently published, are available in the Library of the House and online at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/deprep/default.htm

A short summary of progress against our 2004 Spending Review targets can be found in Appendix 4 of the 2005 Autumn Performance Report, with more detailed information available in Chapter 2.

The Department also gives regular updates on its performance via HM Treasury’s website at:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/performance/DEFRA.cfm

Defra’s 2006 Departmental Report is due for publication in spring 2006.

Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the average cost per ton of recycling (a) wood, (b) glass, (c) plastics, (d) paper, (e) cardboard and (f) metal in each London borough in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (75540)

Defra does not gather information on individual recycling schemes or the costs of recycling waste material. These will vary depending on a number of factors, including the collection method used by a local authority, the materials collected and the market for recycled materials.

River Severn

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what studies his Department has evaluated investigating the potential for a build-up of contaminated water in the Severn Estuary up-stream of a proposed barrage scheme; and if he will make a statement. (75606)

The environmental implications of a Severn Barrage, including water quality implications, were considered in detail during the 1980s as part of tripartite studies funded by the then Department of Energy, Central Electricity Generating Board and Severn Tidal Power Group. These studies are reported in “Energy paper 57: The Severn Barrage Project: General Studies (ISBN 0 11 412952 5) HMSO 1989” and associated reports, which can be found at:

http://www.tsoshop.co.uk/bookstore.asp?FO=1159966&Action=Book&ProductlD=0114129525&From=SearchResults

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will list the sources of radioactive (a) wastewater discharged into and (b) runoff into the River Severn; and if he will make a statement. (75608)

The Environment Agency lists the organisations that are currently authorised under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993 to make disposals, either directly or indirectly, to the River Severn or its estuary on its website at:

http://maps.environment-agency.gov.uk/wiyby/wiybyController? extraClause=PROCESS_NAME~'RADIOACTIVE% 20SUBSTANCES'

Rural and Agricultural Shows

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which rural and agricultural shows will be attended by Ministers from his Department up to 31 August. (76363)

Defra will have a corporate presence at the following rural and agricultural shows up to 31 August. We will be attending additional shows beyond this date.

14-15 June: Cereals 2006 in Lincolnshire

28-29 June: The Royal Norfolk Show

2-5 July: The Royal Show, at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire

11-13 July: The Great Yorkshire Show

26 July: Fruit Focus, East Malling, Kent

28-30 July: CLA Game Fair, Romsey, Hampshire

All five Ministers will be attending the Royal Show between 2-4 July.

With regards to the other shows on this list, we are currently putting plans in place to ensure that where possible Ministers attend, based on relevance to their individual portfolios and availability.

Additionally, Ministers may of course choose to attend further shows where there is not a corporate presence. For example, Lord Rooker attended the Royal Cornwall Show on 9 June.

Rural Payments Agency

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of systems for paying farm subsidies to farmers in (a) Scotland, (b) Wales, (c) European Union states and (d) England. (71541)

Such assessments are rarely productive as the systems and processes adopted by each paying agency in the UK and across the EU will have been tailored to the specific circumstances of the territory that it serves.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department’s legal bills have been (a) in each year since 2001 and (b) in relation to the Rural Payments Agency; and if he will make a statement. (74072)

Legal costs incurred by this Department and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) over the past five financial years are as follows:

DEFRA

£ million

2001-02

6.31

2002-03

9.07

2003-04

11

2004-05

10.58

2005-06

11.80

Rural Payments Agency

£000

2001-02

704

2002-03

370

2003-04

430

2004-05

288

2005-06

315

Both sets of figures relate to running costs. However, the DEFRA figures also include payments to counsel, legal contractors and costs relating to claims and arbitration in respect of foot and mouth disease (FMD) cases that were directly attributed to the Department’s Legal Directorate. Other FMD legal related costs and costs in respect of commercial contracts, estates, etc. are held elsewhere in the Department and it would not be possible to draw this information together without incurring disproportionate cost.

Sheep Dip

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to allow the reintroduction of cypermethrin as a sheep dip. (76069)

Before we can consider the reintroduction of the Marketing Authorisations for cypermethrin sheep dip products, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate needs to receive and assess further information on the environmental risks presented by their use and how these can be managed. The Marketing Authorisation Holders have been asked to provide such information. Additionally, the VMD and Environment Agency have jointly commissioned an R&D project on environmental exposure to cypermethrin released to the farmyard. In particular, this will consider the impact of recently dipped animals crossing watercourses in order to enable VMD to provide more advice to farmers on how long such animals need to be kept away from watercourses. The results of this part of the project should be available by the end of the summer.

When all of this information has been received we will be able to begin to consider the reintroduction of the cypermethrin sheep dip Marketing Authorisations in conjunction with interested stakeholder groups.

Single Farm Payment

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the performance target is of the Rural Payments Agency for the time taken from receipt of an application for a claim form for the 2006-07 Single Payments Scheme to the despatch of the form to the applicant; and if he will make a statement on the progress being made by the agency towards meeting that target. (68862)

The Rural Payments Agency does not have a formal performance target for the despatch of application forms as the vast majority are sent automatically to previous applicants. However, where a request is received the estimated turnaround time is 24 hours. Application forms were also available at RPA sites and could be downloaded from the RPA website.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had on compensation for farmers' creditors in relation to delayed single farm payments. (68902)

[holding answer 8 May 2006]: The discussions that the Department has had with representatives of the banks and the agricultural supply trade have focused on the payment timetable for the 2005 Single Payment Scheme. Over £1.3 billion, representing 88 per cent. of the total value of those payments, has now been disbursed and the Rural Payments Agency remains focused on paying the outstanding sums as soon as possible for the benefit of all concerned.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the long-term plan is for the payment of the single farm payment. (68955)

We are determined that the right lessons are learned from our experience this year with the Single Payment Scheme, first to prepare for the undoubted challenges that will exist in the delivery of the 2006 scheme, and second to move to a more stable position for the 2007 scheme year. Our subsequent plans will be guided by the outcome of the fundamental review of the Rural Payments Agency that my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South announced in her written statement of 16 March 2006, Official Report, column104WS.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what help is given to farmers to help with problems in filling in single farm payment forms. (68956)

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has used a variety of methods to help farmers complete their 2006 Single Payment Scheme (SPS) application form. These measures include:

Pre-populating application forms with as much information as possible to limit the amount of information farmers have to complete by hand.

The 2006 SPS Handbook, which was sent to all farmers along with their application form, which contained section-by-section guidance on how to complete the application form.

The Customer Service Centre (CSC) has been available for callers to contact them with queries via telephone, e-mail or letter. Owing to customer demand, during the peak period, the CSC increased its opening hours.

An annotated application form with text boxes was sent to all potential claimants and was also posted on the RPA website to help guide claimants.

A Q&A is being constantly updated and added to on the RPA website, clarifying some of the queries raised by customers when trying to complete their SPS form.

An advertising campaign has been used in the farming press, to remind customers of the most important parts of the form to complete and also point out the most common errors being made.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many complaints have been received from farmers in the East Riding of Yorkshire regarding the single farm payment scheme; and if he will make a statement. (69319)

Ministers and officials at the Rural Payments Agency have apologised for the delay in making payments under the Single Payment Scheme. As of 25 May over 94,000 claimants to the scheme had received £1.32 billion, representing 88 per cent. of projected payments. As the scheme is administered on a national basis the RPA does not hold statistics in respect of farmers in the East Riding.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the estimated cost to date to the industry is of delays in payment of single farm payments. (69561)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the cost to farmers per month in interest payments caused by delays in single farm payments; and for what reason guidelines on set aside have (a) been changed and (b) been changed at this stage of the scheme. (70343)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the (a) total debt and (b) interest on that debt accrued by farmers as a result of the delay in single farm payments in England, broken down by county. (71513)

The EU regulatory window for payments under the 2005 Single Payment Scheme (SPS) is 1 December 2005 to 30 June 2006. The cost to the agricultural industry of these payments being made in one month rather than another depends on individual farmers' circumstances and the use to which the payments are put.

In light of the situation explained by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South in her written statement of 16 March 2006, Official Report, column 104WS, various managerial and procedural changes have been introduced during the past few months in order to increase the flow of SPS payments. These have contributed to the position where over £1.3 billion, representing 89 per cent. of the total value of such payments, has now been disbursed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that the single farm payment for 2006 is paid on time. (73540)

The payment window for the 2006 single payment scheme opens on 1 December 2006 and runs until 30 June 2007.

The Rural Payments Agency is working hard to ensure that payments are made as soon as possible within this time frame. Staff have already started basic validation checks on a proportion of the 2006 application forms.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on the impact of the late payment of claims under the 2005 Single Payment Scheme on the competitiveness of English agricultural businesses with their counterparts in other EU countries. (66705)

The timing of payments under the decoupled Single Payment Scheme (SPS) only affects the competitiveness of agricultural businesses to the extent that SPS claimants treat those payments as though they remain coupled to production. Discussions within Government and with stakeholders has highlighted widespread recognition of the potential benefits to the English agricultural industry, relative to its counterparts in most other EU member states, that were provided by the decisions made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Margaret Beckett) to introduce the SPS at the earliest possible date and not to take up any of the options to retain coupled EU direct payments.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what grounds she has given to the EU for the basis for the extension in the timescale for single farm payments. (68652)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are being taken by his Department to facilitate payments due under the Single Payment Scheme by extending the permitted time frame; and if he will make a statement. (69564)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the Government's application to the European Commission to delay the payment of single farm moneys to English farmers. (71834)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions his Department has had with the European Commission on extending the window for single farm payments beyond 30th June. (74772)

[holding answer 5 June 2006]: While the intention has been, and remains, for the Rural Payments Agency to make outstanding payments under the 2005 Single Payment Scheme as soon as possible, it has always been the case that some payments may be made after the end of the EU payment window on 30 June. In those cases, the claimant will still be paid in full, but EU funding of those payments could be reduced. With that in mind and to safeguard the interests of UK taxpayers, a request was made to the European Commission in April to extend the payment window. Subsequent discussions with the European Commission suggest that a formal extension is unlikely, but those discussions will continue, focused on the EU rules governing the funding of payments made after the end of the payment window.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate his Department has made of when all single farm payments for this year will have been completed. (72492)

[holding answer 22 May 2006]: The RPA has not provided a timetable for the completion of outstanding payments, although it is endeavouring to make payment to all 2005 single payment scheme applicants by 30 June.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures he is taking (a) to ensure that outstanding applications under the Single Farm Payment Scheme are processed as a matter of urgency and (b) to improve efficiency in handling payments under the scheme. (76032)

As of 5 June the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has paid just under £1.33 billion to nearly 96,000 customers, representing 89 per cent. of projected expenditure to 80 per cent. of eligible claimants. RPA’s top priority is to pay those claims worth more than €1,000 that have not yet received any payment. The majority of these cases have been allocated to an individual member of staff to resolve any outstanding validation issues and proceed to payment as soon as possible. In a number of cases, this will require the discussion of outstanding validation issues with the claimant.

RPA is reviewing its approach to handling claims to 2006, building on lessons learned in processing 2005 scheme claims.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of single farm payments remain outstanding in (a) Hereford constituency, (b) Herefordshire and (c) England. (76217)

The total number of single payment scheme customers is now approximately 120,000. As at 6 June 2006, 20 per cent. (24,000) customers had not received either a full or partial payment.

Details of payments made in England up to 30 June 2006, including by constituency and county, will be published in due course.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the merits of raising the threshold for single farm payment minimum acreage to one hectare; and if he will make a statement. (73469)

[holding answer 25 May 2006]: Under EU legislation governing the single payment scheme (SPS), member states may set a minimum area for the establishment of SPS entitlements, which cannot be higher than 0.3ha. Following discussions between the Department and the devolved administrations, the UK made maximum use of this flexibility in adopting a minimum area of 0.3ha. The establishment of entitlements is, with very limited exemptions, a one-off exercise undertaken in the year the SPS is introduced. In the UK, this was 2005. Even if it were possible, therefore, for the UK to now set a higher minimum area, it would have little, if any, practical effect going forward.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department plans to introduce a threshold below which single farm payments are deemed negligible; and if he will make a statement. (73471)

[holding answer 25 May 2006]: Under EU legislation governing the single payment scheme (SPS), member states may set a minimum payment figure of 100 euros. That provision is not currently used in the UK, but is among the issues that will be considered further in preparation for the introduction of the 2007 scheme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the costs of installing the computer system which processes the Single Payment Scheme. (74070)

The overall cost of the Accenture contract is £53.8 million. This includes not only the development of the core SPS processing system but also a Rural Land Register, Customer Register, Customer Service (Call) Centre and Document Management Unit.

Slaughter Premium

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many EU countries pay a slaughter premium for calves. (75361)

Six member states currently pay slaughter premium on calves: Austria, Belgium (part only), France, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

Tagging (Sheep)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the (a) reliability and (b) cost-effectiveness of electronic tagging for sheep. (75362)

An extensive pilot trial took place in 2004-05 to evaluate the use of electronic identification devices (EIDs) and electronic data transfer (EDT) under English sheep farming conditions. The aim of the trial was to identify issues surrounding the practical application, roll-out and implementation of EID on sheep farms in different parts of the country, in livestock markets and in slaughterhouses. Results from the trial are available on the Defra website: http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/tracing/sheep/eid/index.htm.

These results will be submitted to the European Commission to inform their forthcoming report on EID. A regulatory impact assessment for the implementation of electronic identification of sheep and goats in England is also being prepared.

Transport Resources and Waste Facilities

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on his recent conclusions relating to the setting up of fewer, larger sustainable transport resources and waste facilities. (76074)

The recent consultation on the review of England’s Waste Strategy put forward proposals for the future of waste policy. These included policies with various environmental impacts, for example, on the quality of local environments and transport.

The consultation closed on 9 May 2006. All responses are being carefully considered during the development of a revised waste strategy, which is due to be published later this year.

The procurement of waste services by local authorities is key to delivery, and it is clear that further facilities will be required in order to deal with the commercial and industrial wastes diverted from landfill or requiring treatment to meet landfill controls. The recently created Waste Infrastructure Development Programme will consider how to encourage local authorities to allow, where appropriate, for larger facilities that can serve the non-municipal sector and provide recycling collection services for businesses.

Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what contingency plans his Department has put in place to deal with outbreaks of viral haemorrhagic septicaemia in live fish in the UK; (75871)

(2) what assessment he has made of the (a) causes and (b) sources of viral haemorrhagic septicaemia in farmed trout in the UK;

(3) what discussions his Department has had with key stakeholders on compensating fish farmers for the compulsory slaughter of stock in the event of an outbreak of (a) viral haemorrhagic septicaemia and (b) other fatal diseases amongst farmed fish.

[holding answer 8 June 2006]: On 26 May, Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia (VHS) was confirmed in samples of fish taken from a trout farm in the River Ouse catchment area of North Yorkshire. VHS is a notifiable disease and the Department has a contingency plan in place for dealing with outbreaks of VHS and other serious fish diseases.

In line with these arrangements, Fish Health Inspectors from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), under Defra's direction, immediately formed a National Control Centre (NCC) to co-ordinate action to manage the outbreak with other partners, including the Environment Agency. The NCC is based at the CEFAS laboratory in Weymouth.

Fish from the affected farm were slaughtered humanely with full co-operation from the farm owners. The fish have been disposed of in accordance with animal by-products legislation.

Defra has placed restrictions on the movement of fish into and out of the Ouse catchment area, and specifically on all farms in that area.

The cause of the VHS outbreak has not been identified, but extensive epidemiological investigations are underway to try and determine the source. A comprehensive sampling programme is also taking place, targeting fish farms and wild sites in the Ouse catchment as well as other possible contacts. Results are expected within the next 14 days. No further disease cases have been identified by recent sampling and inspections.

Stakeholders make regular representations to the Department about compensating fish farmers for the compulsory slaughter of stock due to an outbreak of a serious fish disease. We have made it clear that it is not our policy to make compensation available in these circumstances. However, EU legislation does allow fish from an infected site to be on-grown for marketing, provided they do not display any clinical signs of disease.

VHS has no implications for human health. The VHS virus cannot grow or replicate at human body temperatures.

Warden Bay Defence Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the (a) tender documents and (b) construction timetable for the Warden Bay defence scheme will be made public. (75874)

[holding answer 8 June 2006]: Defra has overall policy responsibility for flood and coastal erosion risk management in England, funds most of the Environment Agency’s flood management activities and provides grant aid on a project by project basis to the other flood and coastal defence operating authorities (local authorities and internal drainage boards) to support their investment in capital improvement projects. Defra does not build defences, nor direct the authorities on which specific projects to undertake. The works programme to manage risk is driven by the operating authorities.

The Warden Bay project is being promoted by Swale borough council and details of the tender process and construction timetable are matters for them. A scheme was approved for grant aid by Defra in July 2005 for start of construction in 2007-08, based on the council’s assessment of costs at that time.

Waste Incineration Directive

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which EU member states have designated tallow as a waste product under the Waste Incineration Directive. (73485)

[holding answer 5 June 2006]: For the purposes of the Waste Incineration Directive (WID), “waste” means any solid or liquid waste as defined in Article 1(a) of the Waste Framework Directive (WFD). Whether or not a substance is “waste” within the meaning of Article 1(a) of the WFD is a matter that must be determined on the facts of the case and the interpretation of the law is a matter for the courts.

In addition the EU Animal By-Products Regulation (ABPR) ((EC) No. 1774/2002) requires a range of animal by-products, and substances derived from them (for example, tallow), to be disposed of as waste. Where the method of disposal is incineration or co-incineration (that is, use as a fuel), the ABPR requires it to be carried out in compliance with the WID. The ABPR is directly applicable in all EU member states.

We understand that other member states are at various stages in discussing the implications of the regulations on burning tallow in their own countries. However, in response to representations by the UK Government, the European Commission has set up a study to help establish whether such controls are proportionate and necessary to the protection of the environment. The study is expected to report by the autumn, and the Government are pressing the Commission for the study to be completed as soon as possible.

Waste Management

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government plan to take to deal with litter over the next five years. (75573)

A number of improvements to existing legislation dealing with litter were made under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, including the introduction of greater powers for local authorities in issuing fixed penalty notices and litter clearing notices. This was complemented by new guidance on the legislation and revision of the statutory “Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse”.

Improving the toolkit of powers and guidance available to local authorities will help them tackle local environmental quality issues more effectively. In addition, ENCAMS (Environmental Campaigns), which is grant-funded by DEFRA, runs the “Keep Britain Tidy” campaign and carries out a number of public awareness campaigns aimed at changing behaviour. Recent campaigns have focused on youth littering and smoking-related litter.

In addition to increasing the range and flexibility of enforcement options for local authorities, work is being taken forward on improving the provision of skills in relation to street cleansing and related services. A Local Environmental Management training and skills framework is being developed which will ensure that specific, tailored training and qualifications are available to the industry from operational level to senior management and play a key role in enabling local authorities to increase the effectiveness of their litter clearance, as well as other services they provide.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what controls exist to regulate the practice of disposing of waste in landfill sites. (75575)

The Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002 (as amended) regulate the disposal of waste in landfill sites. The Regulations transpose the requirements of the Landfill Directive, reducing the negative effects of landfilling on the environment and any resultant risk to human health. A copy of the 2002 Regulations (SI No. 1559) and its subsequent amendment Regulations (SI Nos.1375 and 1640) can be obtained from the Office of Public Sector Information at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/.

Water Shortages/Supplies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance he has issued to the water companies on the categories of public sector vehicles to be exempt from the provisions of any hosepipe ban. (74454)

Hosepipe bans are imposed by water companies using the powers available to them under section 76 of the Water Industry Act 1991. In line with the definitions within the Act, these powers will apply to private motor cars but exclude public service vehicles and goods vehicles. No additional guidance has been given.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with Thames Water on the seeking of a drought order by the company; and if he will make a statement. (74781)

I met with representatives of Thames Water on 25 May to discuss a range of water issues, including the company’s water resource position in light of the Environment Agency’s report “Drought prospects 2006—spring update”.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the projected change in mains water usage over the next (a) five, (b) 10 and (c) 20 years. (75375)

The Environment Agency is the statutory body with a duty to manage water resources in England and Wales. As part of the agency’s management role, it has both national and regional water resource strategies which set out the pressures over the next 25 years. Information about these strategies is available on the Environment Agency’s website: www.environment-agency.gov.uk.

Water companies have statutory duties to maintain adequate supplies of water. They have 25-year water resource plans which complement the agency strategies and seek to reconcile supply with anticipated demand. This forward planning framework exists to take account of factors such as the water supply and disposal infrastructure required to service significant new housing developments and the implications of climate change.