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British Beef (Import Ban)

21. Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the French ban on imports of British beef. [46531]

Mr. Morley: The ban is illegal and the European Commission have written formally to the French Government. This is the first stage in a process which may lead to a further European Court case against France.

Genetically Modified Plants

22. Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the Royal Society's updated report on GM plants. [46532]

Mr. Meacher: To assist the screening of non-GM and GM food, research should continue to develop technologies to define the 'normal' composition of conventional plants.

That the Government and the European Commission should ensure that current regulations and guidelines for infant formulas and follow on foods and GM foods complement each other.

That the current decision-making process for screening conventional and GM foods should be expanded to encompass inhalant as well as food allergies.

The Government are taking the following steps to address these issues.

On the first recommendation, the Food Standards Agency has undertaken a research programme which is looking at new and emerging techniques to define the normal composition of conventional plants and how these techniques can be applied to refine the current safety assessment of GM foods.

On the second recommendation, the FSA shares the Royal Society's view that GM and infant formulae regulations should be complementary. The FSA is pursuing this issue in Europe as these are EU regulations.

And on the third recommendation, the Royal Society acknowledges that, at present there is no evidence that commercially available GM foods cause allergenic responses. The safety assessment for all applications for bringing GM foods on to the market includes a detailed risk assessment with consideration of all aspects of allergenicity including through inhalation.

Sustainable Development

23. Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her Department's priorities for the Johannesburg summit on sustainable development. [46533]

Mr. Meacher: The Government's overarching strategic objective is to make globalisation work for sustainable development, especially for the poorest. These priorities are: poverty eradication, emphasising capacity building and education; the opportunities presented by resource productivity including the application of science and technology; energy; freshwater and oceans; and sustainable development initiatives for Africa.

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Combined Heat and Power

24. Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on steps her Department is taking to address the recent reductions in electricity generated from combined heat and power; and when she will publish her Department's report on CHP. [46534]

Mr. Meacher: The Government believe that the major factor impacting on the economic position of CHP is relatively high gas prices combined with relatively low electricity prices. Under DTI's lead, it is continuing to pursue its strategy to address high gas prices. The Government are also aware of continuing concerns about the impact of the new electricity trading arrangements on smaller generators, including CHP. On 4 April 2002, DTI published the Government Response to its consultation on NETA and smaller generators which identifies action to help smaller generators operate more effectively under NETA. A draft Government CHP Strategy will be published for consultation shortly.

Climate Change

25. Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the impact of global climate change. [46535]

Mr. Meacher: Impact studies undertaken by DEFRA show that by the 2080s, if action is not taken to tackle climate change, global temperatures could rise by about 3 deg C, leading to 3 billion people suffering increased water stress, and around 80 million extra people at risk of flooding each year due to rising sea levels.

Euro

26. Mr. Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what preparations her Department is making for possible UK entry into the euro. [46536]

Mr. Meacher: Details of changeover planning in the public sector were set out in the Fifth Report on Euro Preparations, published in November 2001. Copies are available in the Library of the House.

Foot and Mouth

27. Angela Watkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many farmers who suffered financial losses resulting from the foot and mouth epidemic have not been compensated. [46537]

Mr. Morley: All livestock farmers will have suffered some degree of financial loss as a result of the restrictions imposed on the movement of livestock and other foot and mouth disease related controls. It has been the policy of successive Governments only to pay compensation for the market value of livestock which is compulsorily slaughtered to control the spread of disease. However over the course of the last year the Government made available some £155 million of agrimonetary aid and more than £210 million in payments under the Livestock Welfare (Disposal) Scheme and light lambs schemes.

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29. Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will respond to the conclusions of the Northumberland county council inquiry into the handling of the foot and mouth outbreak. [46539]

Mr. Morley: The report of the Northumberland county council inquiry into foot and mouth disease provides a welcome local perspective on what happened during the outbreak. I understand that the county council has sent the report to the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Lessons Learned Inquiry and they will doubtless take it into account in making their report, to which we shall respond fully in due course. The Northumberland inquiry report also outlines a medium term recovery plan for rural Northumberland to be developed within the policy framework of the Rural Action Plan produced by One North East. We have assured the leader of Northumberland county council that DEFRA stands ready to play its part alongside the other players, public, private and voluntary, which need to work together if such a plan is to be successful.

36. Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the progress of her inquiries into foot and mouth. [46546]

Mr. Morley: On 9 August 2001 my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced two independent inquiries into the foot and mouth disease outbreak of 2001, namely the Lessons Learned Inquiry and the Royal Society Study. The Lessons Learned Inquiry aims to report by mid 2002. The Royal Society Study should be completed by summer 2002.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much money she has applied for from the European Commission in connection with meeting the costs of compensation paid to farmers for the disposal of livestock during the foot and mouth outbreak, and what response she has received from the Commission. [48557]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 10 April 2002]: The total UK claim for reimbursement of the costs incurred in the foot and mouth outbreak is £998 million. The claim includes compensation payments to farmers for animals slaughtered, and destruction of contaminated feeding stuffs of £735 million. The other element of the claim is for cleansing and disinfecting of the farms and transport and haulage and disposal of livestock of £263 million.

The Commission's auditors are auditing the claim. They have not yet issued their audit report. The Department on 28 February 2002 received an advance payment of the claim of £216,904,990 from the Commission.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what is the basis on which compensation rates for slaughtered animals were calculated during the foot and mouth outbreak. [48559]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 10 April 2002]: The Animal Health Act 1981 stipulates that for the purposes of compensation, the value of an animal shall be its value immediately before it became affected with foot and mouth disease or, if not so affected, its value immediately before it was slaughtered. Animals are valued by professional valuers. From 22 March to 30 July

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2001 standard valuations were set out in regulations to help ensure rapid slaughter of livestock, but farmers retained the right to request an individual valuation of their stock.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received from the farming community that officials acting for her Department be given (a) greater powers to enter farm property and (b) wider scope for ordering the slaughter of farm animals. [12345]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 5 November 2001]: I have received representations from a range of organisations and individuals from the farming community. Some, including the NFU were not opposed to the principle of officials being given (a) greater powers to enter farm property and (b) wider scope for ordering the slaughter of farm animals in clearly defined circumstances.


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