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Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the reasons why the conditions of (a) lowland and upland calcareous grassland, (b) upland acid grassland, (c) upland heathland and (d) bogs in England are generally unfavourable; and what measures she is taking to improve them. [66779]

Alun Michael: The information sought is not available.

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish figures on the number of appeals against slaughter during the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak, including how many were upheld and how many of the total appeals were against contiguous culls. [68297]

Mr. Morley: In total there were 584 appeals against slaughter, all but four were dealt with by the local DEFRA Divisional Veterinary Manager. Of the 584 cases where animal owners challenged decisions to slaughter livestock, 534 were appealing against contiguous culls. In total, 376 appeals were upheld, 336 of which were appeals against contiguous culls.

The above figures include the four appeals heard in court of which three were against contiguous culls. Two of the four were upheld; one was an appeal against a dangerous contact cull and the other was against a contiguous cull. The successful appeal against a contiguous cull subsequently became an infected premises.

Agriculture Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the outcome was of the Agriculture Council held on 27 June; what the Government's stance was on each issue discussed, including its voting record; and if she will make a statement. [67730]

Margaret Beckett: I represented the United Kingdom at the Agriculture Council meeting in Luxembourg on 27 June 2002.

The Council received progress reports on Commission proposals concerning the control of zoonoses and a common market organisation for ethyl alcohol, and reached provisional political agreement on

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a proposed framework regulation laying down general food hygiene rules. It noted there was no qualified majority support for or against a proposal to register Xfeta" as a protected legislation of origin. Under the relevant procedures, this means the Commission will be able to adopt the measure under its own powers in due course.

During a brief discussion of BSE, Commissioner Byrne called on the French Government to comply with the ECJ's ruling on its illegal ban on British beef exports. The French Minister announced their intention to defer implementation of their national rules banning spinal cord from sheep over six months old until January 2003. I subsequently followed up both these points bilaterally with my French counterpart.

The Council discussed Presidency papers on the future of the EU's Veterinary Fund, the CAP fruit and vegetables regime and the use of agricultural insurance as a risk management tool. It also received a presentation from Commissioner Fischler on the medium term prospects for the main EU agricultural markets, in advance of his proposals for CAP Reform, which are expected on 10 July.


XMaking Decisions"

Mr. Drew: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement on the response of organisations to the Consultation Paper, XMaking Decisions"; and if he will list those that (a) supported the principle of doctors being able to withhold food and fluid from patients and (b) those that did not. [67249]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Consultation Paper XMaking Decisions: Helping People who have Difficulty Deciding for Themselves" seeks responses by 9 July 2002. Following the closure of the consultation period, all responses received will be thoroughly considered and will inform the final published version of the guidance leaflets. I will make a statement on responses to the Consultation in due course.

Edward VIII

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what recent guidance she has given to individual departments concerning the public release of documents relating to Edward VIII; and if he will make a statement. [66720]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Individual Government Departments are responsible for re-reviewing remaining closed records relating to King Edward VIII in line with the standard criteria for extended closure from the Open Government White Paper (1993). General guidance on access to records relating to the Royal Family was issued jointly by the Cabinet Office and Public Record Office in September 2001 and is available on the PRO website at:

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Norwich Airport

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the planning process being undertaken on land development around Norwich Airport. [61769]

Mr. McNulty: Development opportunities at and around Norwich Airport are identified in the City of Norwich Local Plan. The City Council has made proposals to replace this plan. The Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions assessed this replacement plan against Government policy in the summer of 2001 and submitted various representations. The replacement local plan proposes to allow Norwich Airport to continue to develop as a regional airport of significant importance to the local economy. The Secretary of State did not submit any representations on the proposals for Norwich Airport in the initial deposit version of the local plan. When the revised version of the local plan is published later this year I will carefully assess any changes made to the plan.


Building Regulations

Mr. Anthony D. Wright: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he expects to publish the revisions to Part E of the Building Regulations; and if he will make a statement. [68178]

Mr. Leslie: Part E of the Building Regulations sets standards for the sound insulation between new homes. I propose to publish amendments to part E of the Regulations and the supporting documents in the autumn of this year. There will be a requirement in the regulations for testing the sound insulation of a sample of new homes on each site.

The requirement for sound insulation testing will apply to houses, flats, hostel and hotel accommodation, whether purpose built or formed by conversion of other types of building. For new hostel and hotel types of accommodation, and houses, flats, hostel and hotel accommodation formed by conversion of other types of building, I anticipate that the requirement will come into force on 1 July 2003. For new houses and flats only, I anticipate that it will come into force on 1 January 2004.

The reason for this later date is that I have asked the House Builders Federation to develop Robust Standard Details for the sound insulation of separating walls and floors for use in new houses and flats. These Robust Standard Details must provide consistently good performance, and so will not need routine testing.

Officials and the Building Regulations Advisory Committee will assess whether the House Builders Federation has achieved this objective. If satisfied that this scheme might work successfully, then I will put the proposals out to public consultation. If this does not raise any unforeseen issues, I would intend to amend the Regulations to allow Robust Standard Details to be used as an alternative to testing. Otherwise, I anticipate that testing will be introduced on 1 January 2004.

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Mindful of the need not to overburden business with unnecessary administration, we want to give the construction industry a chance to prove that their preferred system will work. However, we are not prepared to compromise on consumer issues. If Robust Standard Details do not prove effective, testing will be introduced.

The consultation on Part E also included a proposal to transfer the protection of new housing from external noise from the Town and Country Planning System to the Building Regulations system. We have decided not to proceed with the proposal as part of this amendment. However, we are continuing to explore whether we should pursue this at a later date.


Mr. Edwards: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on pay negotiations for firefighters. [67531]

Mr. Leslie: The Government have no statutory role in determining firefighters' pay. Representatives from local government, representing the employers, and from the Fire Brigades Union, representing employees, are responsible for negotiating firefighters' pay and conditions of service. These groups meet in the National Joint Council for Local Authorities' Fire Brigades. We understand that the two sides are currently in discussion on the Fire Brigades Union pay claim, which was formally tabled on 28 May.

Rate Support Grant

Chris Grayling: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his policy is on the future of NDR and rate support grant. [65673]

Mr. Raynsford: In the draft local government Bill, we have set out our proposals to provide general grant support to local authorities through a single grant stream, to be known as Formula Grant, instead separate support streams comprising redistributed national non-domestic rates (NNDR) and Revenue Support Grant (RSG).

We believe that this will simplify the grant distribution system, so making it more intelligent and transparent.

The proposed merger would have no effect on the collection of business rates or on the total amount being redistributed. Neither would it reduce accountability, as we would continue to publish details of the total amount of business rates being redistributed and to maintain the existing formal accounts covering receipts and payments.

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