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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: It is the head of state or government holding the Presidency who decides on the agenda of European Council meetings and writes to colleagues to inform them. This often happens at short notice just before the European Council meets. It is therefore difficult for COREPER to prepare these agenda items in great detail.
Some of the items on the agenda have been the subject of considerable discussion and negotiation in COREPER and other Council formations and are put to the European Council for attention or for resolution. Other agenda items are for political orientation and do not need extensive preparation or are new initiatives which are given political approval before going to working level for negotiation.
The question of the rotating Persidency, as well as the workings of COREPER and the European Council are all likely to be addressed in the forthcoming exercise on Council reform as well as in the Convention on the Future of Europe. The UK Government will press for decisions on these processes to make the Council more efficient and effective.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Government are committed to effective scrutiny. New arrangements were introduced to extend and improve scrutiny on 17 November 1998. Information is provided to the Scrutiny Committees of both Houses about items on the agenda of forthcoming Council meetings. The Government also send to Parliament proposals for European legislation coming before the Council of Ministers as well as other documents which may have important policy, legislative or financial implications, under all three pillars of EU activity.
The long preparation of decisions coming to Council meetings means that the differing procedures and powers under each of the treaties is fully taken in account, and it is clear under which treaty the action is being taken. Most Councils, with the exception of the General Affairs Council, deal with areas which fall either under the Treaty on European Union or the Community treaties, but not both.
The Government believe that Parliament is now more fully and promptly informed about forthcoming decisions and published documents, and that UK scrutiny arrangements compare favourably with arrangements in many other EU member states.
|Muriel Barker||North East Lincolnshire (Unitary) District|
|Derek Boden||Leader of the North West Regional Assembly|
|Ken Bodfish OBE||Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council|
|Sir Albert Bore||Leader of Birmingham City Council|
|Keith Brown||Leader of Clackmannanshire Council|
|Rosemary Butler AM||National Assembly for Wales, Newport West|
|Ruth Coleman||Executive Member of North Wiltshire County Council|
|Michael Davey||Leader of Northumberland County Council|
|Sir Simon Day||Chairman of Devon County Council|
|Margaret Eaton||Leader of Bradford Metropolitan Borough Council|
|Baroness (Joan) Hanham||London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea|
|Lord Hanningfield||Essex County Council|
|Gordon Keymer||Leader of Tanbridge District Council|
|Christine May||Leader of Fife Council|
|Peter Moore||Liberal Democrat Leader of Sheffield Metropolitan Borough Council|
|Dermot Nesbitt MLA||Junior Minister in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister|
|Alban Maginness MLA||Northern Ireland Assembly|
|Irene Oldfather MSP||Scottish Parliament, Cunninghame South|
|Dame Sally Powell||London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham|
|Brian Smith||Torfaen County Borough Council|
|Nicol Stephen MSP||Scottish Deputy Minister for Education and Young People|
|The Hon Joan Taylor||Nottinghamshire County Council|
|Lord Tope CBE||Liberal Democrat Leader of the Greater London Assembly|
|Milner Whiteman||Bridgnorth District Council|
|Jennette Arnold||Member of the Greater London Assembly|
|Joan Ashton||Independent Group Leader and Deputy Leader of Boston District Council|
|Ruth Bagnall||Labour Group Leader of Cambridge City Council|
|Olive Brown||Leader of Wear Valley District Council|
|Diane Bunyan||Deputy Leader of Bristol City Council|
|Flo Cluclas||Liverpool City Council|
|Hugh Halcro-Johnston MSP||Convener, Orkney Islands Council and Vice-President of COSLA|
|Dr Ruth Henig CBE||Chair of Lancashire Police Authority|
|Jonathan Huish||Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council|
|Elin Jones||Assembly Member for Ceredigion|
|Susie Kemp||Opposition Leader of West Berkshire County Council|
|Lord Tarsem King||Mayor of Sandwell District Council|
|Sue Sida Lockett||Conservative Group Leader of Suffolk County Council|
|Corrie McChord||Leader of Stirling Council|
|Jack McConnell MSP||First Minister|
|Irene McGugan MSP||Shadow Spokesperson for Children and Education|
|Bob Neill||Member of the Greater London Assembly, Bexley and Bromley|
|Margaret Ritchie||District Councillor, Down District Council|
|George Savage MLA||Northern Ireland Assembly, Upper Bann|
|David Shakespeare||Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council|
|Shirley Smart||Leader of Isle of Wight Unitary Council|
|Jim Speechley CBE||Leader of Lincolnshire County Council|
|Liz Tucker||Liberal Democrat Leader of Worcestershire County Council|
|Sir Ron Watson CBE||Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): All products of animal origin imported from third countries into the UK must enter at designated UK border inspection posts (BIPs) where they are subject to veterinary inspections. The inspection services at a BIP are the responsibility of the local authority or port health authority, in the case of Heathrow, the London Borough of Hillingdon. It is their responsibility to deploy appropriate inspection staff at the BIP in response to the volume and nature of the products imported through the BIP. At the Heathrow BIP, there are currently 10 environmental health officers, three official veterinary surgeons and 10 other staff involved in the monitoring of imported meats coming into the UK but these figures will vary.
London Borough of Hillingdon environmental health officers and H M Customs officers also carry out checks for the presence of illegally imported meat and other animal products in passengers' luggage. in addition, State Veterinary Service staff, who are present at Heathrow to check imported live animals, are also empowered to deal with illegally imported animal products when they are found. No additional resources have been allocated since February 2001 but there has been greater coordination between the authorities at Heathrow in conducting checks and other duties.
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