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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with tenant farmers and their representatives concerning the implications of delays in single farm payments. 
Jim Knight: Officials from Defra and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) meet representatives of both the Tenant Farmers' Association (TFA) and the National Farmers' Union (NFU) on a regular basis and the two organisations are represented on RPA's Industry Forum, which last met on 19 October 2005. RPA also has a Single Payment Scheme (SPS) technical stakeholders' group which meets frequently, most recently on 9 September and 17 October 2005. Again, both the TFA and the NFU are represented on this group.
There are also regular bilateral contacts with both organisations to discuss the implementation of the SPS and the associated implications for tenants and farmers in general. Lord Bach, Under-Secretary with responsibility for Sustainable Food and Farming, last met the TFA on 28 June 2005 and the President of the NFU on 28 September 2005 and Johnston McNeill, chief executive of RPA, met with the chief executive of the TFA on 29 September 2005.
RPA announced in January of this year that SPS payments were most likely to commence in February 2006; well within the regulatory payment window which runs to June 2006. During the course of regular discussion with industry representatives RPA officials have re-affirmed that they remain on course to start payments in February.
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of recent fuel price rises on fuel poverty; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: In our publication The UK Fuel Poverty Strategy: Third Annual Progress Report" in July 2005, it was estimated that, excluding consideration of energy efficiency improvements, recent price increases are likely to have increased the number of vulnerable households in fuel poverty in England by up to 400,000 households between 2003 and 2006.
It is critical that the impact of rising prices on fuel poverty is kept under close scrutiny. The Government are committed to doing this and considering whether further action may be needed. Moreover, together with colleagues across Government, we are working with energy companies in seeking to mitigate the impact of rising prices for the most vulnerable customers.
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Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group's estimate of the expenditure needed to achieve Government fuel poverty targets by 2010; and what her Department's estimate is of the resources required for this purpose. 
Mr. Morley: We are grateful to the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group for their analysis and are currently considering their estimates regarding the level of resource required to meet our 2010 fuel poverty targets, in conjunction with the Government's own analysis.
We are committed to continuing to monitor closely the impact of rising prices and, together with colleagues across Government, to work with energy companies in seeking to mitigate their impact for the most vulnerable customers.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the powers of the EU Commission to overrule the wish of member states to declare GM-free zones or regions following the recent European Court decision. 
[holding answer 21 October 2005]: Under existing EU law, in order to declare a GM-free zone, that is a region where GM crops cannot be cultivated, a member state has to prove that there are special reasons
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to introduce national measures. Austria applied for a derogation from Directive 2001/18/EC to declare the region of Upper Austria a GM-free zone. However, the European Court of Justice ruled against this measure, as the Austrian Government failed to prove that the region of' Upper Austria had a unique ecosystem which might justify a specific local risk assessment.
EU law, as agreed by EU member states, sets out procedures which allow an individual GM crop to be approved for cultivation throughout the whole of the EU only if a detailed assessment confirms that it does not pose an unacceptable risk to health or the environment. Under current EU law, as agreed by EU member states, the only legitimate grounds for narrowing the geographical scope of an approval to prevent cultivation in a defined zone are the production of clear evidence that the GM crop involved poses a particular risk to the specific area in question. In the Austrian case, the European Court of Justice found that Austria had not demonstrated the existence of any such risks to the region of Upper Austria.
|Media Moguls||261,558.70||Illegal Food Imports Campaign Phase 1||July 2004-March 2005|
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Jim Knight: The retail price of liquid milk is for the market to determine and it varies depending on the outlet (e.g. supermarket, corner shop or convenience store). It includes costs for production, processing, packaging and transport.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many new reservoirs (a) have been built since 1997, (b) are in the course of construction and (c) are planned to be built; and what steps she is taking to ensure that future demand for water is met. 
Mr. Morley: No major public water supply reservoirs have been built since 1997 or are currently under construction. In fulfilment of their duties to maintain adequate supplies of water, several water companies propose to enlarge existing reservoirs (three in total) or construct new ones (five in total). These proposals were set out in the 25-year water resources plans they prepared in 2004. The Environment Agency has advised Ministers about the appropriateness of these proposals and other measures to ensure security of supply in its report Maintaining water supply", which was published in July 2004.
The Environment Agency is the statutory body with a duty to manage water resources in England and Wales. As part of the agency's management role it has national and regional water resource strategies which set out the pressures over the next 25 years. Water companies have water resource plans that complement the agency's strategies and seek to reconcile supply with anticipated demand. These water resource plans are produced voluntarily, every five years, at present but will become a statutory requirement under the provisions of the Water Act 2003.
Jim Knight: The European Commission is expected soon to propose an amendment to Council Regulation 2092/91 to clarify the threshold to be applied for GM presence in organic food. We will consult stakeholders on that proposal, exploring with them what the appropriate threshold might be.
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the report by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution on bystander exposure. 
Mr. Morley: The Government will need to consider the report and its recommendations fully. Defra will be addressing the recommendations in the coming weeks and months and will co-ordinate a Government response by next summer.
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