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Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to reduce the cost of administering departmental payments; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 6 December 2001]: The Department established the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) on 16 October to make CAP payments. RPA brings together the administration of CAP grants and subsidies schemes previously divided between MAFF's (now DEFRA's) regional offices and the Intervention Board. RPA will deliver a change programme to modernise the way that CAP payments are made through a major investment in new technology.
This will provide advanced electronic processing capability and enable farmers and traders to submit claims electronically. It will result in significant benefits for taxpayers with a 10 per cent. cut by March 2004 in unit costs of administering payments and further savings in subsequent years after the new systems are fully implemented.
In addition, and as part of a continuing review of efficiencies, a number of initiatives are under way across DEFRA to improve the processes for the purchase and payment of goods and services through electronic procurement, making greater use of purchase cards, the electronic receipt and payment of invoices and further centralisation of invoice processing where appropriate. It is anticipated that by March 2003 the core Department will have realised the level of savings identified.
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Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions (1) her Department has had with the Treasury about fiscal incentives to reduce consumer demand for peat products; 
(3) her officials have had with other Departments about action to promote sustainable alternatives to peat use. 
Mr. Meacher: The Peat Working Group is the interdepartmental forum, on which the peat industry and environmental bodies are represented, where such issues are considered. This meets periodically and my officials are represented. The Government's policy on the use of peat is set out in the relevant Biodiversity Action Plan which commits Government to undertake and promote research and development into sustainable alternatives while generating publicity to encourage amateur and professional peat users to adopt alternatives, highlighting the threat to peatland conservation of continued peat use. We aim for 40 per cent. of the total market requirements to be peat-free by 2005 and 90 per cent. by 2010. Recently, in response to a question from the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Sayeed) on 16 October 2001, Official Report, column 1219W, I detailed the mechanisms which Government use both to ensure the protection of the best examples of peatland habitat and to meet our obligations under the EU Habitats Directive.
Mr. Morley: It is an offence under the Protection of Animals Act 1911 to cause a horse unnecessary suffering due to the manner in which it is tethered and is punishable by a fine of up to £5,000 or six months imprisonment, or both.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what changes she plans to introduce to the requirement of form OTM22 for the signature of the producer of the animals; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: Animals over-30-months of age which are unable on welfare grounds to travel to OTMS collection centres can be slaughtered on farm and presented into the scheme at casualty centres. An on-farm slaughtered casualty animal must be covered by an OTM22 emergency slaughter certificate which in the main is completed by the attending veterinary surgeon. The primary purpose of the OTM22 is to confirm that the
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Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many regulations her Department has proposed to Parliament since June; what regulatory impact assessments have been made for those regulations her Department has implemented in 2001; and what plans her Department has to reduce the number of regulations affecting small businesses. 
Mr. Morley: With the exception of foot and mouth disease related orders the Department has made 42 regulations since June. In addition to these the Animal Health (Amendment) Bill was introduced on 30 October. Regulatory Impact Assessments for regulations imposing a cost or benefit implemented in 2001 are published on the Department's website and are available in the House Libraries.
Mr. Morley: I have no information on the number of farm workers and other rural tied workers who have no security of tenure. The Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976 and the Housing Act 1988 provide security of tenure for qualifying agricultural workers who pay no rent at all or only a low rent.
Most lettings by private landlords to agricultural workers and other people who pay a market rent for their property which began before 15 January 1989 are regulated tenancies under the Rent Acts. Lettings of this sort made after that date will be assured or assured shorthold tenancies under the Housing Act 1988.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has received no specific representations on this subject since January. Housing legislation is primarily the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions although DEFRA is jointly responsible with DTLR for certain provisions in the Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976.
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plants in the United Kingdom are equipped to handle fridges under the new regulations being introduced on 1 January 2002. 
Mr. Meacher: EC Regulations No. 2037/2000 requires the removal of ozone depleting substances (ODS) from waste fridges before they are scrapped. The Department is aware of one facility in the UK capable of extracting ODS from waste fridges prior to scrapping, although this facility is not yet on-line. A number of other companies have indicated their intention to establish other such facilities in the UK.
Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if she will make a statement on the methodology employed to determine the additional sum of money required to deal with the extra costs to local waste service companies of dealing with unwanted refrigerators and freezers; 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 12 December 2001]: This Department recently announced a payment of £6 million to English local authorities to cover their costs of handling fridges and freezers until March 2002. We shall urgently assess the impacts of the regulation and will determine what further action is required beyond that.
The provision for waste disposal is included, together with other council services, within the upper tier of the Environmental, Protective and Cultural Services (EPCS) Standard Spending Assessment (SSA). The SSA is taken into account in the calculation of revenue support grant allocations to each authority. The additional £6 million for the disposal of refrigerators regulation has been added into the EPCS block.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the operation of the concordat between the Scottish Executive and the UK Government on co-ordination of European policy issues concerning agriculture; what representations she has received from the Scottish Executive to amend the concordat; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 10 December 2001]: Our assessment is that the concordat between the Scottish Executive and the UK Government on co-ordination of European policy issues concerning agriculture has worked well. We have received no representation from the Scottish Executive to amend the concordat although it will need to be amended to reflect the change in the name of my Department. The United Kingdom Government attach great importance to ensuring that the devolved Administrations play their proper role in the development of European policy and we are in regular contact with all the devolved Administrations on European issues.
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