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Common Agricultural Policy

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the reforms to the CAP (a) made since May 1977 and (b) that Her Majesty's Government are proposing. [7297]

Mr. Morley: (a) The formal objectives of the CAP have remained as laid down in the treaty of Rome in 1957. However, while the treaty provisions supporting the CAP have remained substantially unchanged, the policy itself has evolved and developed over recent years. This has been particularly so during the period since the mid 1980s—when it was evident that agricultural production in a number of major sectors (cereals, milk, beef, wine) was running well ahead of consumption and export opportunities. This gave rise to structural surpluses and budgetary pressures. The principal adjustments to this policy since 1997 include:

Introduction of milk quotas.1984
Introduction of binding agricultural budgetary guidelines limiting the growth of CAP expenditure to 74 per cent. of the growth of the budget.1988
Structural funds reformed. Quotas extended. Set-aside measures designed to encourage the use of less intensive production techniques and to diversify away from products already in surplus introduced.1989–91
Introduction of the MacSharry reforms, which cut some support prices, introduced direct income compensation, and made set-aside and other production control measures a central feature of the CAP.1992
Completion of the Uruguay Round Agricultural Agreement brought agriculture for the first time fully within the multilateral trade mechanism: in that framework, the EU accepted the principle of tariffication (the conversion of all forms of tariff and non-tariff barriers into fixed tariff equivalents, the progressive reduction of tariffs and certain types of domestic farm support, and limits on the volume of subsided exports and the value of export subsidies.1995
Agenda 2000 package of CAP reforms agreed in Berlin. The package included cereal and beef price reductions, milk prices to be cut and quotas increased and creation of the "2nd pillar", the Rural Development Regulation. When reforms fully implemented (2008), price reductions will reduce annual food bill for family of four of around 2 per cent.1999
Review of sugar, olive oil, hops and cotton regimes recently completed. Review of rice and sheepmeat regimes on-going.2001

(b) Responsibility for presenting proposals to reform the CAP rests with the European Commission. We expect proposals to issue next year for a number of key CAP commodity regimes. We will continue to work closely with the Commission and other member states to drive forward the reform agenda to achieve a more economically rational CAP which contributes to the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the industry and rural economy.

Food (Terrorist Biological Attacks)

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration she has given to the possibility of terrorist biological attacks being made on the UK through food supplies; and if she will make a statement on foot import controls in the UK. [7770]

Mr. Morley: Her Majesty's Government are alert to the potential threat to the UK from terrorist activities. The most effective defence against a terrorist threat is good intelligence, efficient procedures to control the entry of people and materials into the UK, and the means to respond effectively to incidents. Contingency plans are maintained by the Government to minimise the consequences in the event of an attack.

All food for sale, whether it is produced in the UK or in other countries, must meet the necessarily high standards of hygiene and safety required to protect public health. Imports of food not of animal origin such as fruit and vegetables from countries outside the EU are subject to UK checks by local food authorities based on an assessment of the risk to health at the point of import.

All products of animal origin imported into the UK from third countries must enter at designated UK Border Inspection Posts (BIPs) where they are subject to veterinary inspections. Consignments are subject to documentary and identity checks and may also be subject to physical checks. These ensure import conditions are met and that the products remain in a satisfactory condition during transport.

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Radioactive Waste

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will publish the consultation paper on nuclear waste; and if she will make a statement. [7706]

Mr. Meacher: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire (Mrs. Lawrence) on 22 October 2001, Official Report, column 25W.

Farm Leavers

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farmers have left the industry in 2001 to date. [7732]

Alun Michael: The latest information available comes from the 2000 Agricultural Census for England. The figures indicate that there were 1,300 fewer farmers, and associated partners, directors and their spouses in June 2000 than in June 1999. This is a net figure and is the balance of farmers, associated partners, directors and spouses joining and leaving the industry. Figures on the number leaving the industry are not separately available. It is not possible to give a separate figure for "farmers". June 2001 figures will be available later this year.


John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will reply to the letter sent to her on 1 August by the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross. [9711]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 23 October 2001]: A response to the hon. Member's letter of 1 August was sent on 22 October 2001. I apologise for the time taken to respond to this letter.

Green Belt

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans the Government have to publish proposals to modify green belt planning policies. [9167]

Ms Keeble: I have been asked to reply.

There are at present no plans.

Minor Roads

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will increase the amount of Government money available to councils for the improvement of minor roads; and if she will make a statement. [9015]

Ms Keeble [holding answer 19 October 2001]: I have been asked to reply.

The Government are committed to halting the deterioration in local road condition and to eliminating the backlogs in carriageway, footway, bridge and street lighting maintenance. We will provide the necessary funding, £30 billion, through our Ten-Year Plan for Transport. This is a real increase of 23 per cent. above funding levels in the previous 10 years. And we are

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promoting several initiatives to help local authorities to optimise their road maintenance programmes and improve the quality of roads.


Distress for Rent

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will publish the results of her consultation on the Enforcement Review Consultation Paper 5: Distress for Rent; and if she will set out her timetable for the abolition of distress for rent in residential property. [9165]

Ms Rosie Winterton: LCD are currently analysing responses to this consultation which ended on 3 August 2001. We received approximately 150 responses from a wide range of individuals, private companies and professional enforcement organisations. We expect to publish a summary of responses in due course.

My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary announced the publication of the Green Paper, "Towards Effective Enforcement", by way of a written answer on 19 July 2001, Official Report, column 451W. The closing date for responses was 3 October 2001. Because of the strong link between distress for rent and bailiff law in general, the responses to the distress for rent consultation will be taken into account along with the bailiff law issues arising from the Green Paper.

We hope to take forward distress for rent proposals when parliamentary time allows.


Chorley Police Station

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will provide resources for the improvement of the police cells at Chorley Police Station in order to meet health and safety requirements. [9100]

Mr. Denham: It is for chief constables, in consultation with their police authorities, to decide how best to deploy available resources taking into account operational priorities and objectives.

I am informed by the chief constable that the cell complex at Chorley was taken out of routine use as part of the rationalisation of the custody facilities within the Division. Improvements were made at the two remaining divisional custody sites at Leyland and Skelmersdale.

The force has confirmed that the rationalisation has enhanced the quality of the division's custody service, improving the supervision, care and control of offenders.

The cells at Chorley remain available to the division if necessary.

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