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25. Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the impact of Government regulation on farmers in the last year. [142363]

Ms Quin: The red tape review teams looking at all areas the industry identified as burdensome completed their findings in the last year. Implementation so far of their recommendations on intervention, and IACS and inspections has saved £3 million as well as reduced time spent form filling, while new measures to achieve further savings, for example through electronic forms and co-ordinated inspections, are already well under-way. In addition, every possible new regulation affecting business is subject to regulatory impact assessments and these are published.

Organic Farming

26. Mr. Randall: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what meetings he has held with organic farmers representatives in the last month. [142364]

Mr. Morley: My right hon. Friend the Minister met representatives of the Soil Association on 27 November.

Farms Sizes

Mr. Cox: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what the average acreage is of a farm in England and Wales. [143506]

Ms Quin: The average size of a main holding in England and Wales is 60.7 hectares.

21 Dec 2000 : Column: 330W

Animal Welfare

Mr. Baker: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food who chaired the July meeting of the Interdepartmental Group on animal welfare; for what reason no meeting has taken place since July; and what is on the agenda of the next meeting. [143404]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 20 December 2000]: The Under-Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin), chaired the July meeting of the interdepartmental ministerial group on animal welfare. The group agreed to hold these meetings twice yearly and will meet again next year. The date and the agenda have yet to be fixed.



27. Mr. Clappison: To ask the Solicitor-General what assessment he has made of the effect of the proposal to restrict trial by jury on the Crown Prosecution Service's workload. [142365]

The Solicitor-General: It is estimated that the proposed Bill to amend the procedure for determining mode of trial for offences triable either way will result in a reduction in the number of trials taking place in the Crown court of around 14,000 per annum. These trials will take place in the Magistrates court. The reduction in the number of Crown court trials will enable the Crown Prosecution Service to focus more effectively on the serious and complex cases that are tried in the Crown court.

33. Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Solicitor- General what steps he has taken to raise the profile of the Crown Prosecution Service within local communities. [142371]

The Solicitor-General: The Glidewell report recommended that the CPS should establish a more positive relationship with the public. Each of the 42 Chief Crown Prosecutors has taken on this role at a local level by establishing and maintaining links with MPs, the press and local community groups.

CCPs explain the Service's role and listen and respond to local concerns in a number of ways. They include attending local community and ethnic minority interest group meetings, visiting schools, hospitals, universities, places of worship, and court "open days". Many CCPs also host CPS "open days" for the public and the CPS has translated the Code for Crown Prosecutors into twelve community languages, available on the CPS website.

Each CCP accounts for the performance of their Area to the communities they serve in a local Annual Reports. The reports on the first year of performance were published in October 2000.

Human Rights

29. Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Solicitor-General how many legal proceedings have been initiated under the Human Rights Act 1998. [142367]

21 Dec 2000 : Column: 331W

The Solicitor-General: Issues may be raised under the Human Rights Act in any legal proceedings. The Lord Chancellor's Department has introduced arrangements to survey cases through data collection systems in the Magistrates courts and the Courts Service. The results of the first quarter will be available in February. However I understand that there has been no overall increase in the number of civil and criminal cases following the Act's entry in force. In very many cases, human rights points are simply raised alongside other claims.

Victim Impact Statements

32. Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Solicitor-General when victim impact statements will be permitted; and what plans he has for assisting victims in providing such statements. [142370]

35. Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Solicitor-General when victim impact statements will be permitted; and what plans he has for assisting victims in providing such statements. [142374]

The Solicitor-General: The Home Secretary earlier this year announced his plans to introduce during 2001 victim personal statements (previously referred to as victim impact statements or simply victim statements). The new name was adopted to make it clear that these statements will not deal solely with the effects of the crime upon the victim. This remains their principal purpose, but personal statements will also enable victims to say what they feel about many other issues important to them. They may, for example, wish to voice their fears about intimidation and their concerns about bail; say whether they wish to seek compensation; whether they would like information on the progress of the case; whether they would welcome help from the support agencies; and so forth.

Criminal justice agencies are working with the police and Victim Support to produce guidance on how the new scheme will operate. The guidance will include an explanatory leaflet for victims, notes for practitioners and a booklet for police officers giving advice on the scope and purpose of the scheme.

Serious Fraud Office

34. Mr. Watts: To ask the Solicitor-General what proportion of cases prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office in the last 12 months resulted in convictions. [142373]

The Solicitor-General: In the past 12 months, 17 of the 18 cases prosecuted by the SFO resulted in convictions. In the 17 cases which resulted in convictions, 36 defendants were convicted and four acquitted. This represents a case success rate of 94 per cent. and a conviction rate of 86 per cent.

Mr. Bernard Griffin

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will set out the substantive reasons adduced by the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions for his decision to drop charges against Mr. Bernard Griffin. [142329]

The Solicitor-General: I refer my hon. Friend to the given reply on 25 May 2000, Official Report, column 632W. I will write further to my hon. Friend.

21 Dec 2000 : Column: 332W


Access Charges

Mr. Ian Stewart: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the Government's progress in developing legislative proposals to open up access to payment systems and oversee access charges. [143601]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The Government today issued a consultation document setting out their proposals to give the Office of Fair Trading new powers aimed at promoting effective competition in payments systems for the benefit of consumers.

Copies of the consultation document will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Further copies are available from the Treasury, and can also be accessed via the Treasury's website www.

Manufacturing Work Force

Mr. Brady: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the net change in the number of people employed in manufacturing in the United Kingdom in each of the last 12 months. [141689]

Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 11 December 2000]: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Graham Brady, dated 21 December 2000:

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