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Export Subsidies: EU Agricultural Products

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The WTO ministerial Doha declaration in 2001 commits all WTO members to negotiations aimed at reductions of, with a view to phasing out, all forms of export subsidies for agricultural products.

The proposals tabled for consideration at Cancun envisaged the elimination of export subsidies on certain products of particular interest to developing countries. The nature of these products and the timetable for elimination were left to be determined. The question of an end date for phasing out all forms of export subsidies was to remain under negotiation.

The Government hoped for an outcome to the Cancun negotiations which would benefit farmers and consumers everywhere through a global move to freer and fairer agricultural trade. The failure to reach an agreement at Cancun is very disappointing and all parties must now reflect on how best to get the Doha process back on track. The Government remain fully committed to the Doha objectives for agriculture.

LEADER+ Programme

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether funding programmes, such as the LEADER+ European Community Initiative, which last longer than one year are treated in government accounts as an irrevocable forward spending provision.[HL4395]

Lord Whitty: The England LEADER+ Programme has a budget set out in the programme document which has been endorsed by Ministers and approved by the European Commission for the lifetime of the programme. There is therefore a commitment for Defra to match-fund this programme at endorsed levels.

Departmental decisions on resource allocation are currently made annually and we expect LEADER+ to receive the required funding via the normal mechanism.

Although there is therefore a ministerial commitment to fund the LEADER+ Programme, this does not technically constitute an "irrevocable forward spending provision".

Strategic Rail Authority

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, taking into consideration the statutory duties of the Strategic Rail Authority to consult on its strategies, it is appropriate for its Director of Communications, Mr C Evans, to tell rail freight companies and the industry representative body to

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    "stop whingeing", as reported in the Daily Telegraph on 5 September, when they responded to the Strategic Rail Authority's draft strategy.[HL4331]

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Strategic Rail Authority's spokesman was also quoted as saying that it was time the industry "pulled together to deliver". That is a sentiment with which I hope we can all agree.

Drowning

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many children under the age of 16 drown every year; whether drowning is the most common cause of accidental death among children; and what plans they have to reduce the number of deaths.[HL4379]

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Department of Transport and the Royal Life Boat Institute are supporting work undertaken by the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) to collect statistics on drowning and incidents that could have led to death by drowning. The latest published data produced by RoSPA show that 42 children aged 16 years or under drowned in 2001. In 2000, 49 children drowned. The provisional figures for 2002 indicate that 47 children drowned.

According to RoSPA figures drowning is the third highest cause of accidental death in children.

The Department for Transport and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are providing funding of £50,000 this year to enable the secretariat to the National Water Safety Committee to improve its strategic oversight of all the initiatives to reduce the incidence of drowning.

The Department for Education and Skills has produced guidance and training for Local Education Authorities (LEAs) and schools on pupil safety on educational visits and at water margins which it continues to promote. It has also funded the training of educational visits co-ordinators within schools in order to improve safety practices. All LEAs have committed to delivering this training to their schools. New guidance on swimming and water safety awareness is in preparation.

The Government also sponsor the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority appointed by Parliament to inspect and licence providers of waterborne activities and plans to continue the licensing scheme in the foreseeable future.

Parking Enforcement: Contractors

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What monitoring they undertake of the practices of contractors appointed by local authorities to administer parking penalties in their areas.[HL4423]

Lord Davies of Oldham: While the Government provide general advice to local authorities about

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setting up and operating decriminalised parking enforcement, responsibility for monitoring the conduct of any of their contractors involved in this work rests entirely with the relevant local authority.

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What legal penalties apply to the employees of contractors appointed by local authorities to

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    administer parking penalties in their areas who themselves commit parking, traffic or other offences in the performance of their duties.[HL4425]

Lord Davies of Oldham: An employee of a parking contractor who commits a parking or traffic offence while at work would be subject, on conviction, to the appropriate penalty for that offence as set out in the relevant legislation.



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