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19 Sept 2002 : Column 281W—continued


Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will hold discussions with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors on its study on The Impact of Modulation; and if she will make a statement. [71269]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 22 July 2002]: I have received a number of representations on modulation policy, in particular following the Policy Commission's recommendation to increase the modulation rate in England from 2004. The varied positions taken include concern about the possible impact on farm incomes and support for the positive effect on rural development funding.

A decision on whether or not to adjust modulation rates has yet to be taken, but will be informed by the views of a wide range of stakeholders, including the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). It will also take account of negotiations on the CAP Mid-Term Reviews.

I have no plans to hold discussions with RICS on this issue. However, other DEFRA ministers have met with officials from RICS recently.

Committee Mandates

Mr. John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the mandate of the Standing Committee on agricultural statistics is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if she will list the items currently under its consideration; if she will take steps to increaseits accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if she will make a statement. [58438]

Mr. Morley: The Standing Committee on Agricultural Statistics was set up by a Council Decision (72/279/EEC) on 31 July 1972. It makes detailed decisions on implementing EU legislation as set out in each case using the delegated authority provided by the EU "Comitology" process.

Together with Member States, the Commission is currently conducting a review to bring existing legislation on the conduct of comitology committees into line with Council Decision 1999/468/EC, to "simplify the requirements for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission". As an obligation to this Decision, the Commission undertook to publish an annual report on the working of committees. The first report was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses on 26 February 2002 (Com (2001) 783 Final).

The Standing Committee on Agricultural Statistics includes representatives from all member states and is chaired by the Commission. Separate meetings are set up for each subject normally linked to the appropriate working group or meeting of officials. The appropriate statisticians from the UK departments attend.

There have been 2 Standing Committee meetings this year. The forthcoming items for decision will include the definition and deadlines for statistics in the forthcoming 2005 EU Structure Survey; the development initiatives on

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the "Improving Community Agricultural Statistics Programme"; the 2003 survey of ground points across the EU and the rules of procedure of the Standing Committee.

The work on Agricultural Statistics is subject to the Direction of the European Parliament, Council, the Statistical Programme Committee meeting of heads of each National Statistical Services and the Agricultural Statistics Committee Meeting.

It is not possible to separately identify the specific annual cost of the Committee's work to public funds without incurring disproportionate costs.

New or significant changes to EU legislation are already subject to Parliamentary Scrutiny. We provide information on agricultural statistics work in National Statistics reports and plans, which are published, on the Internet.


Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what powers she has to impose Agenda 21, community renewable energy, and alternative energy strategies on local authorities; and what penalties may be exacted from local authorities which fail to produce such strategies in comformity with her guidance; [72046]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 22 July 2002]: Part I of the Local Government Act 2000 placed a duty on English local authorities to prepare a community strategy. The delivery of improved long term economic, social and environmental quality of life, contributing to the achievement of sustainable development in the UK, lies at the heart of community strategies; indeed community strategies are required, by law, to promote sustainable development. The Government believes community strategies will promote the mainstreaming of sustainable development across local authorities' functions. Where they have effective and holistic Local Agenda 21 strategies, there may be good reasons for local authorities to continue to implement LA21. However, the Government feels that, in the long term, LA21 strategies will effectively be subsumed by community strategies. Whilst there are no requirements placed on local authorities to produce specific community renewable energy or alternative energy strategies, energy use, as an important element of sustainable development, can be considered as part of the community strategy process.

For energy providers, the Renewables Obligation under the Utilities Act 2000 requires all licensed electricity suppliers in Great Britain to supply a specified and growing proportion of their supplies from renewable energy in order to meet the Government's target that 10 per cent. of electricity sales will come from renewable sources by 2010.

Live Animal Exports

Mr. Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she plans to take to encourage (a) the sheep farming industry to

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replace live animal exports with the export of meat and carcasses, (b) the public to purchase domestically produced rather than imported lamb and (c) retailers to market UK-produced light lambs while paying a price to farmers which properly reflects the production costs. [72443]

Mr. Morley: Through its Industry Forum Adaptation Scheme, the Government is helping to fund work being undertaken by the Red Meat Industry Forum to improve the competitiveness of the red meat industry. Over the three financial years ending in 2005, a contribution of £1.52 million has been committed to match industry funding of £1.7 million on benchmarking, analysis of the supply chain and masterclasses. The Forum is also pursuing other initiatives in its ten point action plan, which was launched in March this year. Work of the Forum is being led by the Meat and Livestock Commission, which as part of its remit undertakes promotional support for the benefit of sheep producers. Many marketing issues, including the export of sheep for slaughter, involve commercial decisions in which the Government only has a limited role. In encouraging change the Government welcomes the work of the Forum and other industry initiatives to build partnership and trust in the supply chain.

Climate Change

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what regional climate change scenarios have been modelled by her Department in the last five years; and if she will make a statement. [70533]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 22 July 2002]: In April 2002, the Department launched the 2002 UK Climate Change Scenarios. The Department funded the development of these scenarios to support the UK Climate Impacts Programme, the purpose of which is to help public and private sector organisations assess the impact of climate change on their sectors and plan ways of adapting to its consequences. The new scenarios were produced using a regional climate change model and represent a significant step forward in our understanding of possible consequences of climate change for different parts of the UK. They replace an earlier set of scenarios funded by the Department and published in 1998.

The Department is also funding the application of regional climate change models in developing countries to improve our collective understanding of the effects of climate change, for example through projects with India, China and South Africa.

Additionally, we currently fund (with the Department for International Development) work at the Hadley Centre on a portable Regional Climate Change Model (PRECIS) which will enable developing countries to carry out their own assessments of how climate change will affect them.

Information Campaigns

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much her Department spent on information literature, advertising and campaign material in financial year 2001–02; if she will list the campaigns that spent over £250,000; and if she will make a statement. [70204]

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Mr. Morley [holding answer 22 July 2002]: DEFRA was established during the 1st quarter of financial year 2001–02. The Department's centralised publicity expenditure is not recorded in the format requested. Our records show a total expenditure for publicity of £6,640,161.00 as at 31 March 2002.

Due to the effects of the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak last year, customary publicity and exhibitions activities were deferred or cancelled. DEFRA centralised publicity activities focused on poster campaigns, events, shows and direct information literature mailings.

The "Your Countryside You're Welcome" campaign was the only one for which expenditure exceeded £250,000.

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