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Electoral Registration

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to amend electoral registration forms issued by electoral registration officers to ensure that voters are informed that the details they provide may be recorded on police computers and other public sector databases. [59170]

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement about the impact of wider statutory disclosures of name and address details from the electoral roll on the willingness of individuals from (a) ethnic, (b) religious and (c) other minority groupings to register for the vote. [59171]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

The Government published on 13 May a policy paper and draft regulations on access to, and sale and supply of, electoral registers which proposes to restrict, rather than widen, such access, sale and supply. The draft regulations include a new specimen registration form and guidance notes which clearly state who may receive copies of the electoral registers and the purposes for which the information obtained will be used. The Regulations were laid on 27 June 2002. In addition, I understand The Electoral Commission intends to produce a leaflet explaining the effect of the regulations in more detail. It is important that all individuals are able to exercise their right to vote and can be reassured that appropriate procedures are in place to handle the information provided for registration.

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Rio-Earth Summit (Implementation)

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps have been taken by the Government since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 to (a) set goals on environmental protection and (b) improve eco-efficiency and resource productivity relating to sanitation issues; and what these (i) goals and (ii) improvements have been. [44365]

Mr. Meacher: The Government has set goals and secured improvements in the protection of the environment and the sustainable use of natural resources for both water supply and waste water disposal, both through international and European agreement and domestic regulatory requirements since 1992.

The measures under which this has been done include:

Among the improvements achieved are:

Summary forward programmes of the measures required of water and sewerage companies to meet environmental and resource use goals in their operations and investment are set out once every five years in Ministers' guidance on the programmes of quality improvements for Ofwat's periodic review of water price limits. The guidance for the period 2000–05 was published in "Raising the Quality" in 1998.

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Flood Defences

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 25 March, Official Report, column 728W, on flood defences, if she will make a statement on Article 33 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1257/99 of 17 May 1999 and its applicability to flood management in the UK. [51466]

Mr. Morley: The Rural Enterprise Scheme, which forms part of the England Rural Development Programme, implements rural development measures under Article 33 of Council Regulation 1257–99. That Article includes, among its 13 measures, scope for restoring agricultural production potential damaged by natural disasters (which could include some, not all, flood incidents) and introducing appropriate prevention measures.

Given the small scale of the EU Rural Development funds allocated to the UK, and the fact that the UK taxpayer would have to fund a significant proportion of the costs, careful targeting of the ERDP was necessary. The measures adopted under the Rural Enterprise Scheme reflect the range of regional priorities and targets identified following close consultation with statutory partners and stakeholders. They are wide-ranging in nature but also reflect the scheme's primary aim of helping farmers to adapt to changing markets and develop new business opportunities. The measure referred to above was not identified as a priority for support and therefore is not included in the scheme. The hon. Member will know from answers to previous questions, including that given to him on 15 November 2001, Official Report, columns 890–91W, the substantial investment in flood and costal defence made by the Government.


Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many items of incoming mail (a) from hon. Members and (b) in total in each month since June 2001 have been (i) received, (ii) fully responded to, (iii) are held pending for response and (iv) are untraceable. [58116]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 21 May 2002]: The total number of letters received from hon. Members since June 2001 (as at 30 June 2002) stood at 11,393. We have responded in full to 9,609 letters and 1,784 letters are awaiting a response.

The breakdown by month of letters from hon. Members awaiting a response is:

MonthReceivedFully responded toPending a response
November 200184677076
December 200152746463
January 2002105395994
February 20021105101194
March 200213771210167
April 20021115861254
May 20021022629393
June 200273794643

Our database records details of all letters received from honourable Members. We are therefore unable to provide details of untraceable mail.

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Providing similar information for all items of mail received in the department would only be available at disproportionate cost.

Tuna Fishing

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to ensure that fishing for tuna does not endanger the lives of other sea creatures. [60781]

Mr. Morley: During the United Kingdom's Presidency of the EU in 1998 we achieved the adoption of a ban on the use of drift nets in the tuna fishery. The ban came into effect on 1 January of this year. We look carefully at information relating to cetacean by catch in various fisheries. Research sponsored by DEFRA into the new designs of trawl nets to allow the escape of marine mammals may have benefits for the tuna trawl fishery in due course.

Departmental Grants

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which organisations which were in receipt of a grant from her in 1997–98 no longer are; what the annual saving is; which organisations which were not in receipt of a grant in 1997–98 now are; and what the annual cost is. [61394]

Mr. Morley: The aggregate figure for government grants to private organisations and individuals was £28.6 billion in 2000–01 (the last year for which full outturn data is available) compared with £24.8 billion in 1997–98. This includes Lottery grants, but excludes social security payments classified as grants in the national accounts.

The Department has only been in existence since June 2001, so does not have such historical information itself. Constructing it retrospectively would involve disproportionate cost.

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