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Mr. Morley [holding answer 6 December 2001]: The Department is responsible for the Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets previously published for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and for the work transferred from the former Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. DEFRA is on course to meet all its PSA targets.
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Alun Michael: Many of DEFRA's activities are intended to conserve and enhance farmland biodiversity. Most notable among these are our agri-environment schemes, which we are expanding greatly under the England Rural Development Programme. Other measures include:
cross-compliance measures to ensure good environmental management of set-aside land and to tackle over-grazing and inappropriate supplementary feeding of livestock;
support for planting of trees on former agricultural land through the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme;
controls on approval, storage, marketing and use of pesticides;
flood management measures;
a biodiversity and conservation management research programme worth over £2 million a year;
our contribution to the many UK Biodiversity Action Plans for which agricultural management is a factor and, in particular, our lead partner role for the Habitat Action Plans for cereal field margins, ancient and/or species-rich hedgerows and upland hay meadows.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of parliamentary questions replied to by her Department were the subject of a holding answer in the last three sessions of Parliament. 
Mr. Morley: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was created on 8 June 2001, therefore the historical information requested is not available. However, according to our records from Monday 25 June 2001 to Monday 10 December this Department received a total of 2,795 parliamentary questions, of which 905 were named day written questions, of which 73 per cent. received a holding answer.
Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of household waste was recycled in (a) the UK, (b) the North East and (c) South Tyneside in each year from 1998 to 2001. 
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|England and Wales||8.8||10.3|
Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she intends to reply to the letters of 25 June, 10 July, 5 October and 6 November from the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden, concerning a constituent, Ms Carin Beumer, Finance Director of the Natural Health Company (International) Ltd., Hitchin, over her Department's handling of the company's applications for standard certification of bovine sourced product. 
Mr. Morley: We considered the case for payment of optional agrimonetary compensation to the arable sector, the cost of which would largely have been borne by the UK Exchequer. While we acknowledge the difficulties that the sector is facing, we decided not to draw down these funds given the many competing demands on the Exchequer, not least the cost of eradicating foot and mouth disease. The arable sector will, however, be receiving £28 million in compulsory agrimonetary compensation this autumn.
Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what impact she anticipates (a) the increase in landfill tax in (i) 2001 and (ii) 2002, (b) national recycling targets for local authorities, (c) the implementation of the EU directive on fridge recycling, (d) the implementation of the EU directive on end-of-life vehicles and (e) the implementation of the EU directive on landfill will have on the level of council tax in English local authorities; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher: The amount of council tax individual authorities choose to raise is a matter for individual councils to decide. Spending Review 2000 looked at pressures on local authority services funded through the Environment, Protection and Cultural Services (EPCS) block, which included increases in landfill tax and the 200304 statutory targets for recycling and composting of household waste. SR2000 provided an increase in EPCS Standard Spending Assessment of £1.1 billion over the period covered by the spending review.
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Regarding the cost of managing waste fridges, my Department has announced an extra £6 million in the local government finance settlement. This will help local authorities with the extra costs of handling fridges to the end of this financial year.
It has not yet been decided how the take-back and treatment of end-of-life vehicles under the directive will be funded between 2002 and 2007. The Government are now assessing the responses to their consultation on options for implementing the directive, and will take these into account when deciding the way forward.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what meetings she has had in 2001 with agencies involved in flooding; what assessment she has made of the performance of flooding agencies (a) in relation to the reconstruction work made necessary by the winter 200001 flood damage and (b) the work done to prevent a recurrence of these events this winter; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: I hold regular meetings with the Environment Agency which is the principal flood defence operating authority and which exercises a general supervision over all matters relating to flood defence.
Last year's flooding was truly exceptional and followed the wettest autumn on record. Flood defences damaged last year have all been repaired and reinstated, and in some cases improved. This means that communities are now at least as well defended as they were before the floods, and are often better defended. Longer term work to improve defences is under way in many areas. The arrangements for responding to flooding, which proved to be effective last year, have been further improved in the light of lessons learned.
Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement of her policy on a ban on tests and experiments on live animals in the United Kingdom. 
Mr. Meacher: In line with Government policy on experiments on live animals, the policy of my Department is to seek a reduction in such experimentation wherever possible, consistent with the protection of human health and the environment. We take the view that, while a complete ban is not yet achievable, much more can and should be done to reduce the numbers of animals used in determining the environmental fate and effects of chemicals.
We have made it clear to the Commission of the European Communities and to other member states that a key objective of the EU Review of Chemicals legislation must be to keep the need for animal experimentation to an absolute minimum. This should include:
prioritising chemicals for testing
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