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GM Crops

Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions on what date, and by whom, licences were issued for the (a) growing and (b) marketing of Chardon-LL or T25 maize. [159994]

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Mr. Meacher [holding answer 2 May 2001]: T25 is the name of a type of genetically modified (GM) maize developed by Aventis. The modification, transformation event 25 (T25) confers resistance to a particular herbicide, in this particular case, Glufosinate Ammonium. Chardon LL is a variety of T25 maize.

Directive 90-220, on the deliberate release of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), recognises two types of release. First, those for research purposes (known as Part B releases) and, second, those for marketing (known as Part C releases). Applications for Part B releases are assessed on an individual basis at Member State level and approved by the competent authorities in that state.

Applications for approval of GMOs for marketing (Part C approvals) are made initially to one of the 15 Member States. The competent authority in this Member State reviews the application and forms an opinion. If favourable, the opinion and application dossier (which includes the risk assessment for the GMO) are passed to the European Commission and the 14 other Member States. Each Member State then examines the application in detail. If there are no objections to the favourable opinion, formal Part C approval is granted by the Member State in which the application was first made, on behalf of the whole European Union (EU). Once granted the Part C consent is valid across the EU.

The French competent authority received the initial application for Part C approval of T25 maize in 1995, which was for both commercial cultivation and for importation. Following consideration by other Member States, the French granted formal approval for T25 maize on 3 August 1998. A number of Member States have also given approval to the cultivation of T25 maize for research (Part B releases). The Statement of the French Competent Authority for T25 maize shows that various Part B approvals were given by the French, Italian, German and United Kingdom competent authorities between 1992 and 1997. I have placed a copy of the statement in the library of the house. This contains the exact details of each release.

Any crop, irrespective of it being GM or not, also requires approval under the National Seed Listing legislation. Varieties may not be marketed until they have been added to the UK National List or EU Common Catalogue. A proposal to add Chardon LL to the UK National List was published in March 2000. A number of affected persons made written representations or asked to make oral representations. A Hearing began on 2 October and was adjourned on 15 November until further notice pending resolution of concerns about the system used in France. Meanwhile, I understand that MAFF has sought the views of the European Commission on the legal status of the French authority's testing procedures. Chardon LL will only be added to the UK National List if all the legal requirements have been met in full.

Mrs. Lawrence: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions on what date the original safety assessments were undertaken on Chardon-LL and T25 maize made by the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment; and what other bodies were responsible for undertaking such safety assessments. [159995]

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Mr. Meacher [holding answer 2 May 2001]: Chardon LL is a variety of T25 maize. The original safety assessments for marketing approval of T25 maize under Directive 90/220 were made by the French Authorities (refer to PQ 159994 above) in 1995. The application dossier was then referred to the UK and the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) considered this on 20 June 1996. English Nature, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Health and Safety Executive and the then Department of the Environment also undertook safety assessments. ACRE was satisfied that the T25 did not pose a risk to human health and the environment. This included consideration of animal feed safety in association with MAFF. The Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes also considered the safety of T25 and advised that the product was safe for use in food.

Single Regeneration Budget

Mr. Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what discussions he has held with the East Midlands regional development agency regarding reductions in single regeneration budget funding granted in the current year; for what reason and on what basis SRB grants awarded in Northamptonshire have been scaled back in the current year; and which SRB projects are subject to savings clawbacks in the current year. [160104]

Ms Beverley Hughes [holding answer 2 May 2001]: There have been no reductions in the East Midlands Development Agency's SRB allocation for 2001-02. The SRB allocation for the East Midlands Development Agency has been increased to £38.398 million in 2001-02 from £37.700 million in 2000-01. The RDAs have the responsibility to manage their programmes within their allocations, and negotiate individual SRB schemes on an annual basis.

We regularly meet RDA chairs collectively and have discussed finance issues, including SRB funding, on several occasions.

Birmingham Northern Relief Road

Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will publish the review by Oscar Faber of predicted traffic flows after the opening of the Birmingham northern relief road on the M6 and other roads. [160127]

Mr. Hill: My hon. Friend's question relates to an operational matter. I have accordingly asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. Tim Matthews, to write to him.

Letter from Tim Matthews to Tony Wright, dated 8 May 2001:

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Home Energy Saving Scheme

Mr. Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many applications have been made under the new home energy saving scheme; how many have been accepted; how many have been completed; and what the average wait is between application and completion of the work. [160264]

Mr. Meacher: The information requested is set out in the table. While the average wait is calculated as being 108 days, since the scheme started on 1 June 2000, there have been instances when householders have had to wait much longer, especially for heating measures. We are working with the Home Energy Efficiency scheme managers to reduce the time taken to install measures. Since January the average waiting time has been reduced to 59 days.

Applications submitted to date323,244
Applications accepted263,359
Households where work has been completed111,985
Average time taken between application and date of work (days)(9)(10)108

(9) Measured from date of call with respect to telephone applications; from date of receipt in the case of postal applications; or from date of e-mail.

(10) This is the average since the start of the scheme on 1 June 2000. Since 1 January the average time taken to completion of works has fallen to 59 days.

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