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Special Advisers

Mr. Collins: To ask the Prime Minister if he will publish the correspondence between the Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office concerning the special

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adviser to the Secretary of State for Defence to which he referred at Prime Minister's questions on 12 June; and if he will make a statement. [62410]

The Prime Minister: I have nothing further to add to the answers I gave the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Inverness, West (Mr. Kennedy) on 12 June 2002, Official Report, columns 858–59.

Rail Summit

Mrs. May: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the attendees at the rail summit he held on 28 May. [62574]

The Prime Minister: I have meetings with a wide range of organisations and individuals. As with previous Administrations it is not my practice to provide details of all such meetings.

Radioactive Waste

Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister what matters in respect of the sea bed disposal of radioactive waste from the United Kingdom in the Hurd Deep near the Channel Islands were discussed during his visit to Jersey on 14 June. [62082]

The Prime Minister: This issue was not raised during my visit.

ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS

Centre for Tropical Veterinary Medicine

Mr. Russell Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she will take to ensure the continued operation of the Centre for Tropical Veterinary Medicine in Edinburgh. [59298]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 10 June 2002]: The Centre for Tropical Veterinary Medicine is part of the University of Edinburgh and is reliant on funding from a wide range of sources for both research and training. DEFRA is not a significant funder of CTVM. DEFRA is interested in aspects of veterinary training and funds Veterinary Fellowship programmes at three Veterinary Schools—including one at Edinburgh. We are awaiting the Royal Society Inquiry report which may make recommendations about training.

Countryside Stewardship Scheme

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of farms with countryside stewardship scheme agreements have had their scheme compliance checked during the first year of the agreement by farm visits from her Department's Rural Development Service. [60672]

Mr. Morley: The Rural Payments Agency is responsible for carrying out compliance inspections of countryside stewardship agreements in accordance with EU requirements. EU rules require at least 5 per cent. of agreements to be inspected and selected using a risk based selection criteria. The risk based selection criteria is not specifically related to the year of agreement.

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Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of countryside stewardship agreements the Rural Payments Agency has visited in each year since the scheme began. [60671]

Mr. Morley: The Rural Development Regulation requires member states to undertake on-the-spot compliance checks on at least 5 per cent. of agreements each year. Between 1996 and 2000, just over 5 per cent. of agreements were subject to such checks by MAFF staff each year. The Rural Payments Agency assumed responsibility for these checks in April 2001, after the Regional Service Centres of MAFF were disbanded. Since then, no compliance checks have been undertaken on Countryside Stewardship agreements. The foot and mouth epidemic prevented Agency staff undertaking any checks during the majority of the last calendar year and the early part of 2002. Arrangements for resuming checks on Countryside Stewardship agreements are well advanced.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 15 May 2002, Official Report, column 654W, on the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, if she will outline how the risk-based selection system works; and what monitoring is in place to identify risks. [60674]

Mr. Morley: Risk selection of on-the-spot compliance checks is laid down in the Rural Development regulation, which requires member states to take account of the following factors:


Data on risk factors are accumulated for each agreement and fed into a selection programme, which identifies the requisite number of agreements to be inspected for each year's compliance monitoring round. A proportion—currently 75 per cent. to 80 per cent.—of the total number of agreements selected for compliance checks are identified through this risk selection process. The remainder are randomly selected, as required by the Rural Development regulation.

Ragwort

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if ragwort is covered by the Injurious Weeds Act 1959. [60679]

Mr. Morley: I can confirm that common ragwort is one of the five injurious weeds covered by the Weeds Act 1959.

Biosecurity (South Korea)

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice on biosecurity she has issued to British tourists visiting South Korea. [60269]

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Mr. Morley [holding answer 10 June 2002]: We have increased the number and improved the locations of posters explaining our import controls at the major UK airports. The Football Association agreed to target football fans travelling to the World Cup with advice about the risk of importing foot and mouth disease from South Korea. These initiatives are part of our work to increase public awareness of the current regulations and their importance.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice she has given to port health officers about the risks of foot and mouth disease being introduced to the United Kingdom by (a) travellers and (b) goods from South Korea. [60270]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 10 June 2002]: We have notified enforcement authorities and Her Majesty's Customs and Excise of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in South Korea so that they take this into consideration when undertaking checks of cargo and passenger baggage. On, 22 May, enforcement officers' search powers were extended to include personal baggage and all commercial containers, whether or not described as food.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken by HM Customs and Excise to reduce the risk of foot and mouth disease being brought into the United Kingdom by travellers from South Korea. [60273]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 10 June 2002]: HM Customs and Excise support the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and their enforcement agencies in their implementation of import controls designed to protect animal and human health. Customs staff have been alerted to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in South Korea and have been directed to bring any consignments discovered in Customs checks to the attention of the appropriate local health officials.

Icebergs

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on (a) the hazards to shipping, (b) the impact of global warming and (c) changes in sea levels in connection with the floating away of iceberg numbers (i) C19 and (ii) C10 from Antarctica. [58214]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 10 June 2002]: C19 broke away from the west Antarctic in the last few weeks and is currently drifting slowly north. C10 broke away about five years ago and is currently located at approximately 64 degrees south, 99 east.

There is an obvious risk to navigation, especially when we consider that a vessel undertaking a "great circle" sailing in the southern ocean will be drawn into high latitudes. However, the risk is minimised by knowledge of the location, size and movement of the icebergs from satellite remote sensing devices, the provision of Maritime Safety Information (MSI) services to ensure that mariners are aware of the danger and the contribution from modern navigation systems.

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The breaking away of C10 and C19 will not have an impact on global warming. While the break-up of ice shelves is consistent with a warmer world, it is still not clear the degree to which global warming has contributed to the recent break-up of parts of the Antarctic ice shelf.

C10 and C19 will not cause sea levels to change as the ice was floating in the sea prior to breaking off the ice shelf.


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