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Sea Defences

Mr. Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much spending on sea defences was authorised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for each of the last four years; and how much was provided by (a) the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and (b) local authorities. [4117]

Mr. Morley: The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food approved in each year coastal defence capital works meeting specified criteria for grant aid. The speed at which such works are constructed and hence expenditure incurred and grant claimed, is a matter for the operating authorities. The table shows (a) the actual outturn on the grant eligible capital programme for coastal defences by category of operating authority, and (b) the amount of grant paid by the Ministry. For local authorities grant can be paid in advance one year for work to be undertaken early in the next, whereas actual outturn will record the work completed in the year, so comparisons may be misleading.

£ million

1997–98 1998–99 1999–2000 2000–01
(a)(b)(a)(b)(a)(b)(a)(b)
Sea defence
Environment Agency 29.921.918.112.420.314.0(22)17.912.5
Local authorities2.50.70.51.20.72.61.3
Local authorities coast protection42.224.243.624.135.424.733.111.9
Total74.646.862.236.556.939.453.625.7

(22) Estimated


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The net of grant costs of the programme are largely met (i) in the case of the Environment Agency by levies on local authorities, and (ii) in the case of local authorities' own works by the provision of Supplementary Credit Approvals for borrowing cover. Both are reflected in the calculation of Standard Spending Assessments and Revenue Support Grant.

Inland Waterways

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total Government investment was in inland waterways in (a) Lancashire and (b) Chorley in the last five years; and what the forecast is for the next three years. [4394]

Mr. Meacher: Local information is not collated centrally. However, total expenditure by British Waterways over the past five years has been £163 million. They anticipate spending another £191 million over the next three years.

Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total Government investment in inland waterways was in (a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999 and (d) 2000. [3748]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 16 July 2001]: This information is not available. However, the grant in aid paid to British Waterways, and the element of grant paid to the Environment Agency towards the funding of its navigation responsibilities, were as follows:

£ million

British Waterways(23)Environment AgencyTotal
1997–9851.92.354.2
1998–9953.63.156.7
1999–200059.03.162.1
2000–0164.94.569.4

(23) Figures include grant in aid paid towards Scottish waterways


Droitwich Barge and Junction Canals

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the viability of the re-opening of the Droitwich Barge and Junction Canals; and if she will make a statement. [4134]

Mr. Meacher: The Secretary of State looks to the Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council (IWAAC) to provide advice on waterway restoration projects. IWAAC's "Waterway Restoration Priorities" report published in 1998 identified the Droitwich Barge and Junction Canals as being of national importance and ready

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for main funding in the short team. A recent study carried out by British Waterways confirmed the feasibility of the project and the benefits it would be likely to deliver. The next step will be for the interested parties to raise the necessary funding.

Horticulture

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what plans she has to increase the number of nationals from countries seeking to join the EU eligible to work in the horticultural industry under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme; [4545]

Mr. Morley: The United Kingdom has a long-standing Seasonal Agricultural Workers' Scheme (SAWS) which enables non-European Economic Area students between the ages of 18 and 25 who are in full-time education to enter the United Kingdom to do seasonal agricultural work. The annual quota was raised with effect from the 2001 season from 10,000 to 15,200. This increase was not specifically aimed at nationals from those countries seeking to join the EU.

Despite the increase in the quota the Government are aware that certain sectors of the agricultural and horticultural industries have called for further increases in the quota. In the light of those representations the Government are actively considering whether further changes are needed. A decision on any change to the scheme is for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department to make.

GM Crops

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what criteria are to be used in the risk assessments for the autumn-sown farm scale evaluations for GM crops. [4471]

Mr. Meacher: The criteria used in assessing risks from genetically modified (GM) plants released to the environment are set out in schedule 1 of the Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) Regulations (1995), which implement European Commission Directive 94/15/EC.

For the assessment of sites notified to the authorities for research releases the criteria (set out in Part V of the schedule) include: locations and sizes of the sites, the description of the site ecosystem including evaluation of

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flora and fauna, details of any sexually compatible wild relatives or cultivated plant species present at the site and its proximity to sites of special scientific interest.

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farm scale evaluation sites for GM crops were planted for each crop type. [4469]

Mr. Meacher: The Farm Scale Evaluations is a three-year research programme now in its second full year. The Scientific Steering Committee overseeing the programme has recommended that data be gathered at between 60 and 75 sites for each crop type (winter oilseed rape, spring oilseed rape, beet and maize) over the three years of the study. To date 24 winter oilseed rape, 43 spring oilseed rape, 50 beet sites and 37 maize sites have been sown.

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the meetings she has had with (a) Aventis and (b) the Crop Protection Association to discuss access to information on experimental approvals for glufosinate ammonium. [3755]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 16 July 2001]: No such meetings have been held.

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the antibiotic marker genes and the antibiotics to which they convey resistance, that have been used in the genetic modification of plant crops. [4606]

Mr. Meacher: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 22 February 2000, Official Report, column 916W.

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the tests or trials on the (a) distinctness, uniformity and stability and (b) value for cultivation and use of the GM fodder maize variety, Chardon LL, which have been commenced in (i) the United Kingdom and (ii) elsewhere since October 2000. [4465]

Mr. Meacher: No tests for distinctness, uniformity and stability or trials for value for cultivation and use on the GM fodder maize variety Chardon LL have been commenced in the United Kingdom since October 2000. The French testing authorities have advised us that they entered the variety for a second year of official distinctness, uniformity and stability tests in France in spring 2001.

Biosafety

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the United Kingdom will ratify the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. [4472]

Mr. Meacher: Ratification of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety by the United Kingdom is partly dependent on legislative action at the European Community level. The European Commission has indicated that it intends to publish proposals for such legislation in autumn this year. Depending on progress with this legislation, the United Kingdom may therefore expect to ratify the Protocol before the end of 2002.

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