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Volume 454: debated on Thursday 14 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what measures he proposes (a) to improve and (b) to tighten enforcement of checks on imports of illegally harvested timber; and if he will make a statement; (109227)

(2) what measures he has put in place to stop the importation of illegal timber.

There are limited legislative controls in this area at present, although UK Customs have seized wood and wood products protected under CITES legislation.

We are taking further action to tackle imports of illegally logged timber through our implementation of the Forestry Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Regulation. This was formally adopted by the European Union in December 2005, during our Presidency. The Regulation allows the EU to establish legally binding Voluntary Partnership Agreements with timber producing countries. These will include licensing systems to identify legal products, and control their export to the EU. Customs officers will be given powers to prevent access to unlicensed products from partner countries.